By Sam Finley, EDN
Happy Tuesday, everyone. It was certainly a happy Saturday for Duck fans after Oregon thumped lowly Missouri State 56-7. Yes, you have to take the win with a slight pinch of salt (considering the opponent), but one of the more impressive performances had to come from running back LaMichael James.
The Ducks’ all-time leading rusher looked sluggish against LSU and ran for under 100 yards in the Nevada game. (To be fair, De’Anthony Thomas’ coming out party had something to do with that).
On Saturday, however, LaMichael looked like his old Heisman Trophy contending self again. 204 rushing yards and three touchdowns will do that. Oregon running backs’ coach Gary Campbell said it was just a matter of time before James busted loose again.
“I wasn’t surprised by it,” claimed Campbell. “I’ve seen him make those kind of runs before. It was certainly something I was glad to see happen, because I hadn’t seen it in awhile, it didn’t surprise me at all.”
Funny that Campbell mentions something that hasn’t been seen in awhile. You see, last week, I talked about the great running backs that Gary Campbell had coached at Oregon and made a slight error. While the all the other names I threw out were correct, for some reason I put down the name Rueben Mayes.
Now, Rueben Mayes did play very well inside Autzen Stadium. In 1984, he ran for 357 yards, but did so playing for the Washington State Cougars. Thus, not only did Mayes never wear an Oregon jersey, but given the geographical locations between Pullman and Eugene, there was no way that Gary Campbell could have ever coached him in the early 1980’s.
I take pride in getting my facts right and, as your humble sports editor, wish to apologize for this inexcusable mistake. All I can do is what LaMichael James has done in the past couple of games, which is move on and try to do better the next time.
Speaking of the next time, let’s talk about the Ducks’ big game in Tucson this weekend. Oregon starts the Pac-12 portion of their schedule against the Arizona Wildcats. Led by quarterback Nick Foles, they posess an offensive attack that they haven’t seen this season.
“The first opponent (LSU) that we played was more of a two back, ace package type of team,” said Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti. “Nevada was more of a pistol team, and Missouri State was a combination of a pistol and spread offense. Now we’re playing a a four wide passing team, which is very unique for a defensive coordinator. It keeps us young and healthy (laughs).”
No question, the Arizona offense can put up the passing yards, and they will be a much stiffer joust than the Oregon defense has faced the past two weeks. But the Wildcats have some holes on that side of the ball, too.
Arizona does not have a proven running back, and their offensive line is spotty. Going by those factors alone, the Ducks should be able to shut down Foles’ passing ability at some point.
That being said, throw this little potential portion into the equation: Though Aliotti couldn’t confirm what his role will be, I have a feeling that Cliff Harris is going to get his first significant amount of playing time since coming off his suspension. There is no way that Chip Kelly is going to limit him to a play here or there now that the conference title is officially on the line.
Here’s how I see this one going down. It’ll be an offensive track meet in the desert for a half, but the Wildcats’ offense will be stopped in the second half. The Ducks, like the title of this column, will keep moving along. Oregon wins 45-21 over Arizona.
Until next time, I’ll see you in the bleachers.
Sam Finley – EDN Sports
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