Oregon running back LaMichael James said the dislocated elbow -- X-rays were negative on any breaks -- that he suffered in the Ducks' impressive 43-15 win over California won't end his season, but it's fair to say he's highly doubtful for the Oct. 15 game with Arizona State.
Replays of the injury on ESPN were hard to watch, but James told reporters after the game that he immediately popped his elbow back into place. He hurt it early in the fourth quarter, at which point he had already accumulated 239 yards rushing. He produced a 53-yard touchdown run as well as runs of 47 and 30 yards.
James now has 30 rushes of 30 yards or longer in his career, the most by any FBS player since the start of the 2004 season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. A 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist and the nation's leading rusher, he moved into fifth place on the conference's career rushing list with 4,129 yards.
The apparent red-letter date on the Ducks' schedule is the Nov. 12 visit to Stanford, which could be a battle for the Pac-12 North Division between a pair of top-10 teams. After the Arizona State game, the Ducks play at Colorado on Oct. 22, Washington State on Oct. 29 and are at Washington on Nov. 5.
Kenjon Barner is James' capable backup. He rushed for 88 yards on just 10 carries with a touchdown against Cal. Barner got hurt in the opener against LSU and missed two games. He's rushed for 167 yards and three scores this season.
The Ducks are getting a dual threat from true freshman De'Anthony Thomas. He rushed for a 17-yard touchdown and caught six passes for 114 yards and two scores.
James' injury also could mean more carries for 227-pound true freshman Tra Carson. He's rushed for 116 yards on 18 carries this year.
Oregon has options at running back. Losing James doesn't cripple its high-powered offense.
But James, the 2010 Doak Walker Award winner, is the nation's best running back. Entering Thursday's game, among all FBS players, James has the most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, 20-plus yard rushes, 50-plus yard rushes and 100-yard rush games.
That's not something you can easily replace.