The Ducks may have an additional punch coming out of the backfield when they take on Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Thomas Tyner has been practicing and he recently told the Portland Tribune that he expects to play in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.
This will be a huge boost for Oregon’s offense. The Ducks were 14th in the rushing yards this season. They’ve been a top ten rushing team since 2007 and led the nation in 2011. A lot of the “decline” in Oregon’s rushing attack directly correlates to the development of Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota’s success as a passer, but this was also the first time since 2007 that Oregon didn’t have a vicious one-two punch at the running back position.
Tyner came into the season as Oregon’s featured back. With Byron Marshall moving to wide receiver, it was Tyner who was expected to take on much of the load after rushing for 711 yards, and nine touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry in a successful freshman campaign. But Tyner has battled nagging injuries all season (He hasn’t played since the Utah game.) and in his absence Royce Freeman established himself as one of the most lethal rushing threats in the country.
The return of Tyner brings an element to Oregon’s offense that Florida State will have to game plan for. The Ducks could use some new/different packages that they haven’t shown in Tyner’s absence, and the Seminoles won’t be able to focus solely on Freeman. Oregon’s already dynamic offense just regained a key element.
Top Photo By Craig Strobeck