TUCSON, Ariz. — De'Anthony Thomas says no one can get inside his head, and you would have trouble finding anyone who disagrees.
It can be difficult to tell what's happening behind Thomas' smile, even when Thomas is there to translate. If you accept the explanation at face value, though, the junior running back wasn't fazed by any backlash he received for appearing indifferent to the prospect of playing in the Rose Bowl.
"That stuff doesn't bother me at all," Thomas said. "I just feel like people are trying to get in my head, but I don't feel like nobody can get in my head. I just do me and just try to make plays."
Thomas insisted that motivation wasn't an issue for the Ducks on Saturday, though the final score — Arizona 42, Oregon 16 — would suggest that something was amiss. Whatever it was, Thomas said he didn't sense a lack of focus.
"Not at all," he said. "We came out here ready to play football."
Saturday was a busy day for Thomas, who led the Ducks in both rushing and receiving. In addition to catching six passes for 74 yards, Thomas rushed for 83 yards on 16 carries, his heaviest workload since logging 18 carries in the season opener against Nicholls.
Thomas' role in the running game was partly a product of an injury to sophomore Byron Marshall, who left the game after a run that nearly was ruled a touchdown before being spotted at the 6-yard line. Marshall, who gained 4 yards and still needs 5 to reach 1,000 for the season, left the field on crutches with a boot on his right foot.
"I'm always ready to make plays and contribute to this team," Thomas said of Marshall's absence. "It doesn't make a big difference."
Thomas had his ups and downs, including a key drop on Oregon's second series. With the Ducks facing third-and-9 from their own 15-yard line, quarterback Marcus Mariota found Thomas on a crossing route with room to run, but the ball slipped through Thomas' hands, leading to an Oregon punt and a 14-0 Arizona lead.
"We had a chance to probably tie the game, running uncovered in the middle of the field, and couldn't make that play," coach Mark Helfrich said.
Thomas said he wasn't haunted by the drop.
"Not at all," he said. "That was a surprise ball. I feel like I made up for it fast. You've just got to forget about it. It doesn't matter."
Thomas delivered a highlight-reel catch later in the first quarter, reaching back for a one-handed grab on a ball that was thrown slightly high and behind him, for a 20-yard gain. That, too, left no lasting impression.
"It's just a play," Thomas shrugged. "You've just got to forget about it and make more plays."
If the Ducks had trouble getting jazzed for the prospect of playing in the Rose Bowl, the idea of playing for a Holiday or Alamo Bowl could be even less enticing. But Thomas maintained that motivation wasn't a problem for him Saturday and said it wouldn't be an issue next week when the Ducks prepare to face Oregon State.
"I'm excited," he said. "I'm not really worried about a Ro ... a bowl game right now. We're just worried about our next opponent."