New Opponent Same Story

Oregon makes its first trip in the Pac-12 era to Colorado for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday. The Ducks have not been to Boulder since 1987 when Oregon only had two uniform combinations and hoped to be competitive in most games they played. Now of course, no one is sure what uniform the Ducks will wear on Saturday and the big question is if Oregon will score more the 50 against the home team.

Oregon started playing Colorado 62 years ago and the two teams have met 15 times previously with Colorado having an 8-7 advantage in the record book. The last time the two teams met was in the 2002 in the Fiesta Bowl when Joey Harrington secured a first-round pick in the NFL draft by going 28-for-42, 350 yards and four touchdown passes.

It was a blowout.

There likely won't be a similar passing performance by either Darron Thomas or Bryan Bennett. No one knows with any certainty who will Oregon start at quarterback against Colorado. For those of you who are new to following Chip Kelly, he doesn't discuss injuries. Thomas who went down during the first drive of the third quarter ran off the field but looked pretty uncomfortable on the sidelines. While he's been seen jogging out of practice (all practices are closed at Oregon) there is still some question if he'll play. Naturally, Chip Kelly won't say. Bryan Bennett, who so ably took over for Thomas against ASU, is by Kelly's account working hard in practice as he did last week, so judging by that it is safe to assume that Bennett could have another spectacular outing as he did against ASU. Bennett ran for 65 yards on five carries and guided two touchdown drives against a very good ASU defense in the second half last Saturday to secure the 41-27 win.

The win over ASU was win number five this season. The same story for the Ducks no matter who they are playing (as long as it isn't the No. 2 or 3 team depending on the poll), another two-touchdown plus win.

So far this season the Ducks are the conference leader in scoring (48.7 ppg), total offense (539.0 ypg), rushing offense (315.0 ypg), pass defense efficiency (112.9), punting (44.0 ypp) and tied for first for point after kicking percentage (1.000) but have 10 more makes (38-of-38) than the closest other team (Washington at 28-28).

The status of LaMichael James is still unknown. Again, Kelly doesn't talk about injuries. James, is the conference' leading rusher at 170.4 ypg, and is still has over 100 yards more rushing in five games (852) as the second place rusher in the conference, Chris Polk has in six games (728). Kenjon Barner took over for James last week against ASU and raked up 171 yards, which right at James' average. The good news for Oregon fans and the bad news for everyone else is that Oregon Running Backs Coach Gary Campbell thinks he saw a change in Barner.

"Something kind of clicked," Gary Campbell said of Barner's running style against Arizona State. "He became a physical runner as the game progressed."

Oregon is ranked No. 9 in the country (10 in the BCS standings) is 5-1 for the season 3-0 in the conference race. Colorado is 1-6 for the season, 0-3 in the conference and in the bottom half of nearly all the conference statistical categories.

Kelly when asked about the Buffaloes, has been as politically correct as he was when he was asked about Missouri State and Nevada a little earlier this season.

"They play extremely hard," said Kelly of the Buffaloes. "They've lost some players through attrition and they have a rash of injuries right now, but they play hard from the beginning of the game to the end."

Two weeks ago Colorado lost to Stanford 48-7. Andrew Luck and the Cardinal put up 553 yards of total offense to CU's 264, last week the Washington Huskies scored 52 and allowed 24 to the Buffs.

The latest victims of the injury bug for Colorado was to the team's leading rusher Rodney Stewart and the leading tackler Doug Rippy. While every team is hurting at this point of the season, Colorado's injuries have been epidemic even to the point of Head Coach Jon Embry laughingly responding to the question of using fake injuries to slow down the Duck offense.

"You don't have to worry about us faking injuries," Embry said. "We don't have to do that - when somebody's down, they're down. That's for sure."

Embry, in his first year at Colorado has Kelly's admiration for a tough job of getting the once dominant Colorado program on its feet. This year has been a struggle for the Buffaloes and this week the challenge is monumental. Even if Oregon is without its starting quarterback Thomas or tailback James, the Ducks have too much firepower. When asked how to slow the Ducks down Emby referred the questioner to Kelly.

"You have to ask Chip (Kelly)," replied Embry. "Chip knows the secret of slowing them down; you've got to get it out of him."

Kelly of course won't answer the question. Like responding to many questions asked of him, Kelly points out that he and his team focus on things they have control over, how preparation is the key to success. This week while the opponent is new, the story is the same. Deal with what you can control and prepare.

It might be a new opponent but the story remains the same.


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