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Oregon Weekly Football Release - Week 5
Release Date: 09/28/2009
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For the complete release with full notes, statistics, etc., please view the PDF.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. PDT at Autzen Stadium with a live telecast on Comcast SportsNet Northwest and the O-Zone (subscription required at A live radio broadcast will be available across the Oregon Sports Network and on XM 195 and Sirius 217.

•The Ducks lead the all-time series, 41-38-7, and have won the past two meetings by a combined score of 116-21.
•The Cougars are making only their third appearance at Autzen Stadium since 2003 and are 1-1 in their last two trips to Eugene.
•Oregon is 10-8 against WSU all-time at Autzen.

•The Ducks have the longest current Pac-10 winning streak, in terms of conference games, having won four straight dating to last season. UO has won five consecutive Pac-10 games at Autzen Stadium.
•FR RB LaMichael James became the 29th player in UO history to record multiple 100-yard rushing efforts with his 118-yard day vs. Cal, his second straight game eclipsing the century mark.
•Oregon is ranked for the first time since the preseason polls, coming in at No. 16 in the AP top 25, No. 25 in the USA Today (coaches) poll, and No. 23 in the Harris Poll. The latter two polls are utilized when factoring BCS rankings.
Chip Kelly is the first UO rookie coach since Prink Callison in 1932 to win his first three games in Eugene.
•The Ducks are 10-0 in games when SR PK Morgan Flint scores at least one point.

Preseason All-America Walter Thurmond III will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a knee injury on the opening kickoff vs. Cal (Sept. 26). The senior cornerback got off to a great start in 2009 and played instrumental roles in wins over Purdue (Sept. 12) and Utah (Sept. 19), returning an interception and punt return for touchdowns in those two games, respectively. The fourth-year starter posted 17 tackles in three appearances this year in addition to being ranked second in the Pacific-10 Conference (21st nationally) in punt returns (15.0 avg.) and fifth in the league in kickoff returns (27.7 avg.).

SR RB LeGarrette Blount is under an indefinite suspension following his involvement in a post-game incident after Oregon’s 19-8 loss at Boise State on Sept. 3. Head coach Chip Kelly has allowed Blount to remain on scholarship as a member of the school’s football program for the rest of the year, and will consider the possibility of reinstatement if the Perry, Fla., native meets certain criteria. Since his suspension, Blount has continued to practice with the team as a member of the scout team. Blount rushed for 1,002 yards a year ago and established a school record with 17 rushing touchdowns.

SR TE Ed Dickson was named national offensive player of the week by the Walter Camp Football Foundation for Week 4 of the college football season, following his performance vs. Cal (Sept. 26). The All-America candidate had career bests of 11 receptions, 148 yards and three touchdowns in UO’s 42-3 romp over the then-No. 6 Golden Bears. His 11 grabs equalled the previous school single-game mark by a tight end, tying Josh Wilcox, who had 11 in the 1995 Rose Bowl. Dickson is also one of four nominees for AT&T’s All-America Player of the Week along with Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn, Cincinnati wide receiver Mardy Gilyard and NC State quarterback Russell Wilson. Fans can vote by texting the word VOTE to 345345 and will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the BCS National Championship Game. Voting runs until 11:59 p.m. ET on Wednesday with the winner announced on Thursday’s ESPN College Football Primetime show.

SR TE Ed Dickson became the first Duck to garner Pac-10 player of the week honors in 2009, winning the offensive award for Week 4 (11 rec, 148 yds, 3 TD vs. Cal, Sept. 26). In addition, he was selected as the John Mackey tight end of the week and the College Football Performance Awards tight end performer of the week. Dickson recorded the second 100-yard receiving game of his career to become the 30th player in school history with multiple century-mark receiving efforts.

In his third career appearance and first career start, FR RB LaMichael James rushed for more yards in a single game - 152 on Sept. 19 vs. Utah - than any freshman in UO school history. His total broke Sean Burwell’s (1990-93) mark of 144 vs. Stanford in 1990 and was the most by a frosh since Terrence Whitehead (2002-05) ran for 132 yards against the Cardinal in 2002.

Only four games into his career, FR RB LaMichael James became the 29th player in school history to record multiple 100-yard rushing games, when he followed up 152 yards vs. Utah (Sept. 19) with 118 vs. Cal (Sept. 26). The UO record for 100-yard performances by a freshman in one season is five, set by Sean Burwell in 1990.

The Ducks ended the nation’s longest active winning streak at 16 games, when they defeated then-No. 18 Utah, 31-24, on Sept. 19. It was the Utes first loss since Nov. 24, 2007, at BYU. The following week, UO snapped Cal’s Pac-10 best six game streak (all games).

JR DE Kenny Rowe is tied for tenth in sacks per game at 1.12 ... SR CB Walter Thurmond III ranks 21st in punt returns, with an average of 15.0, and 31st in kickoff returns (27.71) ... FR RB LaMichael James is 35th in rushing average at 87.0 yards per game.

Through Week 4 of the college football season, Oregon’s 2009 schedule is the tenth toughest in the Football Bowl Subdivision based on past opposition for teams that play at least nine inter-division games. In addition, the 25 collective wins to date by teams on UO’s schedule this season are the third most among FBS teams.

JR QB Jeremiah Masoli had his streak of scoring at least one rushing touchdown end at six games vs. Cal (Sept. 26), but he still leads the team with four rushing scores on the year. The Bay Area native has rushed for at least one score in nine of his last 11 games and has 14 career TDs in 16 games as a Duck.

No fewer than eight players have either already completed requirements for their undergraduate degrees or are expected to by the end of the coming season. DE Will Tukuafu, DB Titus Jackson already have earned their degrees while CB Willie Glasper, TE Ed Dickson, LB Riley Showalter, CB Walter Thurmond III, DT Simi Toeaina and DB T.J. Ward are all expected to qualify to graduate no later than the end of the 2009 fall term.

Few players looked forward to the start of the 2009 season more than Nate Costa. On Sept. 12 vs. Purdue, the junior quarterback stepped onto the field for the first time since Nov. 11, 2006, when he completed both of his pass attempts for 22 yards and ran for another 25 yards at USC. Against the Boilermakers, Costa was the holder on five extra-points and two field goal attempts. The Hillmar, Calif., product took his first quarterback snaps of ‘09 vs. Cal (Sept. 26) and completed his first two passes, running his string of consecutive completions in his career to seven. He missed his first-ever pass on his eighth all-time attempt and finished the game with a line of 4-7-0 for 35 yards. In his UO career, Costa has suffered two season-ending knee injuries, the last of which occurred just over a week prior to the start of the 2008 season.

It speaks well of a program when former players return to their alma mater after they have graduated to fill a role within the athletics department and Oregon has benefitted from an influx of recent returnees. In addition to long-time assistant coaches Steve Greatwood and Don Pellum, who have both served on the Oregon coaching staff for over 20 years, the Ducks have added four former players in various capacities. Former standout linebacker Peter Sirmon (1996-99) begins his first year as one of Oregon graduate assistant coaches, In addition, former defensive backs Rashad Bauman (1997-01) and Matthew Harper (2006-07) have returned as football interns while wide receiver Garren Strong (2004-07) is a recruiting intern.

An overlooked facet of Oregon’s success has been the continuity of its coaching staff. Although first-year head coach Chip Kelly begins only his third season as part of the Ducks’ program and only the school’s third head football coach in 33 years, the core of the staff has remained intact over the course of three different head coaches. Running backs coach Gary Campbell enters his 27th year on the Oregon staff, which equals the longest tenure of any Oregon assistant football coach in school history. In addition, offensive line coach and running game coordinator Steve Greatwood begins his 25th year on the Ducks’ coaching staff, linebackers coach Don Pellum is in his 22nd season, while defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti begins his 19th season at Oregon.

As has become the norm for Oregon football, the Ducks have several players on preseason watch lists for major college football awards:

Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year)
SR DE Will Tukuafu

Ted Hendricks Award (top def. lineman)
SR DE Will Tukuafu

John Mackey Award (top tight end)
SR TE Ed Dickson

Manning Award (top quarterback, including bowl games)
JR QB Jeremiah Masoli

Maxwell Award (player of the year)
SR RB LeGarrette Blount
JR QB Jeremiah Masoli

Davey O’Brien Award (top quarterback)
JR QB Jeremiah Masoli

Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back)
SR CB Walter Thurmond III

Doak Walker Award (top running back)
SR RB LeGarrette Blount

SR TE Ed Dickson, an All-America candidate and member of the watch list for the 2009 John Mackey Award recognizing the top tight end in college football, is bidding to become the top receiver at the position in Oregon history. The senior has 97 career receptions, ranking second among UO tight ends, and 1,212 yards to rank second.

Oregon had seven first-time starters among the 22 players who received opening assignments in the season opener, Sept. 3, at Boise State. On the offense, FR LG Carson York, SO TE David Paulson and SR RB LeGarrette Blount made their first career starts, while on defense,  JR DT Brandon Bair, SR DT Blake Ferras, JR DE Kenny Rowe and SO ROV Javes Lewis were first-time starters. In addition, specialists Rob Beard (FR KO), Michael Clay (FR LS) and Jackson Rice (FR P), made first team debuts. In Week 2, FR FS John Boyett became the eighth Duck to start his first game. Week 3 saw SO LB Josh Kaddu, FR RB LaMichael James and SO WR Lavasier Tuinei make inaugural starts, and in Week 4 JR WR D.J. Davis became the 12th first-time starter for UO this season.

In 2007, Oregon ended the year utilizing the services of 10 true freshmen. Last season, that number dropped to five, including current squad members Garrett Embry (WR), Josh Kaddu (LB), Dewitt Stuckey (LB) and Darron Thomas (QB). This year, the Ducks have called upon only two newcomers who were preparing for their final high school seasons a year ago: P Jackson Rice, who was rated as the nation’s best by one scouting service in 2008 after averaging 47.6 yards for Moraga’s (CA) Campolindo High School, and Michael Clay, who joined the Ducks this summer as a linebacker from San Jose’s Bellarmine Prep, and started the season as the team’s long snapper.

With the departure of three offensive linemen who were keys to last year’s offensive success and spent the summer in NFL camps, Oregon’s starting interior line entered the season having  accumulated a total of only 20 career starting assignments. The defensive line was in a similar situation, returning 24 career starts -- all by DE Will Tukuafu. What may be lacking in the number of returning headliners is accounted for in experience in the program. Eight of the 10 offensive linemen in the team’s two-deep have already been in the program for a minimum of two seasons.

Following the first game, the Ducks were permitted to expand their roster from 105 to as many as 119 for the remainder of the season and added 11 players. Of the new additions, three took part in spring practices – JR TE Sam Doman, JR OL Justin Fritz and SO DL Nick Musgrove. Expansion also brings the return of FR RB Jordan Thompson, who began fall camp on the 105-man roster, but was sent home due to illness. Spring signee and scholarship student-athlete FR DB Avery Patterson is now formally on the squad. He is joined by fellow true freshmen WR Ben Butterfield (Sherwood, OR/Sherwood), the younger brother of UO cornerback Brian Butterfield, DB J.R. Maffie, DE Andy McIntyre and DB Tyler Rittenhour, a prep teammate of FR P Jackson Rice. Rounding out the newcomers are a pair of former junior college players, JR RB Andres Reed and JR OL Josh Sanford, both from College of the Siskiyous.

It didn’t take first-year head coach Chip Kelly long to experience his team being tested by a top 25 school as the Ducks drew No. 14 Boise State on the road to open the 2009 campaign. Oregon fell to the Broncos, 19-8, but have since defeated No. 18 Utah, 31-24, and No. 6 Cal, 42-3, to improve to 2-1. One of Oregon’s future opponents, USC, is currently ranked No. 7 in both of the major polls. Oregon was 2-1 when facing ranked teams (the week they played them) in 2008.

Seniors Walter Thurmond III and Will Tukuafu, and juniors Jordan Holmes and Jeremiah Masoli, have been elected season-long captains following a team vote.

Oregon’s spread offense has garnered plenty of attention over the past few seasons, but 2009 is looking like the year of the spread defense for the Ducks. In the win over No. 6 California Sept. 26, the Ducks had 19 players record two or more tackles, with no one player making more than five.

Head coach Chip Kelly made his sideline debut at Autzen Stadium in the home opener Sept. 12 (W 38-36) after spending the past two seasons calling plays from a booth high above the field as the team’s offensive coordinator. Since Kelly’s arrival in 2007, the Ducks are 13-3 at Autzen, averaging 40.0 points per game at home.

Oregon has been selected for at least seven national television appearances this season, including the first four games of the season - Sept. 3 at Boise State (ESPN), Sept. 12 vs. Purdue (FSN), Sept. 19 vs. Utah (ESPN) and Sept. 26 vs. Cal (ABC). In addition, upcoming home games at UCLA (Oct. 10, ABC), vs. USC (Oct. 31, ABC/ESPN/ESPN2) and vs. Oregon State (Dec. 3, ESPN) are all confirmed for broadcast.

For only the third time in school history, Oregon has sold over 43,000 football season tickets, with ticket sales topping the 43,200 mark. That total is slightly below the 43,242 figure from 2007 while the Ducks sold 44,182 season tickets a year ago. Single-game reserved seats already have been exhausted for home games vs. USC (Oct. 31) and Oregon State (Dec. 3), while only scattered seats remain for contests against Washington State (Oct. 3) and Arizona State (Nov. 14).

SR CB Walter Thurmond III recorded the third interception return for a touchdown of his career in UO’s Sept. 12 win vs. Purdue, placing him in a three-way tie with Rashad Bauman (1997-01) and Kenny Wheaton (1994-96) for the most in school history. Thurmond is also tied with Tennessee’s Eric Berry and UCLA’s Alterraun Verner for the most Pick-6 touchdowns by active NCAA FBS players.

Since the era of two-platoon football was re-established in the college game for good in 1965, no Oregon defensive player has accounted for more touchdowns than SR CB Walter Thurmond III. The senior has broken the plane of the end zone five times – one fumble return for a touchdown vs. Fresno State (‘07), interceptions against South Florida (’07), Oregon State (’08) and Purdue (’09), as well as punt return for a score vs. Utah (’09). Prior to Thurmond, cornerback Michael Fletcher (1996-99) held the unofficial record for most touchdowns by a non-offensive player – four (one fumble return in 1997, two punt returns in ’98 and a punt return in ’99).

With above capacity crowds vs. Purdue and Utah the past two weeks, Oregon has now sold out Autzen Stadium (cap. 54,000) for 64 consecutive games, dating to 1999.

The first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) standings for the 2009 college football season will be released Oct. 18. Final BCS standings and teams selected for games will be announced on Dec. 6. The Ducks rank among the top 15 schools all-time in BCS standings appearances with 45, and are the only Pac-10 school other than USC (T6th, 57) on the list.

Ducks On Pac-12 Networks