When you think of the running game for the Oregon Ducks in 2013, most people immediately think of De’Anthony Thomas. That’s understandable since DAT is a phenomenal talent and the college football world is anxiously waiting to see what he can do as the featured back after wowing us the last two seasons in a limited role. But for the Ducks’ running game to continue its high-flying ways next season, it will be Byron Marshall that gets them there.
That’s because Thomas and incoming freshman Thomas Tyner, who figures to be the No. 3 running back in 2013, are home-run hitters. Every time they get their hands on the ball, they have the ability to take it to the house and change the landscape of a game. But that big-swinging mentality can also lead to negative plays. If a guy is trying to go 80-yards every carry, sometimes he’ll pass up the opportunity to lower his head and get those tough runs that only get a handful of yards.
That is where Marshall can step up in a major way. He was a solid back during his freshman season, rushing 87 times for 447 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, and finding the endzone four times. At 5-foot-10, 201-pounds, he is a bigger back than Thomas and Tyner and better equipped to grind out yardage and keep the offense moving down the field. Having that interior runner is always critical to the success of the Oregon offense and DAT hasn’t shown he can handle consistent carries between the tackles.
Marshall won’t make as many highlight reels as Thomas, but his contribution to the offense will be vital to keeping defenses honest and opening up the opportunity to hit those big plays that make DAT and Marcus Mariota candidates for the Heisman Trophy.