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4 Oregon
August 20, 2012
Duck season begins on Nov. 3, when the West Coast will be won or lost
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August 20, 2012

4 Oregon

Duck season begins on Nov. 3, when the West Coast will be won or lost

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The Skinny

DUCKS COACH Chip Kelly confesses that he doesn't know exactly how to describe De'Anthony Thomas's position in the Oregon offense. But Kelly does know that wherever Thomas lines up, the 5'9", 173-pound sophomore will play an even bigger role this fall than he did in 2011, when he averaged a ridiculous 10.8 yards a carry, scored 18 touchdowns (seven rushing, nine receiving, two on kick returns) and rolled up 2,235 all-purpose yards. The slashing Thomas, a sprinter on the Ducks' track team, will, in fact, line up at both slot receiver and running back, where he and senior starter Kenjon Barner will provide a measure of depth to Oregon's unusually sparse stable of runners.

Key Recruit

ARIK ARMSTEAD The athletic 6'8", 297-pound defensive end enrolled early to participate in spring practice. He should be ready to contribute immediately in the Ducks' 3--4 system and should complement the play of hybrid all-conference pass rusher Dion Jordan.

Breakout Player

RAHSAAN VAUGHN The 6'2", 193-pound senior was a junior college All-America, but he caught only 14 passes last season while struggling with injuries and the pace of Kelly's no-huddle attack. Besides Thomas, Oregon lacks a playmaking wideout, but Vaughn's speed makes him a potential game-breaker.

Final Analysis

THE DUCKS began fall camp trying to settle on a quarterback. Sophomore Bryan Bennett won two games last season filling in for injured starter Darron Thomas—who left school early and wasn't taken in the NFL draft—but he was overshadowed in the spring game by redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota, who ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns, one on a weaving 82-yard scamper, while throwing for 202 yards and another score. No matter who wins the job, there is enough offensive talent to paper over most flaws, and Oregon should be 8--0 heading into its Nov. 3 showdown at USC.