Injuries don’t break deep Ducks

Injuries have caused the players to change, but essentially

Oregon stays the same.

The past two games have been scary for Ducks fans. First, they

saw running back LaMichael James hit the turf with a dislocated

shoulder against California.

Then on Saturday night versus Arizona State, a falling Sun

Devils player landed squarely on quarterback Darron Thomas’


The ninth-ranked Ducks (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12) hardly blinked. They

defeated Cal 45-15, then rallied from a deficit to beat then-No. 18

Arizona State 41-27.

”One of the things we don’t talk about, we don’t talk about

injuries,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. ”We talk about it as an

opportunity for someone else to go in and there is something to be

said to that.”

In James’ case, the opportunity went to backup Kenjon Barner,

who ran for 171 yards and a score against Arizona State.

Barner, James’ equally speedy best friend, got off to a slow

start with 23 yards in the first half. On the first series he had a

fumble that would lead to a Sun Devils’ touchdown.

”I had to settle down. I think I came out a little too amped up

for myself,” Barner said. ”Instead of controlling my jitters I

let my jitters control me. Once the game got going I got into a


Barner, who was hampered by an ankle injury earlier in the

season, has run for four touchdowns in four games for the


James, a Heisman trophy finalist who leads the nation with an

average of 170.4 yards a game, was hurt in the Oct. 6 victory over

the Golden Bears.

He said Saturday night that he felt he could have played against

the Sun Devils, describing himself as at ”80 percent.”

Thomas had thrown for 187 yards and two scores against Arizona

State when he was injured early in the second half. Although he

jogged to the sideline, he later had a pronounced limp when he

headed for the locker room.

When he emerged, he was wearing a brace or wrap on his leg. He

watched the remainder of the game huddled under a bulky raincoat,

often chatting with James.

Thomas has thrown 17 touchdown passes with three interceptions

this season. He has run for two more scores.

After the game he insisted he was fine – just sore. And he

praised backup Bryan Bennett, who had appeared in two prior games

this season and had thrown for two scores.

Oregon was trailing 24-21 when Bennett came in, and he adroitly

led a scoring drive that ended with De’Anthony Thomas’ 3-yard

scoring run to put the Ducks back in the lead. Oregon scored 17

straight points.

Bennett finished 2 of 5 for 22 yards, while Barner was

collecting yards on the ground.

”He had to go in and win the game for us,” Thomas said. ”He

did a great job managing the game and playing hard.”

Bennett, a redshirt freshman from Encino, Calif., who bulked up

in the offseason, has showed concerned onlookers at Autzen that he

possesses both speed and a strong arm.

”The only thing you can do is try to stay poised and do what

you’ve practiced,” he said.

Oregon also saw another stellar performance against the Sun

Devils from De’Anthony Thomas, who accounted for 203 all-purpose

yards and rushed for two scores.

The victory was Oregon’s 20th straight at Autzen Stadium.

The Ducks, who remained at No. 9 for the second straight week in

the AP Top 25 released on Sunday, visit Colorado next week before

hosting Washington State to close out October.

Perhaps their biggest challenge of the season will come on Nov.

12 at No. 7 Stanford.