Don’t Count Thomas Tyner out of the Starting RB Job Just Yet


Remember Thomas Tyner? You know, the 4-star recruit who was the 6th-best RB in his entire class. Maybe you know him as the freshman who ran for more 700 yards in 2013, averaging 6.2 yards per carry and scoring 9 TDs. He was supposed to be the next great Duck RB, and man, was he on pace to be.

And then, just like that, it was over. Tyner had a slow start to last season, unable to break the 100yard mark in any of his first six games. In his seventh, the game against UW, Tyner injured his shoulder, officially handing the rushing duties to Royce Freeman for good.

Thomas Tyner exploded in the Rose Bowl, and now he's asked to find that ability again.

John Sperry

Thomas Tyner exploded in the Rose Bowl, and now he’s been asked to find that ability again.

Later in the season, when the shoulder was on the mend, Tyner came back and showed he still had the ability to be the RB that Oregon believed they had recruited. This was most clear in the Rose Bowl when Tyner rushed for 124 yards and 2 TDs on only 13 carries. It was a flash of brilliance, but many believed that’s all it was — just a flash.

So now we enter 2015. Not only is Freeman the favorite to win the job, but he’s already being considered as a Heisman favorite. Freeman is great, don’t get me wrong. He could be, arguably, the best Duck RB since Jonathan Stewart (he certainly has a similar running style). But this is exactly what Tyner needed.

Tyner came in to 2014 assuming the job was his, but after the slow start and the untimely injury, he suddenly could be listed as the 3rd-string RB in 2015 behind freshman phenom, Taj Griffin. It’s unlikely, but perhaps all Tyner needed was a little competition. In the FSU game, his first game back in almost two months due to injury, Tyner came out with a fire the coaches hadn’t seen all year.

So, in short, will Tyner win the starting job this spring? It’s doubtful. But if one thing can be said, certainly don’t count the junior RB out. He’s an Oregon RB for a reason.

Top photo from Craig Strobeck

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Caleb Couturie

Caleb Couturie

Caleb is a sophomore at the University of Oregon intending to double major in Journalism and Sports Management. He is the Managing Editor for, along with being a lifetime Saints and San Francisco Giants fan, as Caleb fell in love with sports at a young age and developed that love into a passion for sports analysis. He is looking forward to cheering on the Ducks throughout his career at Oregon, and is always willing to talk sports with any fellow fan.

  • Lynn Murphy

    Caleb- not sure where this is coming from. Who’s counting him out???? It’s spring football and as always the competition is open. I get the impression this article is for nothing more than hits to this site.

    • Matthew Montgomery

      Perhaps, Caleb is a Freshman at the University of Oregon and doesn’t quite have the experience yet to discern the subtleties of journalism? That would be my bet.

      That’s no dig on you, Lynn, but I really think that is the reason why the article reads the way it does (and I had the same thought as what both you and Dentonz wrote).

      I would look at it more as, How will Oregon use Tyner within the depth-laden cast of RB’s that they have? I believe Tyner was more productive in the post season than Freeman (as idahoduck eluded to in a round about way) and Griffin is untested. It would be interesting to see how both could and would be used in an run-game offense that loses one runner, that being Marcus Mariota. Obviously, if all the responsibility falls to RF or TT, the one trick pony routine would most likely fall short somewhere in the season.

      On a different note, is everybody else as jacked as I am to see the spring game? I am not near as worried as I thought I was going to be loosing MM, seeing as Lockie really is a qualified QB. He’ll still run a few, as we have seen in the past – obviously not MM, but perhaps he will be more accurate than MM or make more passes. We shall see. WTD

      • ImBloo

        You guys are being a little harsh. There’s nothing really wrong with his idea.
        Look at it this way – if I were to ask 100 duck fans who they think the starting RB for next season is, who do you think they pick? My guess is a – minimum – of 80% (probably more, but it’s a conservative guess to make a point) would pick Royce Freeman, and rightfully so.
        So, contributing a short article pointing out that “hey, we have another very capable guy that maybe shouldn’t be counted out of that discussion” isn’t wrong. Or, perhaps you two should contribute an article to steer us all down the right road?
        As far as the article itself, we more than likely have a “1a” and “1b” situation. It probably doesn’t matter so much who gets the start, but we should have a pretty awesome set of backs.

        • Matthew Montgomery

          Actually, read my response as though it was in defense of Caleb, as it was intended. It is a good point, I was merely suggesting an alternative theme that would not elicit the harsh responses. Verstehe? :)

          • Caleb

            Hey Guys! So I think my meaning got a little mixed up and I’m here to provide a little clarity. I know Tyner will get his shot, just like any other player will in Spring. All I was saying is that Royce is by far the favorite to win the job, but I was also trying to say that it’s unfair to assume Royce will win it. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that’s the wide consensus (that Royce will win it, I mean). That’s all I meant, I didn’t know this could be taken so harshly. It’s no knock on Tyner, Royce just simply had a much better season last year and therefore is expected to start.

          • Matthew Montgomery

            Caleb, don’t sweat it … you got to think of yourself of the Royce Freeman of the jouralist world.

            I can’t tell who will be the dominate back this year, as your article was pretty spot on as to the ebb and flow of Tyner this past season.

  • Dentonz

    Are you aware of how this comes across? Not the title, the overall body of work here.

    • Caleb

      Please elaborate. Look I was never trying to argue Tyner was a bad RB. I just think Freeman is the favorite to win the starting job, and I was trying to argue in Tyner’s favor that assumptions like that shouldn’t be made this early with a team so deep at RB.

  • idahoduck

    Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Tyner start the National Championship? In the playoffs he was, in my opinion, the better back and should be the frontrunner to start.

  • CloselyWatchedGames

    I hope the coaches run Tyner and Freeman into the game in tandem, first down, first series, first game. Then your entire thesis crumbles, and you go off to do something else with your life.

    • Caleb

      I don’t understand where this (and other comments) are coming from honestly. I’m not saying that’s not possible. The entire point of this article was to argue that Tyner and Freeman very well COULD be running in tandem the first game. I think you, and the majority of the other commenters, are misunderstanding where I’m trying to come from. If you have more questions, feel free to ask. This isn’t a pro Royce Freeman only article.

      • hvrli

        Thicker skin, Caleb.

        • Caleb

          I’m just trying to clear up whatever confusion there is. I don’t care if people think I’m a bad writer, but it’s different when someone misunderstands the entire subject of an article.


    It will most likely be who plays the hardest and show’s the most results Game to Game and I believe next year both will be very good at what they do.

  • Anthony Joseph Gomes

    who cares about this starting back stuff/ oregon runs a 2 back system and there is more than enough glory to pass around for a team that can win pac12 titles and get to the final 4.