Oregon continued its run of dominant conference play Saturday night, blowing out the Arizona Wildcats 56-31. The story of the night was the performance of LaMichael James, whose 288 rushing yards and 363 all-purpose yards were both school records. Averaging over 12 yards per carry, James ran through, around, and at times straight past Arizona defenders that simply had no chance to contain him, let alone stop him. His two touchdowns on the night made LMJ Oregon’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns, and his 613 rushing yards lead the nation. There aren’t enough positive descriptive adjectives in the English language for LaMichael James and his ability as a football player.
James’ backup Kenjon Barner returned to action after missing the last two games with injury. Although the performance was against Arizona’s sieve-like defense, Barner appeared to be running with power and burst that hasn’t been on display since the Civil War game against Oregon State late last season. He accounted for 78 all-purpose yards and found the endzone twice, a nice performance and hopefully something to build on. Barner’s return to the lineup did seem to put a cap on the usage of electrifying freshman DeAnthony Thomas, who received only one carry and one reception on the night. It’ll be interesting to see how the touches between these two are distributed from here on out.
Darron Thomas hit the ground running on the first series of the game, and finished the contest with 10 rushes for 52 yards and two TD’s. That surpasses his rushing efforts for the rest of the season combined (5 for 47 and 0 TDs). It was a positive sign to see DT exercise this facet of his game; it gives Oregon an added dimension and another thing for defenses to worry about.
While it was a big night for the Ducks, the ‘Zona Zoo sure didn’t have much to cheer for. Arizona right now does everything a team needs to do to make sure that they’ll lose the game. Nick Foles put together a pretty gutsy performance, but wasn’t helped by anybody. His receivers dropped several perfect balls when the game was still within reach, the running game was non-existent, his coach is a overly emotional lunatic, players repeatedly took drive-killing penalties, the list goes on forever. Playing three top-10 programs in a row can make anybody look bad, but that’s not the whole story here. Arizona looked like a team that’s given up, and currently they’re a pretty poor excuse for a football team.
Now we head into a bye week for the Ducks, who get extra time to prep for Cal on October 6th. Should be fun.