Darron Thomas

Thunder open season with loss

Portland gives its fans a reason to cheer - for a while
March 17, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

PORTLAND - The Portland Thunder opened their first season in the Arena Football League with a stellar performance - on its first drive. Quarterback Darron Thomas ran 2 yards for a touchdown to cap a 10-play drive and spark a mad celebration from the crowd of 8,509 fans at the Moda Center.

From there, though, the San Jose Sabercats dominated the game and won 64-34 in the season opener for both teams.

San Jose showed off its experience by scoring three times on its first four plays and then held the hosts to just seven points in the second half. Sixth-year quarterback Russ Michna threw five touchdown passes before making way for back-up Nathan Stanley, who threw three scoring passes.

Thomas, who starred for two seasons at Oregon, completed 11 of 17 passes for 73 yards in his first professional game. Nathan Enderle, a rookie from the University of Idaho, completed 10 of 19 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s frustrating to lose, without a doubt,” Thunder coach Matthew Sauk, also in his first head as head coach, told media afterward. “But I’m proud of my guys; none of them quit. We’re learning on the fly – I’ve had several players and coaches come up to me and tell me, ‘You have a great group of guys; keep them together. I think that we have the talent to do it, it’s just going to take the reps to get there.”

Receiver Duane Brooks, a second-year player from Stephen F. Austin University, caught a pair of touchdown passes and became a fan favorite as the kick returner. After getting stopped at the four on the team's opening kickoff return, Brooks narrowly missed a touchdown return and finished with 215 yards on 10 kickoffs.

Portland plays host to the Iowa Barnstormers, who lost their opener to Spokane 64-35, Monday at 7 p.m.



This Better Work

Sun, 08/29/2010 - 5:42pm
Carlos Molina
Carlos Molina's picture
Last seen: 8 years 20 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-08-13

Chip Kelly’s decision to go with Darron Thomas over Nate Costa at quarterback makes sense coming from a man known as a risk taker, but there may be one off-the-field risk he didn’t take into account when choosing his starter.  Costa, a 5th year senior who has fought back from injury over and over again, has more experience in the sense that he’s more familiar with the playbook, and was supposed to be the starter 2 years ago before hurting his knee.  This in turn has earned familiarity and respect from his peers in the locker room.  How much backlash could be coming from the upper classmen on the team over this decision to go with the inexperienced sophomore instead of Costa?

The Ducks Quarterback Controversy 2010 has been billed as experience vs. potential.  If you want veteran leadership and in-depth knowledge of the playbook, you want Costa.  If you want high-risk, high reward, big play potential, you want Thomas.  Just think back to the big 4th quarter explosion against Boise State two years ago, when Thomas went for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns in the period while almost rallying the Ducks back from a 19 point deficit.  After it all played out and the announcement was made on Friday, I’m not sure it was that simple.

Chip Kelly has a “win-now” mentality.  He realizes he has a very talented, experienced team (17 returning starters) that’s favored to win the Pac-10 this year.  The potential future benefits of giving Thomas the reins speak for themselves.  He could a 3 year starter, in the same mold of player as Dennis Dixon.  Since Kelly only cares about the now, not the later, this means Thomas most likely won outright in the competition against Costa.  He’s not in there for his potential.  He’s in there because right now, he’s the better quarterback. 

This drastically helps his case against any possible backlash.  Even though an older player will have paid his dues, if the younger player is simply better, then he should be the one taking the field.  Hopefully, most of the upperclassmen will realize this, despite any loyalty they may feel towards Costa. 

The real problems will come to a head should Thomas flounder in any of the early games.  The Ducks’ non-conference schedule could very well have them at 3-0 going into Pac-10 play.  First up will be New Mexico, a seemingly simple Mountain West opponent that only won one game last year.  Then the Ducks have to travel to Tennessee to take on the Volunteers in a very winnable matchup against an average SEC team.  Then they wrap up the non-conference schedule back home against the lowly Portland State Vikings, a Big Sky team whose biggest news this offseason was that they were going back to their familiar green jerseys.

The Lobos and Vikings games should be cakewalks for Thomas and the Ducks.  Any struggles he shows there should be red flags, and the concerned upperclassmen will have their concerns validated.  Mark the Tennessee game as the first genuine litmus test of the Darren Thomas decision.  An inexperienced, young, underclassman quarterback making his second career start on the road in the SEC will face a very uncomfortable situation at Neyland Stadium.  If he’s successful, this will be a good sign for the Ducks.  This year’s Vols team is of about the same quality as most other Pac-10 teams.  If he struggles, expect to hear cries to bring on the Senior.  Hopefully, for Thomas’, Kelly’s, and the Ducks’ sake, Thomas will not struggle early on, because locker room dissonance can only hurt the situation, especially during an in-season quarterback controversy. 

Expectations are for a lot of "yes" men in Eugene

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 9:15pm
Carlos Molina
Carlos Molina's picture
Last seen: 8 years 20 weeks ago
Joined: 2010-08-13

Expectations are low for the Oregon football team.  After an offseason marred by numerous appearances on the police blotter, and a quarterback controversy with no real favorite, this team will be hard pressed to re-create last season’s success.


Expectations are high for the reigning Pac-10 champs.  The 11th ranked team in the country returns 17 starters, including star running back LaMichael James, who set the conference rushing record for freshman with 1,546 yards last season.

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