Masoli’s knee scare familiar for Duck fans |

Masoli’s knee scare familiar for Duck fans

AP Sports Writer

The reports of Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s demise were (apparently) greatly exaggerated.

Masoli hurt his right knee back in the first half of the Ducks’ 52-6 victory over Washington State on Oct. 3. At the time, he said it wasn’t serious – he even jogged off the field following the game.

But then he didn’t practice. And when he finally did it was in shells, not full pads. Backup Nate Costa took over as the first-team quarterback in drills.

Masoli sat – and Costa started – in Oregon’s 24-10 victory at UCLA.

The next week Oregon had a bye, and Masoli started off in shells again. Oregon coach Chip Kelly fueled gloomy speculation by adhering to his policy of listing injured players as either “out” or “day-to-day.” Masoli was day-to-day.

The whole drama – and Oregon seems to have had a lot of drama this season – was put to rest when Masoli ran for two scores and passed for another in Oregon’s 43-19 victory at Washington.

In Oregon’s 47-20 victory over USC on Halloween, Masoli passed for 222 yards and a touchdown and ran for 164 yards and another score.

Kelly joked this week about the rampant speculation surrounding Masoli’s knee, and even his own injury policy.

“I may put him up for comeback player of the year after reading all the newspaper accounts about him being done for the year,” Kelly said with mock indignation. “It’s probably a credit to our training staff that they could get him back from such a catastrophic injury.”

“And it’s amazing that he actually was day-to-day.”

You almost have to forgive Ducks watchers for the skepticism.

Back in 2007, Oregon went through something eerily similar. The Ducks were rolling after a 24-17 victory over USC and a 35-23 win over Arizona State, rising to No. 2 in the AP Poll and vying for a shot at the national championship.

At quarterback was Dennis Dixon, a scrambler who flourished under then-offensive coordinator Kelly’s spread-option offense. Dixon was generating Heisman hype.

But with three games left, Dixon’s knee buckled in a 34-24 loss at Arizona. Oregon went on to lose to UCLA and Oregon State to finish the regular season, and the Ducks settled for the Sun Bowl against South Florida.

As it turned out, Dixon had torn the ACL two weeks earlier against the Sun Devils. Oregon coach Mike Bellotti (now the athletic director) was criticized for playing down the injury and allowing Dixon to continue playing.

In Bellotti’s defense, Dixon asked him to keep the injury quiet, even from his Oregon teammates.

Dixon went on to be drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He watched from the sidelines this past Saturday when Oregon beat USC.

The seventh-ranked Ducks (7-1, 5-0) visit Stanford (5-3, 4-2) this weekend.

RILEY’S BEARD: After California’s 30-3 loss to USC, Golden Bears quarterback Kevin Riley decided he would forgo shaving until the Bears lost again.

So far, he’s got a pretty good beard going. Cal defeated UCLA 45-26, then beat Arizona State 23-21 at Sun Devil Stadium this past weekend.

The Golden Bears (6-2, 3-2) host Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) on Saturday.

The Beavers are pretty hairy, too, with “No Shave November” in full swing. Many of the players, as well as assistants Danny Langsdorf and Jay Locey, are taking part.

LOCKER’S LEG: As the week goes on, it’s looking more likely that Washington’s Jake Locker will play Saturday when the Huskies visit UCLA.

Locker’s right thigh was badly bruised in the first quarter of Washington’s 43-19 loss to Oregon on Oct. 24, when he was hit by Javes Lewis.

Last week Locker watched as the Huskies practiced during their bye week. He returned this week, but was still being treated gingerly.

“I thought it was a charley horse type of deal and they usually go away after 10 minutes or so,” Locker said. “This one just kind of hung around for a little bit.”

Coach Steve Sarkisian, speaking on his Seattle radio show Tuesday night, said he is optimistic Locker will be able to play the Bruins. He also said the league’s premier quarterback has rehab sessions on the thigh three times a day.

Locker leads the Pac-10 in total offense with an average of 271 yards a game and ranks second with 12 touchdown passes.

If Locker can’t go, the Huskies would turn to sophomore Ronnie Fouch, who started the final eight games last season after Locker went down with a broken right thumb.

BLUE REFS: The Pac-10’s referees will wear blue sleeve covers during the league’s five games this weekend to raise awareness of prostate cancer.

The campaign is being held in partnership with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

HONORS: Oregon redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James, Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed and Oregon State kicker Justin Kahut were honored as the league’s players of the week.

James had 24 carries for 183 yards and a touchdown in the Ducks’ 47-20 victory Saturday against then-No. 4 USC. His yards were a freshman record for the Ducks.

Mohamed had a game-high 12 tackles, 11 solo, in Cal’s 23-21 victory at Arizona State, while Kahut hit four of five field goal attempts in the Beavers’ 26-19 win over UCLA.