When Oregon went into the 2011 college football season, they would have expected the start of Week 7 to find them at 5-0 and either No. 1 or No. 2 in the rankings.
Instead, the Ducks find themselves at 4-1, with their only loss being to the LSU Tigers (and their only ranked opponent) on opening night, and with their star running back LaMichael James questionable for their game against the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday.
There are various reports surrounding James status, but there is nothing set in stone.
James has yet to be ruled out entirely, but is unlikely to play with his dislocated elbow. The elbow is still very swollen and he has had it in a soft-cast all week long.
In the case that James does not play, the Ducks backups are extremely talented.
Since James will most likely not dress against the Sun Devils, it helps that the Ducks' backfield is among the best in the nation. With De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner back there, the Ducks shouldn't see too much of a drop-off against ASU.
Though it is never easy playing without your Heisman candidate and Doak Walker Award-winning running back, the Ducks have two very talented young backs.
De'Anthony Thomas could show his worth and potential to take over the starting job if James chooses to leave for the NFL at the end of the season.
Thomas has 191 yards and two touchdowns on just 25 carries this season. The Ducks other back and possible starter against ASU, Kenjon Barner, has 167 yards and three touchdowns on the year.
ASU is allowing 119 yards on the ground this season. However, with an offense that has the fifth-ranked running game in the nation, the Ducks should be all right, even if LaMichael James is out for a while.
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