No. 9 Oregon has dynamic duo in the Thomases
”Touchdown, Thomas to Thomas” is becoming a familiar refrain
at Autzen Stadium, and the connection between Darron Thomas and
De’Anthony Thomas could become even more common for No. 9 Oregon
while LaMichael James is nursing an elbow injury.
James, the Pac-12 offensive player of the week, ran for 239
yards in Oregon’s 43-15 victory over California last week before
going down with a dislocated elbow early in the fourth quarter.
The Ducks don’t discuss injuries and all James would say Tuesday
is that he has not been ruled out of Oregon’s game against No. 18
Arizona State on Saturday night – although it seems unlikely that
The Ducks have plenty of options in his absence, but one of the
most dynamic to emerge this season is the connection between the
De’Anthony Thomas had a team-high six catches for 114 yards and
two touchdowns against the Golden Bears. Darron Thomas also handed
off to the youngster for another score.
The Ducks tried some new things with De’Anthony, a well-regarded
recruit out of Southern California, because of an already
accomplished backfield featuring James and Kenjon Barner.
”We moved him to wideout a little bit because we needed him to
touch the ball some more, but now with LaMichael at least
temporarily out of the mix, there’s a good chance he’ll be put into
(the running back) position a little bit more,” running backs
coach Gary Campbell said.
De’Anthony does it all. In addition to playing as a receiver and
at running back, he also pitches in on special teams. During
position meetings, the freshman meets with coach Chip Kelly.
”Wherever I’m put I’ll always bring my 100 percent,” he
De’Anthony, known as DAT to separate him from his quarterback,
is ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in all-purpose yards with an average
of 145.8 per game. He had his breakout earlier this season when he
caught a pair of touchdown passes and led the Ducks with 204
all-purpose yards in Oregon’s 69-20 victory over Nevada.
Darron Thomas, who has thrown for 15 touchdowns with just two
interceptions this season, said he’s feeling more comfortable with
De’Anthony each game.
”It’s just a continuous thing. The guy’s been working hard ever
since he got here. I try to get the ball in his hands any type of
way,” the junior QB said.
De’Anthony played at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles after
he was developed by Snoop Dogg’s youth football league. The rapper
dubbed his young star ”Black Mamba” because he was so slippery
In James’ absence, Oregon will likely start Barner, who sprained
his ankle in the season-opening loss to LSU but has rushed for
three touchdowns in three games. In addition to De’Anthony,
offensive help could also come from freshman Tra Carson, who has
rushed for 135 yards on 24 carries, and receiver Josh Huff, who has
been hampered by a leg injury but looked back to last season’s form
Other than the personnel, Oregon doesn’t plan to scheme
”Nothing changes,” Kelly said.
James appeared to get off to a slow start this season but he has
rushed for 751 yards on 65 carries in his last three games. He
currently leads the nation with an average of 170.4 rushing yards
per game, and also has the most all-purpose yards with 229.6 each
He was still listed as the starting running back on the two-deep
released for the game against Arizona State. On Tuesday, he was out
of his sling but wasn’t practicing.
He said he would defer to the doctors to make the ultimate
”I think we’ll be fine, that’s one reason why I’m not going to
push it. I’m not going to rush back onto the field and jeopardize
my career,” James said. ”We have some of the best running backs
in the country. Kenjon’s obviously one of the best running backs in
the Pac-12. De’Anthony, he’s phenomenal. And Tra. I’m really
confident with those guys to get the job done on Saturday.”