De’Anthony Thomas took the opening kickoff to what looked like could be a promising start. He tried to make a quick cut on the wet surface and rolled his right ankle, before being blasted by a Cal defender. Just like that, De’Anthony’s night was done and from then on, it was a “next man up” mentality.
Second-string running back Byron Marshall had struggled the last two games rushing a combined 72 yards and was in desperate need of a confidence boost. Saturday was just what he needed, as he rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Freshman phenom Thomas Tyner made the most of his first career game of double-digit carries (13) rushing for 94 yards and a touchdown.
While Marshall and Tyner made up for De’Anthony’s injury on the ground, Bralon Addison did equally in the department of excitement. Addison had 2 punt returns for touchdowns, with one reminiscent of Thomas’ last year against Colorado in which he made the Buffs’ defense look silly with his great speed and field vision.
De’Anthony Thomas is undoubtedly the Ducks’ most versatile and biggest game changer. With his injury Saturday, players were forced into situations they were not accustomed to – and shined. Down the road, if De’Anthony is to get hurt again — or even if he doesn’t – Helfrich will know these guys can get the job done.