The Oregon Ducks continue their perfect run this season thanks to a phenomenal offensive attack that is built on the No. 2 rushing attack in the country. They have been gashing opposing defenses regularly, averaging 332.43 yards per game on the ground as part of 643.1 total yards of offense per game (also No. 2 in the country). Most impressive perhaps is the fact that they’ve been so successful on the ground without their No. 1 running back, De’Anthony Thomas thanks to the phenomenal job Byron Marshall has done filling in.
Since Thomas was injured on the opening kickoff against the Cal Bears almost a month ago, Marshall has moved into the role as primary back for the Oregon offense and thrived. He’s run for more than 100 yards in each game, starting with a career-high 130 yards against Cal and capped by a new career-high 192 yards against the Washington State Cougars last Saturday. He leads the team in rushing this season with 746 yards on 111 carries this season with nine rushing touchdowns.
Marshall emerging as a go-to No. 1 back has forced a bit of a change in philosophy while Thomas remains sidelined with an ankle injury. At the beginning of the season, Mark Helfrich was rotating his backs out quite a bit, not having any one of them handle a serious load in the running game. Marshall has stepped up as the primary back and is taking on the lion’s share of the carries for this offense now in a way that some people questioned if he was capable of with true freshman Thomas Tyner providing a nice spark as a change-of-pace back.
There’s no denying the ability and talent of De’Anthony Thomas and the Oregon offense will only get better when he returns to the lineup. But until that happens, the running game is in good hands with the outstanding play of Byron Marshall.