Oregon Ducks Football: Bryan Bennett Getting His Shot with Darron Thomas Out

Michael DixonAnalyst IIIOctober 22, 2011

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24:  Head coach Chip Kelly of the Oregon Ducks during the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Ducks defeated the Wildcats 56-31.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If Oregon's offense is struggling without quarterback Darron Thomas and running back LaMichael James, they sure have a funny way of showing it.

The Ducks had a blistering 29-point performance in the first quarter. Kenjon Barner has scored on runs of four and 84 yards, while Bryan Bennett has touchdown passes of 14 and 31 yards.

Now, the initial doubt is natural. Colorado is not exactly a top-notch opponent. So even though four touchdowns (and a two-point conversion) in one quarter is impressive, a blowout of the Buffaloes is hardly something to read too much in to.

But look at it from another perspective. We don't know how long James and Thomas will be out for, and we also don't know how effective they will be when they return.

The Ducks have what should be an easy home game against Washington State next week at home, but they open November with a very important stretch.

On November 5, they take on Washington in Seattle. The Huskies are currently ranked No. 25 in the BCS. Then, the game that will likely decide the Pac-12 North and probably the Pac-12 in general awaits the Ducks in the November 12 showdown at Stanford.

So, no, the Colorado is not a particularly daunting opponent, but isn't it nice to know that Bennett is capable of running the offense with Thomas out? Isn't it nice to know that Barner is capable of big plays, just in case James can't play in those big games? 

The Ducks' chances at the National Championship Game are slim, there's really no doubt about that. With the amount of undefeated teams ahead of them, it's hard to imagine a scenario that would set them in the National Championship Game again.

Still, their chances at qualifying for the Rose Bowl are quite good. This game against Colorado is only strengthening that.

Bennett is showing that he can run the offense, which is not a small deal at Oregon. Their offense is routinely one of most complicated systems in the country. It requires speed from the quarterback, and the ability to make a solid pass.

Lastly, it's uptempo. A quarterback has to get to the line quickly and keep the opposing defense on edge.

If a backup demonstrates that ability, even if it's not against a great team, it's a great sign for future games.

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