Missouri St.-Oregon Preview

Oregon seems to have its swagger back after a rout in its home
opener, and the team is in good position to post another one.

The 12th-ranked Ducks play their final tuneup before beginning
Pac-12 play when they host FCS opponent Missouri State on
Saturday.

Oregon (1-1) was humbled in its opener Sept. 3 in a 40-27 loss
to then-No. 4 LSU. The defeat caused coach Chip Kelly to say that
the Tigers had “a little bit different athlete” compared to his
club.

Darron Thomas had one touchdown pass and one interception in
that defeat. He rebounded nicely last Saturday, matching a school
record with six TD passes in a 69-20 win over Nevada.

“I came out this game really determined to not let the last game
happen,” said Thomas, who completed 13 of 19 passes for 295
yards.

He was much less efficient versus LSU, going 31 of 54 for 240
yards.

Oregon’s speedy spread option got back on track and racked up
603 yards in total offense after being limited to 335 in the
opener.

“We never talk about numbers,” Kelly said. “If we lead the
country in one thing, we will lead in effort.”

LaMichael James, considered a Heisman Trophy candidate before
the season, carried 12 times for 67 yards. He has gained an average
of 56.7 yards on the ground over his last three contests after
averaging 152.9 during the Ducks’ 11-0 regular season in 2010 to
lead the nation.

James, however, caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Thomas and
also returned a punt 58 yards for a score.

If James is having trouble getting untracked on the ground,
there are no such concerns about De’Anthony Thomas. The freshman
ran for 81 yards on eight carries, and more importantly, did not
turn the ball over after two fumbles in the opener.

“I just didn’t want to make those mistakes anymore,” he said. “I
was working hard all week about ball security. So I just had the
ball high and tight. Every time I run, just high and tight.”

De’Anthony Thomas also had two touchdown receptions totaling 93
yards. His 140 receiving yards lead the team.

The Ducks, who have won 17 straight at home, will travel to
Arizona next week to start Pac-12 play. They insist they won’t be
overlooking Missouri State (0-2), which has been outscored 79-31 in
its first two contests.

“We’ll be ready to play next Saturday against Missouri State,
preparing just like we did for LSU,” James said.

Kelly reinstated linebacker Kiko Alonso and All-American
cornerback and kick returner Cliff Harris for the Nevada game. Both
had been suspended because of offseason offenses.

“They had ladders to climb and they climbed them this week,”
Kelly said. “But just because you are back does not mean we are
going to hand you keys to the castle. You got to earn everything in
this football program.”

Missouri State was selected to finish last in the Missouri
Valley Conference. The Bears, who went 5-6 a year ago, hadn’t been
picked last since 1987.

This is the Bears’ second game against an FBS opponent after
losing their season opener, 51-7 at then-No. 15 Arkansas on Sept.
3.

Missouri State played that contest without Trevor Wooden,
suspended for violating team rules. The quarterback returned last
Saturday and threw for 262 yards and two scores in a 28-24 loss to
Eastern Kentucky.

Jermaine Saffold, the only Bears player named to the preseason
all-Missouri Valley first team, had six catches for 126 yards and
both touchdown receptions.

These teams have never met.