Oregon Ducks' Spectacular Sophomores Lead the Way
Oregon jumped Auburn in the BCS standings after putting the hurt on the former Pac-10 top dog USC 53-32 in Los Angeles last Saturday. For the first time in the 115-year history of Oregon's football program, the Ducks are No. 1. People and computers alike all agree that Oregon is college football's best team.
Oregon has dominated every team that has been thrown their way this year; they have yet to be challenged. Oregon's offense is the nation's best, putting up 54.0 points per game. The Ducks' defense has only allowed 38 points in the second half all year. Altogether Oregon has outscored their opponents 180-38 in the second half of their games.
Much of Oregon's success can be attributed to the play of some spectacular sophomores.
The Ducks have a legitimate Heisman contender in LaMichael James. LaHeisman leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 172, he leads the nation in rushing touchdowns with 14 (tied with Auburn's Cam Newton), and is second in the country in rushing with 1210 yards.
James has had his biggest games when it counts the most. Against Stanford, James ran for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he tacked on antoher 237 yards and 3 touchdowns against USC this last Saturday.
Just a few short months ago the there were questions as to who the Ducks quarterback would be, and if the Ducks could make up for the loss of Masoli. It's safe to say that Darron Thomas has answered all those questions.
Thomas has not only replaced Masoli, but he's been better than Masoli ever was. In a conference with Andrew Luck, Jake Locker and Matt Barkley, you could argue that Thomas has been the Pac-10's premier quarterback. Thomas has outplayed the Pac-10's other top quarterbacks in head-to-head competition.
The Ducks quarterback threw for 238 yards and 3 touchdowns, and ran for another 115 yards and a touchdown against Andrew Luck and the Cardinals. This last Saturday Thomas threw for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns in a statement game against USC. Thomas has received a lot of comparisons to former Duck great Dennis Dixon, and come the end of the season he may very well surpass Dixon in Oregon quarterback lore.
Oregon's next sophomore stud came out of nowhere. Just until this last week Cliff Harris was second on the depth chart at the cornerback position; now Harris is up for the Jim Thorpe award reserved for college football's best defensive back (he is the only sophomore up for the award). Harris is second in the nation with five picks and he has returned one of those for a touchdown.
Not only has Harris been shut-down corner, but he's been a great return man. After Kenjon Barner went out with a head injury, Cliff Harris was asked to step up and return punts, and he's been nothing short of spectacular since filling in. Harris leads the country with three punt-return touchdowns, and is third in college football in punt return average with 18.5 yards per return. Every time he touches the ball, you expect big things to happen.
When Cliff Harris first arrived at Oregon, he introduced himself by saying "My name Cliff Harris and I'm here to lock shit down." He wasn't kidding.
Not only does Oregon have the makings to be a national champion this year, but for years to come. With much of Oregon's core being underclassmen, the Ducks should only improve and continue to get even better; that's kind of scary when you think about it.
There has never been a better time to be an Oregon Duck.
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