Chip Kelly might as well have been telling the entire nation to shut up after this game.
Down went Darron Thomas, and Oregon Ducks fans held their breath. It was 2007 all over again. They'd already lost their star tailback LaMichael James for weeks, and now their starting quarterback looked like he would also be on his way out. Oregon would now have to rely on their backup quarterback Bryan Bennett, who couldn't be trusted to throw anything beyond a few quick stick routes. It looked as if the Arizona St. Sun Devils could be on their way to a huge upset in Autzen.
But this wasn't 2007. The offense didn't fold. It exploded.
Oregon went completely one-dimensional, and they looked pretty much unstoppable going that unlikely route. The Ducks committed to the run, and all of a sudden the Sun Devils were unable to stop anyone out of the backfield. Bennett couldn't really pass that much, but his natural rushing ability gave ASU something to think about. The Sun Devils didn't have any tape on the Ducks backup QB, and Bennett surprised the Devils with his ability to run on the outside.
ASU seemed to wear down at the end. The Oregon offensive line stepped it up a notch and started sealing on the inside runs. Kenjon Barner was unbelievably efficient as the main ball-carrier, and De'Anthony Thomas came in to fill Barner's role and showcased why he could potentially be the best offensive player in the conference in the coming years.
Last night proved that it's not James's team. It's not Thomas's team. It's Chip Kelly who makes it all go.
Chip must've been tired of all the questions about whether Oregon could recover from the loss of LaMichael this week, insulted at the notion that Oregon couldn't still produce. He was probably wondering, who do you think runs this show? Tonight he proved Oregon might not be the same team, but they can function just fine without him--and is it turns out, they can even make do without their signal-caller.
The Ducks aren't the thin team they were years ago. They can rebound from frontline injuries and still produce at a high level, tearing apart perhaps the best and most opportunistic defense in the conference. They have the depth to keep going even when their top men go down.
The up-tempo spread attack keeps on churning out points, and Oregon looks like they can still put it up if Da. Thomas and James have to sit it out awhile. Bennett, Barner and De. Thomas have shown they can keep on producing capably, although you figure as the games go along the gametape will allow defenses to go against them. But they won't really find much. James might be special, but Barner/Thomas is plenty effective as a combo tandem, and Bennett proved (at least for now) that he can move things along.
Kelly's offense seems to get the most out of its players regardless of experience, and that has to be an attraction for any of the major offensive recruits out there. Kelly has proven that the offense he runs can attract some of the big-time offensive talent (the Black Mamba); add in the quarterbacks who can run it (like Thomas and Bennett) and you have a system that can be effective for anyone talented enough to run it, even if the players are raw.
Get into the lineup, get going, get moving, get winning. That's how Chip rolls. That's how Chip wins. And that's why Chip and Oregon aren't going anywhere, even if their stars go down--his system can make anyone significantly talented a star.
Chip Kelly's offense is still undefeated in the Pac-12, and their winning streak stretches through three seasons. And everyone in the conference can shut up until they can prove they can shut them down.