Oregon QB Thomas: I’m ready to go

While the Ducks sprang to No. 1, Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas worked out the remaining kinks in his throwing shoulder.

Thomas fell awkwardly on his right arm in the second quarter of Oregon’s 43-23 victory at Washington State on Oct. 9. He benefited health-wise from an open date this past weekend, while the undefeated Ducks benefited from Ohio State’s 31-18 loss to Wisconsin.

On Sunday, Oregon was the top-ranked team in the nation for the first time.

After a couple of days off, Thomas and the rest of the Ducks returned to practice Saturday to prepare for their game against the UCLA bruins Thursday night at Autzen Stadium. The team was back at work on Sunday and Thomas showed no sign of injury.

”We had a nice week to rest and it (his shoulder) got better. Now I’m ready to go,” Thomas said. ”It felt good. I came out and threw the ball better than I thought I would – better than everybody thought I would.”

Thomas has thrown for 1,231 yards and 14 touchdowns through six games. He has been intercepted five times. He has also run for 221 yards and two scores as the cornerstone of Oregon’s spread-option offense.

Thomas wasn’t even picked as the Ducks’ starter for the season until the final scrimmage of fall practice.

The job was supposed to go to Jeremiah Masoli, who last season led Oregon to the Pac-10 championship and the team’s first Rose Bowl appearance since 1995.

But in late January, Masoli was implicated in a theft at a campus fraternity house. He pleaded guilty to charges connected to the case and was suspended by coach Chip Kelly for the season.

Kelly kicked Masoli off the team a short time later when he was stopped for a traffic violation and marijuana was found in the car.

Thomas redshirted last season after a few appearances in 2008 when the Ducks were beset by injuries at quarterback. He was widely expected to backup fifth-year senior Nate Costa this season.

But Thomas, who has been compared to a bulkier Dennis Dixon, edged Costa during that last scrimmage and won the job.

”I’m enjoying myself. Each victory, I’m enjoying myself,” Thomas said. ”But you gotta keep working hard. I’ll enjoy it at the end of the season.”

When Thomas got injured against the Cougars, Costa showed just how good he is as the Ducks backup.

He completed 13 of 15 passes, with one of the incompletions being a desperation toss from midfield into the end zone at the end of the first half. He threw for one score and ran for another – an 18-yard dash on the first drive of the second half that gave Oregon a 36-17 lead.

The advantage for the Ducks (6-0) is that they have a pair of capable quarterbacks for the second half of the season.

”The big thing of trying to sustain this thing – because it’s a long season – is can you keep your play-makers healthy, and on every position?” Kelly asked. ”And, knock on wood, we’re relatively healthy at this point and time.”