James Anchors Oregon In Blowout Win

In a game that was predictably decided before halftime, the No. 12 Oregon Ducks sprinted to a 56-7 win over the Missouri State Bears on the legs of junior running back LaMichael James and his 204 rushing yards.

Since Chip Kelly took the reigns as head coach of the Oregon football program prior to the 2009 season, speed, tempo and pace have been hallmarks of his teams.

Similarly, Oregon junior running back LaMichael James had worn an analogous label, that is, until he ran up against LSU's punishing defense and lacked the explosive, big play ability against Nevada.

According to some, 15 additional pounds of muscle gained in the offseason was to blame for the absence of electricity and maybe, just maybe, the hits and the carries had begun to catch up with Oregon's Heisman Trophy finalist from 2010.

James' response?

"People are gonna think what they're gonna think,"

But?

"If anyone wants to place some bets and race me, then so be it."

Admittedly, while James' 204 yards rushing and three touchdowns on only 12 carries came against what appears to be the weakest competition the Ducks will face all season, the Texarkana, Tx. native displayed an aggressive and eager running style that hadn't been witnessed since last season; evidenced by touchdown runs of 50 and 90 yards on Saturday afternoon, the latter of which set an Oregon Autzen Stadium record and ranked second in school history for longest play from scrimmage.

Not bad for a guy who's lost a step.

"I think it's more just being instinctive and trusting yourself and being one cut and go," said James, who conceded after the LSU game that he wasn't playing like "himself."

"It's about being me and playing for me and the team, and not in a selfish way ... I just need to get better. Each and every week I need to come out and compete and be more instinctive and trust in the linemen and the blocks and trust in my myself."

While not to the shocking degree, much like 2009, acquiring confidence and trust early in the season has not been that easy to come by. By the fourth game of the '09 season, the Ducks had it, and if the last two games are any indication, James and his offensive line are ahead of schedule heading in to their fourth game next weekend on the road in Tucson where the Ducks open Pac-12 play against Arizona.

"(Chemistry) takes time," said James. "We've been struggling just because of chemistry ... it takes time to get that game experience and understanding with reps. The offensive line is doing a great job and so are the wide receivers blocking downfield.

"Everything is coming together like I thought it would."

Oregon senior offensive lineman Mark Asper agreed, as the Duck offensive line paved the way for 416 yards rushing on the day.

"I think we're doing a good job of using every game as a learning experience and looking at the film and being honest with ourselves about what we need to improve on," said Asper.

"It's about going out and trying to correct those (mistakes) and prepare every week better than we did the week before for the next challenge."

As previously mentioned, the next challenge for Oregon is next Saturday's date in the desert with the Arizona Wildcats; a team that has fought the Ducks tooth and nail each of the last four seasons. With coaches and players believing they are finally ready for what portends to be a rugged Pac-12 conference schedule after two consecutive 49-point victories over non-conference lambs, speed, tempo and pace seem to once again be part of the equation for James and the Oregon offense.

"I feel like we're getting ‘it' right before conference ... it's gonna be a battle," said James of next week's contest at Arizona.

"I'm really happy with the way we played today, but this game is over now. We have to get back and study film and we'll have to go out and play hard. We're on the road and it's going to be a tough opponent."

Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney


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