Lets get the negatives out of the way first. His two fumbles were horribly timed and crushed any hopes Oregon had of winning against LSU Saturday night. If you want to look big picture you could say that his two fumbles cost Oregon a chance at a national championship this year but that’s neither true nor fair.
Now lets talk about the positives. You can’t dismiss the fumbles, but outside of the ball security issue he looked like Oregon’s best player out there for much of the game. That’s saying quite a lot considering there were two preseason Heisman candidates on the field at the same time and Black Mamba was a true freshman making his first collegiate appearance against a top 5 football team whose team strength is their defense. He showed sticky hands to go along with impressive strength and burst with the ball in his hands. In August coach Kelly stated that Thomas’ role would be at running back but after one week it’s clear they view him as a play maker that can be utilized in multiple positions to exploit match ups. Just a quick reminder of his stats from Saturday:
4 rushes for 22 yards and a TD
6 catches for 47 yards
2 kick returns for 53 yards
That’s good for 2nd on the team in all-purpose yards behind LMJ. While he may not have gotten as many touches if Barner and James didn’t get nicked up during the game, he managed to impress fans, coaches, and teammates when given the opportunity. After yesterday’s practice Darron Thomas praised the younger Thomas’ game, saying he did everything that was asked of him while also doing things nobody was expecting from him. With Barner being seen sporting a boot and crutches for his ankle, it seems likely that we’ll see another healthy dose of Thomas as a compliment to LMJ in the Ducks next game against Nevada. After watching one game (and some high school highlights) is it unreasonable to think that could be an upgrade?