(PHOTO) Josh Huff (4) runs to the endzone on an 85-yard rush during Oregon's 48-29 win over Arizona on Friday at Autzen Stadium. (Photo by Chris Wilson).
Every week, it seems as if true freshman wide receiver Josh Huff comes through with a critical, game-breaking play. Whether he’s lining up at wide receiver, running back, or returning kickoffs, Huff is lightning in a bottle just waiting to be uncorked.
Against No. 20 Arizona at Autzen Stadium Friday evening, Huff worked his breathtaking magic once again; accounting for 186 all-purpose yards -- 103 of which came off of 3 carries, including an 85-yard touchdown that sparked an Oregon onslaught in the second half that ended with a 48-29 Duck victory.
“There are no limitations on that guy,” said Oregon sophomore cornerback Cliff Harris about Huff after the game. “He can be as good as he want to be in all aspects of his game. He’s got a good skill level. The only weakness I can think of is that he’s young right now.”
Yet, the Houston, Tex. native’s youth and puerility has failed to betray him or his team to this point. Huff’s tremendous speed, athleticism, and football IQ make him one of the Ducks’ most valuable offensive weapons as they continue their quest to Glendale and a hopeful berth in the BCS National Championship.
“Josh is special and he just keeps getting better and better,” remarked Oregon head coach Kelly following the win and his team moving 11-0 on the season.
“We’re finding new ways to try to get him the football and get him involved in the game. That was one heck of a run and I think that’s what we talked about (at halftime). That first five minutes of the second half is critical, and to force three and out and come back and score like that was really the shot in the arm we needed.”
The Ducks trailed 19-14 at halftime, looking rather lackluster on offense, while the defense bent but didn’t break as Arizona junior quarterback Nick Foles shredded the Oregon defense for 231 of his 448 passing yards for the game. Inside the locker room, Huff said the receivers talked about needing to make critical adjustments to help get the offense back on track.
“We knew we had to make adjustments and make plays from the receiver spot,” said Huff. “We had to change the game and get the (offensive) line and the fans back in to it.”
Huff delivered on his team’s wishes with the 85-yard scoring play that Kelly alluded to; giving the Ducks their longest touchdown from scrimmage this season. The play itself seemed to open up perfectly for Huff upon receiving a late option pitch from sophomore quarterback, Darron Thomas.
“It was a read option play,” said Huff. “We read the end and D.T. pitched it off.”
“I knew when I got the ball (on that play) that I was gonna make a potentially big impact that could change the game. Between the great line (blocking) and the blocking downfield of D.J. (Davis), I just cut off of him and beat their safety and it was pretty easy from there.”
Davis, who had arguably his greatest all-around game as both a receiver and a devastating downfield blocker in his final appearance at Autzen, gave plenty of kudos to the young freshman -- praising his remarkable Swiss Army knife-like utility and explosiveness.
“He’s just a very versatile athlete,” stated Davis. “He can do a lot of different things. You can put him back at running back taking pitches...he’s filled in real well for L.T. this game and he’s done a lot of good things.”
With L.T., Lavasier Tuinei being sidelined for the foreseeable future with a shoulder injury, the onus has been on Huff to accept an even greater role as an all-around playmaker within the vaunted Oregon offense. Though a handful of drops against the Wildcats curtailed what could have been a truly spectacular performance for Huff, the precocious newcomer says he won’t allow himself to succumb to pressure of his expanded duty.
“I’m really not trying to focus on that,” quipped Huff when asked if he realized he would have to play a larger role in Tuinei’s absence. “I’m just trying to do what works and maintain the focus that I normally have.”
A trip to Corvallis and a date with the Oregon State Beavers is the only thing that separates the Ducks from their first appearance in the BCS National Championship in school history. A win in the Civil War would undoubtedly elevate the program and this team to heights never before imagined from even the most tried and true Duck fan. With such enormous pressure stalking this team, Huff is sticking to the company line of “Win The Day”, doing his best to avoid visions of grandeur.
“It’s just another game,” said Huff of the impending game against the Beavers.
“It’s about time and preparation for the next week and the next opponent.”
Follow Chris Courtney on Twitter at eDuckCCourtney