Nobody is saying that anymore.
James ran for a school-record 288 yards in last week's victory over Arizona, his second straight performance over 200 yards. He was named the Pac-12 offensive player of the week.
"Keep writing bad things about him," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "Maybe he'll run for 400 next week."
James has not taken any shots at his critics this year, but said the rumors of him slowing down have added to his motivation.
James was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year who turned down a chance to be drafted in the NFL to return for his redshirt junior season with the Ducks. Whether he turns pro after this year or next, he has left his mark in the Oregon record books.
James broke the record of 285 rushing yard set by Onterrio Smith in 2001. James also had 60 yards on punt returns and 15 receiving yards against the Wildcats and his 363 all-purpose yards broke Smith's record of 342.
James had two touchdowns against Arizona that gave him a school-record 42 rushing touchdowns and 47 total touchdowns. He has rushed for 200 or more yards five times in his career to set another school record and his 20th 100-yard game extended his school record. With 3,890 career yards, he is ranked ninth on the Pac-12's all-time rushing list.
The critics who attacked his speed after the loss to LSU also said that performance would take him out of the Heisman Trophy race this season, but James is back in the mix. His 613 rushing yards on 65 carries is an average of 9.43 yards per carry and 153.25 yards per game, the latter category ranking second in the nation.
--Kenny Wheaton, a defensive back at Oregon from 1994-96, is one of five individuals who will be inducted into the Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame later this month. Wheaton was a three-time All-American and All-Pac-10 selection who is best remembered for an 97-yard interception return during his freshman year that helped get the Ducks into the Rose Bowl. He ranks eighth on the school's career list with 11 interceptions and holds school records with 380 interception return yards and three interception returns for touchdowns.
--The father of Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich died suddenly in his Tucson, Ariz., hotel room last week, only hours before the Ducks played Arizona. Mike Helfrich died of natural causes at age 68. Mike Helfrich was a high school football coach for 15 seasons at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay, Ore., where Mark Helfrich was a star quarterback.
--Oregon has won two consecutive Thursday night games. The Ducks defeated UCLA, 60-13, last season and beat Oregon State, 37-33, in 2009. Oregon's last Thursday loss was 19-8 in the 2009 season-opener at Boise State.
SERIES HISTORY: Cal leads Oregon, 39-32-12 (last meeting, 2010, 15-13 Oregon).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Oregon is averaging 52 points and 533.8 yards per game to rank among the national leaders, but Cal's defense has been tough early this season. The have allowed Bears 314.3 yards per game, but that small figure has still resulted in an abnormal 24.3 points per game. Cal is allowing only 78.25 rushing yard per game, but that will be tested by Oregon, which runs for 299.5 yards per game.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: California is throwing for nearly 300 yards per game, but pass defense has been a strength of the Ducks, who are giving up 208.3 yards through the air despite three straight blowout victories when their opponents were forced to throw for most of the second half. The Ducks have not been getting many turnovers, only one a game on average.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're just trying to get better and improve in fundamentals," Oregon coach Chip Kelly told The Eugene Register-Guard after the bye week. "We don't count it as a bye week. We talk about it being an improvement week. How do we get better at all the little tiny things we did. We practiced real hard on Tuesday and again on Thursday, and we're back out here again today getting ready for Cal."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Cal at Oregon, Oct. 6 -- Oregon got its toughest test in the regular season last year at Cal before winning, 15-13. Cal was the only team in the Pac-10 to lose by single digits against Oregon last year. The Bears kept the Ducks to less than one-third of their average point total last year and have had a couple extra days to prepare for Oregon this year after a bye last week.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Oregon's pace of play embarrassed the Bears last year. The Ducks fast-paced offense eventually forced Cal to admit having a player fake an injury during the game to allow the defense to have time to rest. Other teams were suspected of doing that last year, but the Bears were the only ones to be caught on camera.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
WR Lavasier Tuinei -- It has been a quiet start to the season for the senior, but the team's top returning receiver has 15 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns. There are seven players on the team who average more than Tuinei's 11.8 yards per catch, but he has become the most reliable wide receiver on the roster and regularly makes the tough catch over the middle or a big conversion on third down.
K Alejandro Maldonado -- Eventually, Oregon is going to have to kick another field goal this season and it looks like the sophomore will be the one to do it. Rob Beard made two field goals in the opener against LSU, but has missed the last three games because of an undisclosed injury. Maldonado has filled in, but has not had a field-goal attempt in three games. He has made all 25 of his extra points and averages 65.8 yards on 29 kickoffs. It is unknown when Beard will return to the field.
LB Dewitt Stuckey -- The senior is a first-year starter at linebacker who has filled in for a couple expected starters. He got extra time in the opener when Kiko Alonso was suspended and now he is helping fill the void left by injured Michael Clay. Stuckey leads the Ducks with 24 tackles and is tied for the lead with 14 solo tackles. He also has a sack and two tackles for losses.
--Oregon coach Chip Kelly refuses to discuss injuries, so it is unclear if any of the players who missed the last couple weeks will return to face Cal. K Rob Beard has missed three games in a row and Michael Clay has missed two straight games because of a leg injury. Both are starters if they return.
--One player not expected back soon is OL Ramsen Golpashin, who is out with a knee injury that is feared to be season-ending.