Kenjon Barner

Should Oregon move De’Anthony Thomas to WR?

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An ongoing discussion in the Pacific Northwest: Should De’Anthony Thomas’ days as a running back be over, and should the Ducks move the explosive playmaker to wide receiver?

Thomas returned from an ankle injury Saturday against UCLA and only gained 31 yards on 10 carries, struggling to break loose against a stout Bruins defensive front. They’ll face a similarly-strong defense Nov. 7 against Stanford in Palo Alto — the same defense that held the Ducks to 14 points in their only loss of 2012.

Thomas rushed six times for 43 yards in that loss, but Kenjon Barner only picked up 66 yards on 21 carries.

With all this in mind, coupled with Thomas’ likely NFL projection as a wide receiver, should Oregon move him there for the rest of the season? CSN Northwest Oregon beat writer Aaron Fentress offered his take as to why it would make sense:

With rumors swirling of Kelly’s departure, Oregon keeps its focus in Fiesta Bowl

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The Fiesta Bowl was, in fact, treated as a party — a going away party for Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Kelly’s name has become surgically attached to the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles in recent weeks. Both organizations are reportedly in Glendale, Ariz., for the bowl game in an attempt to steal Kelly away from Eugene and into the NFL. They’ll have Oregon’s permission to speak to Kelly too.

From the moment Kelly turned away the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a year ago, everyone — players, Oregon’s administrators, fans and media alike — knew this time was coming again. Hot coaching commodities have windows of opportunity and Kelly’s is wide open right now. The thought of Kelly departing Oregon for the pros surely weighed on those collective minds, and perhaps on Kelly most of all.

Yet through the distractions, Kelly did the one thing for which he’s best known: keeping his focus on the task at hand. “Win the day” is not just a cliché for the Ducks’ head coach. Neither is the “next man in” philosophy.  It’s what he personally practices and asks of everyone involved with the program. As a result, Oregon’s identity has been closer to that of a machine rather than a football team over Kelly’s four years as head coach of the Ducks.

The focus was apparent Thursday night when the No. 5 Ducks knocked off No. 7 Kansas State 35-17. On the opening kickoff, De’Anthony Thomas darted around defenders for a 94-yard touchdown run. Immediately, Oregon converted a two-point conversion by catching K-State off guard.

That’s focus (or, speed).

Up 22-10 heading into halftime thanks to a more Oregon-esque 45-second drive, Kelly still wasn’t satisfied. “I have to call a faster game,” Kelly said to ESPN’s Holly Rowe. “That’s on me.”

That’s focus (or, logistics).

The Ducks then made excellent halftime adjustments along the offensive line and running back Kenjon Barner finished with 143 yards after a sluggish first two quarters.

That’s focus (or, great coaching).

These are just examples of why Oregon is going to be fine if Kelly leaves for the NFL. His players don’t fear his departure. In fact, they respect that their coach seeks to win at the highest of levels because it’s a quality they all possess as competitors. It helps that the university also has a plan. Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich is reportedly the next-in-line to grab the reins should Kelly take his final bow. Per USA Today‘s George Schroeder, Helfrich is a pure cut from Kelly’s philosophical cloth.

He can finish Chip’s sentences,” a source told Schroeder about Helfrich. “He’s been in that environment long enough (to succeed). It’s a leap of faith but it’s very similar – I’d almost argue that it was a bigger leap (promoting) Chip than with Mark.”

If it is a leap, it’s a calculated one. Oregon has a brand and an identity on and off the field matched by few in today’s college football environment. So whether it’s Kelly leading the Ducks on to the field or Helfrich, Oregon is in a position for continued success even with a hearing with the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions looming.

If it is Helfrich? Well, Chip, it’s been fun. And a little too fast in every sense of the word.

Finalists announced for the 2012 Walter Camp Award

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Two weeks ago, the Walter Camp Foundation announced its 15 semifinalists for the prestigious National Player of the Year.

That list has now been whittled down to five.

Heisman Trophy front-runner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel headline the list of finalists, as well as one-time presumptive Heisman favorite Collin Klein of Kansas State.  Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was the only defensive player named, while Oregon running back Kenjon Barner and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee round out the list.

Stanford’s Andrew Luck won the Camp Player of the Year award in 2011.  This year’s award winner will be announced Dec. 6.

Below are the biographical quickies sent out by the Camp folks in their release of the finalists:

KENJON BARNER – OREGON – Senior – Running Back
Kenjon Barner ranks fourth in the nation in rushing yards per game (135.33) for the 11-1 Ducks… He has totaled 1,624 rushing yards (on 248 attempts) and 21 touchdowns on the season… Barner’s 22 total touchdowns rank sixth in the nation… Barner has seven 100-yard rushing efforts on the season, including a career-high 321-yard effort – with five touchdowns – in a win over USC on November 3.

COLLIN KLEIN – KANSAS STATE – Senior – Quarterback
Collin Klein has led the Wildcats to a 10-1 record entering Saturday’s regular-season finale versus Texas… Klein has passed for 2,306 yards and 14 touchdowns, completing 172-of-258 passes… He has thrown for 200 or more yards in a game six times… A dual threat, Klein has rushed for 787 more yards and 20 touchdowns…. He has rushed for two or more touchdowns in a game six times this season.

MARQISE LEE – USC – Sophomore – Wide Receiver
Second in the nation in receiving yards per game (140.0), Marqise Lee has totaled 112 catches for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns for the 7-5 Trojans… Lee has also returned 28 kickoffs for 802 yards (28.6 yards per return) and one touchdown… His best game came against Arizona on October 27 when he had 16 catches for 345 yards and two touchdowns.

JOHNNY MANZIEL – TEXAS A&M  Redshirt Freshman – Quarterback
Johnny Manziel ranks second in the nation in total offense (383.3 yards per game) for the 10-2 Aggies… He has passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, completing 273-of-400 throws… Manziel has thrown for 200 or more yards nine times this season… He has rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns, including six 100-yard efforts… His best game came in a win over Louisiana Tech on October 13 when he accounted for six touchdowns (3 rushing; 3 passing) and 576 yards (395 passing, 181 rushing), which earned him Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week honors.

MANTI TE’O – NOTRE DAME – Senior – Linebacker
Te’o is the leader of the top-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) defensive unit that ranks second in the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points allowed per game) and sixth in total defense (287.3 yards allowed per game)… Te’o has totaled 103 tackles (8.6 tackles per game) and ranks third in the nation with seven interceptions…Has played a role in 11 of Notre Dame’s 23 turnovers this year (7 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 pass hurries that directly led to interceptions).

Surprise! Tajh Boyd headlines coaches’ All-American team

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With all but a handful of games, championship and otherwise, left in the 2012 regular season book, its time for the All-American lists to start rolling out.

One of the first to do so is also one of the most prestigious.  Selected annually since 1945, the American Football Coaches’ Association All-American team is the only such squad voted on exclusively by coaches.

The 2012 edition of the AFCA All-American team is headlined by a bit of surprise, with Clemson’s Tajh Boyd named as the squad’s quarterback over the likes of Heisman front-runner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and myriad others.  It’s hard to argue with Boyd’s selection, though, as the junior is currently fourth in the country in passing efficiency (168.5), 12th in yards (3,550) and tied for sixth in touchdown passes (34).  he’s also tied for 10th in interceptions with 13, so there’s that.

Tigers offensive lineman Dalton Freeman joined his teammate on the team, making Clemson one of three schools with two players apiece along with Stanford (tight end Zach Ertz, offensive lineman David Yankey) and Texas A&M (offensive lineman Luke Joeckel, defensive lineman Damontre Moore).  Alabama led all schools with three players: offensive lineman Chance Warmack, linebacker C.J. Mosley and defensive back Dee Milliner.

Conference-wise, the SEC led all leagues with eight players selected, followed by the Pac-12’s six, the ACC’s four and the Big 12’s three.  The Big Ten, Mountain West and WAC each had one player apiece named to the squad.

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball and Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones were the only 2011 All-Americans to repeat this season.

Below is the complete 2012 AFCA All-American team:

OFFENSE
WR Marqise Lee USC
WR Terrance Williams Baylor
TE Zach Ertz Stanford
OL Chance Warmack Alabama
OL Luke Joeckel Texas A&M
C Dalton Freeman Clemson
OL Jonathan Cooper North Carolina
OL David Yankey Stanford
QB Tajh Boyd Clemson
RB Kenjon Barner Oregon
RB Montee Ball Wisconsin

DEFENSE
DL Jadeveon Clowney South Carolina
DL Bjoern Werner Florida State
DL Damontre Moore Texas A&M
DL Will Sutton Arizona State
LB Manti Te’o Notre Dame
LB Jarvis Jones Georgia
LB C.J. Mosley Alabama
DB Eric Reid LSU
DB Dee Milliner Alabama
DB Jordan Poyer Oregon State
DB Phillip Thomas Fresno State

SPECIALISTS
P Ryan Allen Louisiana Tech
PK Quinn Sharp Oklahoma State
AP Tavon Austin West Virginia

Players from non-AQ schools sweep Camp honors

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Every Sunday throughout the season, the Walter Camp Foundation honors two players, one offensive and one defensive, for their performances from the previous day.  Through 12 weeks, just three players from non-automatic qualifying conferences had been so honored, and none since Week 4.

This Sunday, the “lesser” conferences nearly matched that season-long total.

In its weekly press release, the fine folks at the Camp Foundation announced that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr and San Jose State defensive back Bené Benwikere were named as the award’s National Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.

It’s the second time this season that non-AQ schools have swept the weekly honors.

Carr, the brother of former NFL overall No. 1 draft pick David Carr, set a school record for highest completion percentage in a game, completing 28-of-32 passes (.875) for 452 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions as the Bulldogs defeated Air Force, 48-15.  The win clinched a share of the Mountain West title for the Bulldogs.

Benwikere tied a school record with three interceptions – including two in the fourth quarter – and was credited with eight tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass break-up as the Spartans beat Louisiana Tech, 52-43.

Below is the year-to-date list of weekly 2012 Camp honorees:

Week 1: West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner
Week 2: Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones
Week 3
: Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o
Week 4
: Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson, Western Michigan linebacker Desmond Bozeman
Week 5
: West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith, Penn State linebacker Michael Mauti
Week 6
: Florida running back Mike Gillislee, Oregon State cornerback Jordan Poyer
Week 7
: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene
Week 8
: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter
Week 9
: Arizona quarterback Matt Scott, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones
Week 10
: Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, Kansas State cornerback Allen Chapman
Week 11
: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger
Week 12
: Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov
Week 13
: Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr, San Jose State defensive back Bené Benwikere