'Next man up' philosophy at play for Oregon
BOULDER, Colo. — When De'Anthony Thomas will return to the lineup for the Oregon football team remains a mystery.
Starting tight end Colt Lyerla missed Saturday's trip to Folsom Field due to a violation of team rules.
But Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota had no shortage of weapons at his disposal for his seven-touchdown day that ended in a 57-16 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes.
Byron Marshall notched his third 100-yard rushing game of the season, finishing with 122 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Receiver Bralon Addison, who returned two punts for touchdowns against Cal last week, caught five passes for 158 yards and two scores. And Josh Huff caught five passes for 103 yards and two scores.
"De'Anthony is a great player and so is Colt, but the way we prepare and the way we practice, everyone is getting the same amount of reps," Huff said. "Just in case a guy goes down like De'Anthony Thomas, Thomas Tyner and Byron Marshall, they know what to do. Just in case a guy goes down like Colt, we have Pharaoh Brown and Johnny Mundt, they know what to do. That's what this program is about. It's not just one guy."
Thomas, who rolled his right ankle on the opening kickoff against Cal, was dressed in full pads for pregame warmups but wore a walking boot and was merely a spectator. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, whose squad plays at Washington next week, declined to comment Saturday on when Thomas might return.
Helfrich also didn't offer many details on Lyerla, the Ducks' third-leading receiver a year ago. But it appears he'll be back next week.
"He'll be back at treatment (Sunday) and have every opportunity to go from here," Helfrich said.
Brown, a 6-foot-6, 241-pound sophomore from Lyndhurst, Ohio, caught his first pass of the season, good for 24 yards. And Mundt, who started for Lyerla, caught one pass for 13 yards.
In all, 11 players rushed the football for Oregon, and nine players caught passes.
Helfrich was particularly bullish on his receivers. With Oregon leading 15-10 after a strong start by the Buffs, Addison's first score, a 75-yard bomb down the right sideline, marked a career long for both he and Mariota, and got the rout started for the Ducks.
"Those guys are just studs, kind of just warrior type guys in the run game and the passing game," Helfrich said. "And they love to play football. When you've got a physical group of playmakers that love football, that's a great start at that position."
DEFENSE RECOVERS: Colorado threw all it had at Oregon early, starting the game with a failed onside kick and taking a 10-8 lead on a 75-yard reverse pass from star wide receiver Paul Richardson to D.D. Goodson. That came after Colorado struck first and led 3-0 early.
The Ducks trailed for 6 minutes, 29 seconds in the first quarter, more than they have all season. And Colorado's 318 first-half yards on offense were close to what Oregon was allowing per game (320.5) coming in.
But the Ducks got things turned around and proved stingy about letting the Buffs in the end zone. Colorado went 0 for 15 on third down for the game, and mustered just 56 yards in the second half.
Cornerback Terrance Mitchell notched a pair of interceptions, jumping a screen pass to Richardson on one to set up the Ducks' go-ahead-for-good touchdown.
"I don't know if it was communication or whatnot, they just made plays," said cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who led the Ducks with eight tackles. "I think our defensive coaching staff was a step ahead the rest of the game after those first few series."
Helfrich was impressed by Richardson, who caught five passes for 134 yards and threw the reverse TD pass. He had missed the Oregon game the past two years.
"We didn't shut down Paul Richardson very much," Helfrich said. "I thought we played a little better as the day went on. That guy, wow. A couple of those one-handed catches, the guy's impressive."
BIG YARDAGE: Oregon's 755 yards of offense was the second-most in school history, trailing only the 772 against Nicholls in this year's opener.
The big output wasn't the most the Buffaloes had seen, though. Colorado surrendered 875 (758 rushing) to Oklahoma in an 82-42 loss in 1980.
EXTRA POINTS: The Ducks have now scored 50 or more points in a school-record five straight games. They've scored at least eight touchdowns in all five games this season. "¦ Oregon threw its first interceptions of the season, though both were inconsequential. Freshman quarterbacks Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues threw one each in garbage time. "¦ Mariota now has a TD pass in each of his 18 career games. "¦ Attendance was 45,944, though a majority left at halftime with the Ducks leading 43-16.