Friday, September 4, 2009

Legarrette Blount Kill Out Opponent




Legarrette Blount Kill Out Opponent on Hot Topics -- Thursday's season-opening loss at Boise State was the worst possible scenario for Oregon in every way: The vaunted Duck offense was lethargic, ineffective, impotent and any other synonym you can imagine for "really bad," held to a meager eight points and 150 total yards in a deflating loss that could send the entire season careening off the tracks. And no Duck was more disappointing in the loss than LeGarrette Blount: The senior running back, last seen hurtling over and through Oklahoma State defenders in a breakout Holiday Bowl performance last December, finished with –5 yards on eight carries and was dropped in the end zone for a safety in the second quarter.

The Oregon head coach may not be much of a metalhead, but he knows what the song means when New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera exits the bullpen — the game is almost certainly going to be iced.

Kelly joked with senior running back LeGarrette Blount that the 6-foot-2, 240-pound bowling ball that he's the Ducks' version of Rivera, and it's for good reason as Blount had a school-record 17 touchdown runs last season.

"When he starts to really get rolling, he becomes a very dangerous guy," Kelly said. "He seems to fly when you get into the fourth quarter. He's one of those guys that has the innate ability to get stronger as the game goes on."

Blount scored the winning touchdown from 3 yards out with 6 seconds to play last Nov. 8 in a 35-28 win over Stanford, another 3-yarder to win it in double overtime Sept. 13 at Purdue, plus added touchdowns that gave Oregon a two-score advantage in the fourth quarter in three others.

He scored Oregon's first touchdown in last season's 37-32 loss to Boise State in Eugene, and he certainly has the Broncos' attention heading into Thursday's opener.

"LeGarrette is a special back," Boise State head coach Chris Petersen said. "You watch him run through there and guys are just bouncing off him."

Blount ran for 1,002 yards last season as a tough complement to the shifty Jeremiah Johnson, who led with 1,201 yards. With Johnson now with the Houston Texans, Blount is set to become the Ducks' feature back.

"It didn't change things as much as I thought they would," he said. "We've got some guys who can pick up the slack, plus we've got (quarterback) Jeremiah Masoli."

Perhaps what makes Blount stand out as a combination of speed, size and agility can be found with a simple YouTube search. There's his touchdown against Boise State where he hurdled over defensive end Mike T. Williams at the line of scrimmage and made two Broncos miss tackles after he landed.

There's Blount hurdling an Oklahoma State tackler on his way to a 29-yard touchdown with 3 minutes left to seal the Holiday Bowl.

"He really kind of surprises you with how nifty and nimble he is on his feet," Kelly said.

Boise State's rush defense gave up more than 144 yards only twice last season, but not many backs are like Blount. Still, the Broncos' recipe for success against the powerful runner is pretty simple.

"We need to have multiple guys running to the ball — first man wrap up, second man bring the wood," cornerback Kyle Wilson said. "Tackle in bunches and wrap him up."

It's hard to imagine Blount as anything but a strong, solid back — he said he's been clocked running the 40-yard dash in 4.5 seconds — but he wasn't born that way.

Blount, a Florida native, realized if he wanted to become a successful college back, he'd have to hit the weight room. Boy, did he ever. After failing to qualify at Auburn, he ran for nearly 2,300 yards at East Mississippi Community College, then opted for Oregon over Florida State.

"When I was growing up, I was always just this tall, skinny kid," Blount said. "I just starting working out really hard, lifting and still trying to maintain my speed. I felt every year I had to grow with my competition ... I had to work really hard to get to this size, otherwise I'd probably be a skinny receiver."

His build and his abilities have led some to think of him as an athletic freak. Ask Blount, and there might be a better word.

The hero of the fracas: Oregon assistant and former Nebraska star Scott Frost, the quick-reacting blonde dude who saved a Bronco fan from the fate of Byron Hout on the field. General rule of thumb: When your night ends with you being restrained by an ad hoc coalition of authority figures and security guards, you have had a very, very bad night. As a Duck, at least, Blount may not have many left.