1953 - 55 Ducks
(Authentic Reproduction)




The September 19th opener against Nebraska was important as the 20-12 victory was the inaugural television broadcast of the College Football Game Of The Week and it was seen nationally. Coach Cas dressed the team up for the occasion, switching the previously used kelly green shell for one of Green Bay gold and adding a one-inch kelly green center stripe. Improvement also came to the season’s record, moving it up to 4-5-1. This result could be laid at the feet of the PCC's second-ranked defense that gave up but 8.5 points per game. George Shaw for many was a true two-way All American prospect and perhaps the best DB on the coast. Going both ways at QB and HB on offense did not diminish his ball-hawking or tackling ability and he showed his versatility by punting, kicking, and occasionally moving to flanker. He caught the key TD pass in an upset win over USC. The emergence of HB Dick James who also excelled on both sides of the line of scrimmage, gave the Ducks a potent weapon and with Jack Patera at guard next to Ron Phiester, and DE Emery Barnes who later joined the Packers, the line was considered one of the conference's better ones. Finishing the 1954 season at 6-4, the Ducks posted their first winning record since the 1948 bowl season and swept the other Northwest teams in the conference. The UO squad leaned heavily on All American Shaw whose 1536 total yards led the nation, and he set a UO record with 1358 passing yards. Shaw.became the NFL's number-one draft choice, spending four years with the Colts until his starting position was usurped by Johnny Unitas and then moved to the Giants where Y.A. Tittle took his spot. He completed an eight-year pro career with the expansion Vikings and the AFL Broncos but it was his collegiate career that became his legacy where he was an All American in both football and baseball. Noted as Oregon’s most versatile player, he was the Webfoots’ QB, HB, flanker, safety, place kicker, kickoff man, punter, and punt returner! Patera was an All PCC pick at guard, also going to the Colts with Shaw where Weeb Ewbank converted him into an active LB. After three seasons with Baltimore and two with the Cardinals, Patera became the starting MLB for the expansion Dallas Cowboys but an injury brought Jerry Tubbs into his slot and he could not get back to full speed in '61. Turning to coaching, he developed the Fearsome Foursome of the Rams and the Purple People Eaters of the Vikings before becoming the head coach of the new Seattle Seahawks where he ran the tightest of ships from their inception in 1976 until the midst of the strike shortened season of '82 where his relationship with his players fell apart over the strike. Patera retired from coaching, but is still known as a member of Oregon's Hall Of Fame and as former Olympic weightlifter and pro wrestler Ken Patera's older brother. Phiester again was a stand-out at center. Dick James, like Shaw, was a two-way threat, scoring sixty-six points for the season.     


The Ducks slow start in ’55 was balanced by a fine finish, winning five of the final six games to complete their second consecutive 6-4 slate. With QB Shaw gone to the Baltimore Colts. Tom Crabtree took the reins and did well, utilizing All Conference soph HB Jim Shanley and short and strong HB James to pound the ball. The ground game put up a huge 2527 rushing yards with Shanley getting 711 of those and James another 596. James went to the Redskins in '56 and his pro career peaked in 1961 when he scored four TD's against the Cowboys for a Redskins' record. He gained a measure of notoriety when he was traded to the Giants in '64 as part of the infamous Sam Huff deal that brought the great LB to the 'Skins. James played another season with the Vikings and as a player-coach for a number of minor league football teams before retiring.

If interested in any of these Oregon helmets please click on the photos below.