The No.2-ranked Oregon Ducks have been a powerhouse for the last couple of years with speedsters such as LaMichael James, Dennis Dixon and even tight ends such as Ed Dickson.
In 2011, James led the Ducks to a Rose Bowl victory and the National Championship the year before in which they lost by three.
This season, the Ducks (6-0) have defeated quality teams such as University of Arizona, 49-0, the 23rd-ranked Washington Huskies, 52-21 and their lowest margin of victory was a 17 in Week 2 win over Fresno State.
While James was the biggest impact player on the Ducks in 2011, Oregon's receiver/running back De'Anthony Thomas has stepped in and has been dominant game in and game out. Many players on the Ducks contribute to the success such as quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner, but without Thomas they likely wouldn’t be as explosive offensively.
Thomas has nine total touchdowns this season -- six from rushing and three receiving. Thomas doesn't receive half of the carries that Barner receives but Thomas gets the job done every time he carries the ball. Averaging 9.2 rushing yards per attempt, Thomas leads the nation in that category and should only continue to dominate with his speed.
Not only does Thomas carry the ball for a first down the majority of the time, he also averages just over 10 yards per reception. More than 75 percent of Thomas’s receptions result in a first down for the Ducks, which makes it easy for head coach Chip Kelly when deciding who to design plays for in key situations.
Thomas, more than anyone else on the squad, plays the biggest role on this Duck team even though he doesn't get the ball the majority of the time. Mariota is still a developing freshman who will lead the team in his next couple years and Barner doesn't put up the per rush numbers that Thomas does.
The Oregon offense often operates like a well-oiled machine. But without Thomas the 2012 Ducks would not likely be a legitimate title contender.