De’Anthony Thomas sparks images of Devin Hester

As if facing undefeated Oregon wasn’t challenging enough, UCLA must worry about an additional threat this Saturday: running back De’Anthony Thomas.

The All-America candidate has missed almost four full games with a sprained ankle, but declared himself ready to play against the Bruins. Thomas averaged 8.0 yards per carry as the Ducks’ lead back. After the emergence of sophomore Byron Marshall (746 yards, nine touchdowns) and freshman Thomas Tyner (360 yards, seven touchdowns), he could move back into a more versatile role.

Through his first two seasons, Thomas moved all over the lineup and rolled out 3,992 all-purpose yards. Comparisons don’t always come easily for such a player, but UCLA linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich gave it a shot. Continue reading “De’Anthony Thomas sparks images of Devin Hester” »

At a glance: No. 12 UCLA at No. 2 Oregon

No. 12 UCLA (5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) at No. 2 Oregon (7-0, 4-0)
Autzen Stadium, Oct. 26, 4 p.m.
TV: ESPN (Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
Radio: 570 AM (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)

Last meeting: An already-fired Rick Neuheisel coached his final game, a spot in the 2011 Pac-12 Championship game that came by way of a USC postseason ban. UCLA lost 49-31 against No. 8 Oregon, as LaMichael James rushed for three scores — tying LenDale White with 52 career touchdowns.

He scored one more in a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, taking sole possession of second in conference history.

Key storylines: UCLA is trying to rebound after its first loss of the season, a 24-10 loss at Stanford in which its offense struggled as much as ever in the Jim Mora era. Continue reading “At a glance: No. 12 UCLA at No. 2 Oregon” »

Pac-12’s Top 25 Players, Part V

Picking up from Parts I, II, III and IV, here are the final five in our top 25 countdown.

5. De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon

Thomas claims track and field season made him even faster — a frightening prospect given that he already threatened to score whenever he touched the ball. The 5-foot-9, 176-pound back is about 20 pounds lighter than All-American predecessors Kenjon Barner and LaMichael James, but is more versatile as a receiver and returner. He’s also responsible for the best tweets in the Pac-12. Continue reading “Pac-12’s Top 25 Players, Part V” »

Pac-12’s Top 25 Players, Part IV

Picking up from Parts I, II and III, here are the next five in our Pac-12 top 25 countdown.

10. Morgan Breslin, USC

Originally thought of as a probable reserve, Breslin emerged when defensive end Devon Kennard lost his season to a pec injury. As a first-year starter after transferring from Diablo Valley College, Breslin notched the most tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (13) for any Trojan since 2003. He should be just as effective a pass rusher as he moves to outside linebacker for 2013. Continue reading “Pac-12’s Top 25 Players, Part IV” »