How about a little love for LaMike?

LaMichael James is out*. That's right, the player who's rushed for more than 4,100 yards, caught another 538 yards, and scored 48 touchdowns in his third playing for the Ducks. He's won the Doak Walker Award, was a consensus All-American in 2010, and finished third in last year's Heisman Trophy voting.

Additionally, he's succeeded with class, owned his mistakes and by all accounts, led by example. And he's not going to be missed?

I know that the majority of you aren't thinking along such lines, but the vocal minority have made themselves heard. "We can do it without him," "Barner and DeAnthony Thomas won't miss a beat," and "it's the system" are a few of the sentiments echoing from those misguided souls. Most, while appreciative of James' many contributions, are poo-pooing his absence and trivializing what said absence could possibly mean to this team. And it has me scratching my head.

In 2009, LeGarrette Blount not-so-triumphantly showed himself the door in regards to the Oregon Ducks football team, and in the process opened that same door for a redshirt freshman named "LaMike." While most of us would agree that the transition from Blount to James was nearly seamless, most would also agree that while LeGarrette was an exceptional talent, LaMichael was a far better fit for what Chip Kelly's system asks a back to do. You need quickness; he's got it. You need strength; he's got that. And you need top-end speed to finish the plays that on a handful of occasions nearly every week, are going to be there to be finished; and James without question has that as well. While all of the aforementioned traits are rather obvious virtues for running backs to possess, few bring all to the table and even fewer do so with the intensity of LaMichael James. And I don't think that can be oversold.

I like Kenjon Barner and am excited about what the future may hold for DeAnthony Thomas, but I love LaMichael James and I know what he brings to the table now. He has a knack for eluding defenders, senses when to make a cut, and has the strength and the fortitude to challenge a would-be-tackler in an effort to get that extra yard. He backs down from no one and when the game is on the line, he wants the ball in his hands…and knows what to do with it when he does.

Can Oregon win without James? Of course they can. Is the Ducks' system responsible for a level of their running success? Without a doubt, but to act as though they're not losing something in the absence of their All-American and emotional leader would border on idiotic.

The Ducks are deep at the running back position and if they were to suffer an injury there are far worse positions to lose from, yet to dismiss LMJ's absence with ease of any sort not only bothers yours truly, but disrespects a great player, a great Duck and a great young man worthy of far better.

Oregon's in good hands without LaMichael James, but would be in far better with him.

*(Editor's note: No announcement has been made regarding James status.)

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