Oregon Duck Players to Watch

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De’Anthony Thomas-Running Back

Sep 7, 2013; Charlottesville, VA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De

I hate continually bringing up the Oregon offense, because it disrespects their defense and plays them down. However, I can’t help but bring up De’Anthony Thomas. I brought up the idea that UCLA should be considered “Tailback U” the other day, but Oregon (who could claim the same thing and not raise much of an argument from me) has the best back in the Pac-12. Bar none.

I mentioned the kind of crazy run game that Ohio State had in preparation to that game, but I think the 332 rushing yards Cal conceded against the Buckeyes is nothing compared to what kind of monstrous numbers Oregon are likely to put up on this Cal defense. What makes Thomas great, is that while he is an every down back in a lot of ways, he is nothing like the traditional “three yards and a cloud of dust” running backs that still seem to get a lot of praise in today’s college football. In fact, I would say that Thomas’ mix of speed, elusiveness, field vision and violent moves make him the face of the future at the running back position. Many have come before him that tried to play this way, but Thomas doesn’t look like he’s confused about what kind of running back he is like some players have in the past.

This season, Thomas has posted 338 rushing yards, 58 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His soft hands and inexplicably perfect route running make him the toughest back to defend in the nation. He may not have all the highlight reel plays so far, but his workman like approach to the game in reminiscent of the very best players ever to play at the tailback position, yet (like I’ve written before) he is new and leading the charge for the change to the position.

Against Cal, I look for him to decimate a battered Cal defense (yeah, I know a lot of players are coming back for the first time since Northwestern, but I think this is going to be a rough first game to play in since being injured).