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Oregon special teams excel in UCLA win

EUGENE — Opposing teams have figured out it’s a good idea to have a game plan for Charles Nelson.

The true freshman has been a dynamic special teams player for Oregon this season, returning a punt for a 50-yard touchdown in the opener against South Dakota and making nine tackles in the first five games covering kicks.

Nelson was double- and even triple-teamed by UCLA during the Ducks’ 42-30 victory at the Rose Bowl.

“Charles finished the game and his entire jersey was ripped halfway across his body,” Oregon special teams coach Tom Osborne said after Monday’s practice.

“They were grabbing and tackling him because he’s been so effective.

“That’s good. If they’re going to put two guys on Charles, somebody else is free. We just want to move him around every week. It takes all 11 of those guys.”

Oregon was able to hold Ishmael Adams in check. The Bruins’ dangerous return man did not field any of Ian Wheeler’s three punts and was held to 45 yards on three kickoff returns with a long of 16 yards.

Placekicker Matt Wogan, despite missing an extra point, was named the special teams player of the week by the coaches after all seven of his kickoffs reached the end zone.

“I had some flat kicks that I didn’t really like, but our coverage teams are the ones that won us that game. They didn’t get past the 16-yard line, and field position was huge,” Wogan said.

“UCLA is an unbelievable football team. To have our coverage guys get down there and be that quick and explosive … their mindset was great.”

Shaq for the Heisman

A defensive player hasn’t won the Heisman Trophy since Michigan cornerback and punt returner Charles Woodson in 1997.

Yale’s Larry Kelley (1936) and Notre Dame’s Leon Hart (1949) were two-way players and Heisman winners.

Washington fans believe Shaq Thomspon should be in the discussion to join the exclusive club. The junior linebacker has five touchdowns this season (one on offense, four on defense) and is an emerging star on the 5-1 Huskies, who visit Autzen Stadium on Saturday looking to end a 10-game losing streak to the Ducks.

“Shaq Thompson is really talented,” Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost said. “It’s funny watching all of their games and seeing how they all transpired. There is a saying that some guys are in the right place at the right time a lot, and he seems to be.”

Frost compared Thompson to UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, who also sparks the Bruins at running back from time to time.

Last week during Washington’s 31-7 victory at California, Thompson had a game-high 11 tackles and returned a fumble 100 yards for a touchdown. He has also scored on a 57-yard run, two other times on fumble recoveries and once on an interception.

Where were you when?

Oregon coach Mark Helfrich, a former quarterback at Southern Oregon (1992-95), was asked where he was when Kenny Wheaton made “The Pick” 20 years ago to seal the Ducks’ victory over Washington.

“I was probably throwing a pick simultaneously,” Helfrich quipped.

Actually, Helfrich was celebrating the Raiders’ 27-7 win at Eastern Oregon on Oct. 22, 1994. The road trip to La Grande was one of the highlights of Southern Oregon’s 3-6 season.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @rgduckfootball . Email ryan.thorburn@registerguard.com .