Oregon’s running back De’Anthony Thomas (6) out runs a Arizona State defender during the second half Saturday night.
Oregon's running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) out runs a Arizona State defender during the second half Saturday night. ( Don Ryan )

Wounded Ducks.

No. 9 Oregon will limp into Folsom Field for this Saturday's game against Colorado.

Even if superstar running back LaMichael James (dislocated elbow) and starting quarterback Darron Thomas (knee) miss the game, the visitors from Eugene will be heavy favorites against the bruised and battered Buffs.

Reserves Kenjon Barner (171 yards, one touchdown) and De'Anthony Thomas (73 yards, two touchdowns) -- who would be starters on most teams -- shredded Arizona State's defense late Saturday to lead Oregon to a 41-27 victory.

Backup quarterback, Bryan Bennett, marched the mighty Ducks on four scoring drives in the second half against the Sun Devils, who still lead the Pac-12's South Division.

"We've had a lot of guys offensively, defensively, on special teams unfortunately go down," Oregon offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich told espn.com after the game. "It's next guy in."

Helfrich was Dan Hawkins' offensive coordinator at CU from 2006-08. The Oregon native wisely abandoned a sinking ship in Boulder to become Chip Kelly's right-hand man.

The Ducks led the nation in scoring (47.0 ppg) and total offense (530.69 ypg). Oregon is currently third nationally in scoring (48.7 ppg) and eighth in total offense (539.0 ypg).

Meanwhile, CU's injury-plagued defense is coming off a sad performance in Seattle. Washington piled up 562 yards during a 52-24 victory over the Buffs.


The only teams that have been able to stop the Ducks recently reside in the SEC.

"Speed and tempo," CU defensive coordinator Greg Brown said when asked what makes Oregon's offense so productive. "They use every inch of the field. The spread you out and use every inch of the field from sideline to sideline."

Brown was the co-defensive coordinator at Arizona last season when the No. 1-ranked Ducks traveled to Tucson to face the No. 20 Wildcats.

Thomas passed for 148 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score, and James rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns to lead Oregon to a 48-29 win en route to the BCS national championship game.

"They have great coaches. Last year when we matched up with them, Arizona had a bye, Oregon had a bye," said Brown, who was CU's secondary coach when Helfrich was on the staff. "Mark and those guys did a better job than we did of preparing, and they beat us."

CU quarterback Tyler Hansen is still close to Helfrich, who mentored him through some growing pains early in his career.

"What they're doing at Oregon, you could see that vision when coach Helfrich was here. We just didn't have the personnel," Hansen said. "It's been fun to see his offenses do so well the last few years. That's the vision he had for us."

CU basketball coach Tad Boyle was a young assistant at Oregon from 1994-97. He watched as Rich Brooks was succeeded by offensive coordinator Mike Bellotti and expectations for Oregon football were raised.

Kelly served as Bellotti's offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach in 2009 and leading the Ducks to the Rose Bowl during his first season.

"They've got a lot of continuity in their football program, which I think has served them well. They have a lot of loyal guys," Boyle said. "They were always fun to watch offensively. They were very creative and it was fun to go to the games because there would be trick plays, fake field goals, fake punts, they would push the envelope offensively.

"They're much more athletic now. I think speed is kind of their deal now. I'm not a football guy, but just watching you can tell that. They do think outside the box and they're innovative."