With Kenjon Barner off to the NFL, can Oregon’s 2013 Oregon running backs rival 2012, when Kenjon Barner, De’Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall rushed for a combined 2,915 yards and 36 touchdowns? Let’s take a look at what we saw at the spring game, with an eye to opening day.
Byron Marshall was solid, rushing for 60 yards on six carries, scoring the first touchdown of the game on a two yard run. Last season the sophomore, who many expect to be the feature back next season, rushed for 447 yards on 87 carries (5.1 avg.) and 4 touchdowns in a limited role behind Barner and Thomas. With exceptional vision and patience waiting for blocks, Marshall looks ready to take the reins. He finishes hard, pounding tacklers with his physical 5’10” 201 pound frame, fighting for extra yards on every carry.
De’Anthony Thomas suited up but didn’t play. The question remains: how he will be utilized this year? I still believe De’Anthony is most effective in the slot and short passing game over carries between the tackles (although there was that 91-yard burst up the middle against Wisconsin…). Thomas may or may not be up for 20-25 carries in the trenches, but expect the “Black Mamba” to be even more explosive than last year.
Thomas Tyner was in street clothes on the sidelines at the spring game. Fans shouted “Thomas, Thomas,” anticipating the 5-star prospect from Aloha High School in a Duck uniform. How will he be utilized in his freshman campaign? Can he overtake Marshall for the lead role? Should we expect a package of Thomas in the slot with Marshall and Tyner in the backfield? Stay tuned and be glad you’re not a defensive coordinator!