IZR Debate: LaMichael or Kenjon?

After Kenjon Barner had his legendary Heisman worthy performance against Southern Cal, plenty of discussion has been going on as to who they’d rather have carrying the ball for the Ducks: LaMichael James, or Kenjon Barner.

LaMichael should be regarded as the best player in Oregon football history. The 5’9″ running-back (that’s being generous) ushered in a new age of Oregon football. James should forever be considered as the ultimate Chip Kelly Running Back, as his agility, speed, and vision were so refined that he could regularly turn three-on-one situations into touchdowns.

Kenjon Barner is more of the renaissance runner, as his effortless cuts into the zone blocking scheme seem almost too easy. His vision is almost more refined than LaMichael’s, as his experience in the system is unlike any other back under Chip Kelly (trust me, a lot has improved since Bellotti was in town). Barner will be immortalized after his performance in Los Angeles, and that game could be looked at as the template for future running backs, as opposed to LaMichael’s best performances.

So who would you take? LaMichael James, or Kenjon Barner?

Print Friendly
Josh Schlichter

Josh Schlichter

Josh is a College Football enthusiast from sunny Southern California. He has written for several self-operated prep sports blogs, as well as multiple SB Nation sites. In High School, Josh played football for four years, and helped create and operate the team's no-huddle system. Most of Josh's football knowledge branches from watching College Football his entire life, and is backed up by his first hand experience in both option and spread offenses. Above all, though, he is a proud student at the University of Oregon. @joshschlichter

  • hokieduck

    LMJ, all the way. While Kenjon has made massive strides since “the talk” with Gary Campbell, LMJ simply had a quality of what I call “ghosting”. He was (talking just his Oregon years… his pro days will come) the quickest decision maker I have ever seen and he always went North/South. On returns, from scrimmage, there was no hunting and pecking and flairing out wide to find a lane. He would almost hop sideways and disappear into the massive bodies in the trenches then “ghost” out of the pack accelerating. And that acceleration is better generally than KB’s, as well as his breakaway speed. That small package never shied away from lowering his head and delivering a blow to a cornerback trying to stop him either… even when he could have taken a step and been OOB. Perhaps that wasn’t the smartest thing to choose to do, but dang it was impressive.

    Kenjon is a bigger back and he is learning to take on the tacklers (loving his knee drive now). His improvement since Campbell challenged him has also been rather unworldly. He has the more prototypical body being a bit bigger than LMJ and because of that, he may have more NFL years in him.

    What an uncommon joy it has been and is to watch this team. I have loved college football for a long time, having grown up in the South. This team is the most fun to watch of any I have ever seen. I know that Chip will leave us to take on the NFL challenge. I hope not right away, but I suspect it will be sooner rather than later. I dread that day, but until then, I am going to take to heart his mantra and Love The Day watching (in Charles’s words) my beloved Ducks.

    • I agree. Kenjon is a perfect back for this particular year, but LMJ’s skill and productivity are unparalleled. I am still a firm believer in Harbaugh’s coaching ability in San Fran, and I think Jim knows just how good LaMichael is… too bad the 9’ers are absolutely stacked with running backs…his time will come. Similarly, I can’t wait to see how KB turns out in the NFL (I think he’s the best back in college football this year)