Arizona St.-Oregon Preview
LaMichael James is confident about Oregon’s chances this weekend
– even if he can’t be on the field.
The Heisman Trophy candidate is hopeful a nasty elbow injury
won’t sideline him Saturday night when the ninth-ranked Ducks look
to defeat No. 18 Arizona State for the seventh straight time.
James injured his right elbow early in the fourth quarter of
Oregon’s 43-15 victory over California last Thursday. X-rays showed
no fracture, and the Ducks (4-1, 2-0 Pac-12) are being coy about
The nation’s leading rusher at 170.4 yards per game, however,
feels Oregon will be fine without him.
“Even if I don’t play, we have tremendous backs,” James said. “I
don’t think we’ll miss a beat.”
James was limited to 94 yards rushing and one score in last
year’s 42-31 win at Arizona State (5-1, 3-0). He gained 150 yards
on the ground with three first-half touchdowns two years ago in a
44-21 home win.
“He’s a great player,” Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson said.
“He might be one of the best players in the country. There is no
question about that.”
James ran for 239 yards and a touchdown against California,
becoming the first Duck to run for at least 200 yards in three
straight games. Running backs coach Gary Campbell said Monday that
James is in “good spirits.”
If James can’t start, Kenjon Barner or De’Anthony Thomas could
get the nod. Barner carried 10 times for 88 yards and a score
against Cal, while Thomas, a freshman, is averaging 7.6 yards per
Darron Thomas is also a running threat with 18 carries for 100
yards this season. The quarterback has 15 touchdown passes to just
Oregon is averaging 42.3 points during its six-game win streak
in this series. The Ducks are fifth in the country with the
Pac-12’s most prolific offense, gaining 539.6 yards per game.
“We have to learn how to go at warp speed,” Erickson said. “They
are what they are. They do it week-in and week-out, year-in and
year-out since Chip (coach Chip Kelly) has been there. I don’t know
if I’ve ever seen a team as fast offensively.”
Oregon enters with a four-game win streak since its 40-27 loss
to then-No. 4 LSU in the Sept. 3 opener. The Ducks have won 19
straight at home.
The Sun Devils are the only Pac-12 South team with an unbeaten
conference mark. Brock Osweiler completed 25 of 41 passes for 325
yards and three touchdowns in last Saturday’s 35-14 win at
“Brock Osweiler is a big, tall rangy target and he can throw
it,” Kelly said. “He’s got a real, real strong arm, really
Osweiler is facing Oregon for the first time since the Sun
Devils’ last trip to Autzen Stadium two years ago, when he went 5
for 10 for 14 yards before he was knocked out with an injury. He
became the first true freshman QB to start for Arizona State since
Jake Plummer in 1993.
“My first trip up to Autzen didn’t go how anybody would hope for
it to but, like I said, we’re a different football team now; I’m a
different football player and I’m really looking forward to the
opportunity,” Osweiler said.
It could be different since Jamal Miles is more of a factor now
for Arizona State. Miles is tied for the team lead with four TD
receptions, and he’s returned a punt and a kickoff for a score
while also throwing for another.
The Ducks, meanwhile, have created only four turnovers – none in
the last three games. Through five contests last season, they’d
“I just hope we can start to create some turnovers,” Kelly said.
“We had our hands on a lot of balls on Thursday night and for some
reason, it just didn’t bounce our way. So hopefully we’re going to
make some turnovers because we’re going to need it for this
This contest could be a preview of the inaugural Pac-12
championship game, set for Dec. 2. The Ducks are one of three
unbeaten teams in conference play from the North, along with No. 7
Stanford and Washington.
“It’s exciting for all of us,” Erickson said. “It’s a big game
against a big program and a great football team.”