LaMichael James is recognized as one of the best running backs in the country, but are his numbers somehow misleading? He's great against lesser competition and he's good against some of the better teams in the Pac-12, but it almost appears like he pads his stats against lesser opponents.
Then there's his 2010 season. His best games came against Stanford and USC where he posted 257 and 239 yards rushing, respectively, in those games. He had 227 yards rushing against Portland State as well, but in the National Championship against Auburn he had just 49 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Does this mean that the Pac-12 doesn't have tough defenses or does it mean that James just isn't good in the big games?
Watching James, it's easy to see that he's a very talented runner, but he may also be a product of the system. He's in a perfect system designed to give him wide lanes to run through and it gives him opportunities to catch passes out of the backfield and on actual routes.
James is a legitimate Heisman candidate too, but he still needs a signature game to show that he's worthy to win the award.
James has had a great career in terms of production in his short career at Oregon, but he needs to play consistent in every game. Against LSU this year, he had just 54 yards rushing on 18 carries, and while the loss doesn't rest solely on his shoulders, he certainly had a lot to do with it.
James followed that performance up with 67 yards rushing against Nevada before finally breaking through today for a big performance against Missouri State, finishing with 204 yards rushing on 12 carries with three rushing touchdowns; which doesn't help his case in this argument.
James still has a chance to prove his worth this year. He has games against Stanford and USC where he can unload for a bunch of yards and show that his numbers aren't just against roll-over teams.
James is still considered one of the best backs in the country, but he needs to start putting those eye popping numbers up against everyone and not just against cupcakes.