Oregon’s 2nd and 3rd Ground Weapons: Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas



The Quack Attack is largely built on short, fast guys who will beat anyone at setting the edge. Once they turn the corner against you, you’re done. Chip Kelly has made the Oregon Ducks into an offensive juggernaut by recruiting and molding the perfect guys to fit his system.

The focal point of the Oregon Ducks offense is tailback LaMichael James, last year’s Doak Walker Award winner and this year’s national leader in rushing yards per game. After that, the Ducks get major ground gains from running back Kenjon Barner and quarterback Darron Thomas.

Barner is a three-year backup who could start anywhere. He’s been so good that he, like James has a NFL draft decision to make.

“That’ll be something I talk to my family about, and Coach (Gary) Campbell and Coach (Chip) Kelly,” the 5-11, 195-pound Barner says. “My focus is on the Rose Bowl, and that’s where it needs to be.”

Quote source Portland Tribune

If James were out of the way, Barner could have been the man. In three seasons, Barner has 1,826 yards rushing (6.1 ypc) and 26 total touchdowns – 20 on the ground, four on through the air, and one each on punt and kickoff returns.

He needs 91 yards in the Rose Bowl to reach 1,000 for the season. He also has 13 TDs this season.

Barner talked about his match-up with the Wisconsin linebackers.

“They’re physical guys. But I would say that it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before from going from way back to Ohio State to Auburn, to LSU. Even Stanford. Big, physical guys.

And it’s something that we’ve seen. It’s something that we’ve been tested against, and I think we fare pretty well in most cases,” Barner said.

Oregon’s offense is very-rhythm based. The long layoff between playing in the last game, and the Rose Bowl could have a tendency to throw off the timing. Barner answered a question about this.

“I think when you’re playing in big games, you have so many timeouts, and I think that really messes it up, too. I think that is also a factor. I feel if we get the rhythm going on each drive, we’ll be okay, instead of going three and out


In this version of the spread-option system, the QB has to be fleet of feet in addition to having a strong arm and Thomas most certainly is. He only carried the ball 50 times this year; but the averaged over 4 ypc on the season and he scored 3 TDs.

The junior passed for 30 touchdowns against just six interceptions. He also established an Oregon record for career touchdown passes (63) and tied the mark for touchdown passes in a game (six). He’s the 14th rated passer in the nation.

A year after leading the Ducks against Auburn in the Bowl Championship Series title game, Thomas prepares to face the Badgers in the 98th Rose Bowl game.

“I think I’ve improved a lot, just the knowledge of being a quarterback, learning from two years ago, starting with Coach Helfrich, just learning a lot. I’ve overcome a big learning curve just in the pocket. Maybe throwing the ball; I used to throw the ball real hard. Not really accurate, but really just maybe trying to be accurate with the ball a little bit. I take my hat off to my coach teaching me every day,” Thomas said.

Darron talked about running the show in the nation’s #1 offense.

“It’s really fun, because you have a lot of different players that can do a lot of different things, to get the ball in those guys’ hands and let them perform. It’s really easy on me. Because I think it’s just a very neat deal that I get to go out and play with a lot of guys that can do a lot of great things and just put the ball in their hands,” he said.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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