Freshman quarterback Bryan Bennett performed well in his first collegiate… (Jack Dempsey / Associated…)
Oregon is without its starting quarterback and tailback — and it doesn't seem to matter much.
Against Colorado, freshman quarterback Bryan Bennett threw for a pair of touchdowns while stepping in for Darron Thomas, who sat out because of an injured knee.
Junior Kenjon Barner rushed for a pair of touchdowns in place of LaMichael James, who missed his second game because of an elbow injury.
That left Colorado Coach Jon Embree with his mouth agape following his team's 45-2 loss to the Ducks.
"Here they are playing without their starting quarterback, their starting tailback, and they were tremendous," Embree said Tuesday during the weekly Pacific 12 Conference football coaches' conference call. "It didn't look like they missed a beat."
It's questionable whether either player will return Saturday against Washington State. If they don't, it might not matter considering Oregon's scheme and overall speed.
"Our players were just like, 'Wow,' just seeing those guys and their ability to run," Embree said.
Bennett, a former Encino Crespi High star, rushed for 69 yards in six carries against Colorado, pioneering a running attack that piled up 371 yards.
"I thought Bryan did a decent job playing within our offense, not forcing the issue," Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said. "He's getting better."
Rookie of the year
Sean Mannion is one of only a few freshmen who are starting quarterbacks for teams from Bowl Championship Series conferences.
Oregon State Coach Mike Riley didn't plan it that way, but after watching Mannion perform in spring practice and fall camp, he became convinced.
Mannion was electric in the Beavers' 44-21 win against Washington State, passing for 376 yards and four touchdowns, both career highs.
"He's grown weekly, and almost daily," Riley said.
Mannion is on pace to pass for 3,367 yards, which would be a school record for a freshman and the third-highest season total in school history.
Washington State, losers of three of four, could use a win — if only to calm restless Cougars fans after the 23-point trouncing by Oregon State.
On Tuesday, a column in the Washington State student newspaper called for Coach Paul Wulff to be fired.
The student journalists in Pullman weren't the only ones up in arms.
Also Tuesday, the University of Washington student newspaper called for the dismissal of Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt.
"Fire Holt," the column began two days after the Huskies were stomped, 65-21, by Stanford.
Utah and Colorado are both new to the Pac-12 and off to 0-4 starts in league play.
Utah is averaging only 13 points in those games, and Colorado has given up 500 or more yards in three consecutive games for the first time since 1983.