Strike Up The Band, Thomas Etches Record Game

After falling on their face on college football's grandest stage on opening weekend, Darron Thomas and 13th ranked Oregon Ducks took a dramatic step in answering some of their critics Saturday afternoon, drubbing the visiting Nevada Wolfpack 69-20 before a 75th consecutive sellout at Autzen Stadium.

Oregon Ducks quarterback Darron Thomas (5) breaks free from Nevada Wolfpack defensive lineman Jack Reynoso (98) during the first quarter at Autzen Stadium. Credit: Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE.

The questions abounded and the criticism came.

Against LSU, concerns regarding the plethora of Oregon turnovers and penalties dominated the majority of headlines after the game. Though, beneath that, an undercurrent of doubt swelled around junior quarterback Darron Thomas, after his decidedly lackluster performance against the Tigers under the bright lights and big stage of Cowboys Stadium on college football's opening weekend.

One week later, Thomas and Ducks took impressive, if not significant, strides in silencing their detractors.

When it was all over and the dust had settled, the scoreboard read: Oregon 69, Nevada 20; a convincing 49-point victory that saw the Ducks score ten total touchdowns off of offensive, defensive and special teams plays. Additionally, the win and gratuitous scoring display marked the first time in Oregon history that a quarterback threw for five touchdown pass in one half.

That record now belongs to Darron Thomas, who also tied a school record for touchdown passes in a game with six.

"I just came out and did my thing," said Thomas, who claimed he didn't realize he had attained a school record during the game.

"I was just doing a regular routine. The receivers came out and did a good job."

The Houston, Tex. native's confidence in his receivers appeared high, as Thomas sprayed the ball around to seven different receivers Saturday, completing 13-of-19 passes for 295 yards and no interceptions. After a bad case of the drops plagued the Oregon receiving corp against LSU, Thomas stated he was happy with the way the group responded against Nevada and in practice leading up to the game.

"They just held on to the ball," remarked Thomas. "We had a real big week of practicing and holding on to the ball. The whole week we were big on catching, eyes to the tuck, finishing...they did a great job this week and this week payed off."

Thomas found wide receivers Rahsaan Vaughn and Lavasier Tuinei, who each scored a touchdown in leading the Ducks with three catches a piece. True freshman De'Anthony Thomas lead the Ducks in yards receiving, registering 93 yards on two electric catches that each went for touchdowns.

"I've been seeing De'Anthony do that since he got here," Thomas said of his fellow namesake. "That's the kind of expectation we have out of De'Anthony. He's a hard working guy."

Though the Tigers never notched a sack on Thomas in Arlington, settling down and finding the open receiver was difficult against LSU, as Thomas was often hurried with his timing disrupted. Against Nevada, Thomas appeared at ease, directing the Oregon offense seamlessly and with patience.

"He just made plays," said Oregon offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mark Helfrich, of Thomas. "He made good decisions and didn't try to do too much. It's what we talked about right before the game, ‘Just do Darron and everything else will work out.'"

Thomas' head coach had high praise for his performance as well, as Oregon head coach Chip Kelly lauded the play of his signal-caller in his bounce back effort versus the Wolfpack.

"I thought Darron played outstanding today," admitted Kelly. "When (Nevada) came with pressure, he got the ball off to the right guys and when you blitz us, two things happen; the band plays and it's either their band or our band and fortunately our band was playing.

"I think he just understood that last week, he missed a few things," Kelly continued. "He's just such a competitor that he won't let that happen to him twice and I thought today he came out and managed the game very, very well...that's the Darron Thomas I know."

After a momentary departure, a return to form was paramount for Thomas, who admitted that he was eager to return to the field in order to prove that the team the Ducks fielded last week, isn't the team that was projected to compete for a national championship in the preseason.

"I know everybody was waiting for us to bounce back cause they wanted to see what type of team we had," said Thomas. "They thought that was our team that we had out there last week, but we had to show guys that we're coming out this year hard and ready to go.

"Hopefully we can continue this."

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney

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