Despite the quarterback situation being the major concern going into next season, another pivotal aspect that’s worth mentioning is the running back situation in Oregon. Last season, the addition of current true sophomore RB Royce Freeman proved to be effective for the Ducks as he finished the season fifth in the Pac-12 in rushing yards. Plus, the Ducks were able to slide over RB/WR Byron Marshall to the slot position and utilize him in the passing game.
Yesterday morning, I met with Marshall at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex to discuss the personal progress he has made during spring practices and his view of the running back corps going into next season.
The first question I asked the true senior revolved around how he’s able to be such a versatile player, whether it be mentally or physically. With confidence but humility, Marshall mentioned how he was “just blessed, honestly. Probably was genetics or all the coaches and friends who have helped me through the years grow as a player and get accustomed to new positions.” Going into last season, some Duck fans weren’t entirely sure how Marshall would be utilized in the offense. He’s such a dynamic player, and the northern California product deserves lots of playing time. “Part of it is my ability to understand different positions quicker, but most of it has to go to the glory of God and the blessing He gave me,” replied Marshall.
In regards to next season, I inquired about how the running back situation is shaping up so far. “We have a lot of amazing backs who are very talented in their own way. To be honest, we just have to see how it goes. It’s entirely up to the coaches to decide, not us as players,” Marshall said firmly. He’s right; it can go any way possible. With incoming freshman RB Taj Griffin still rehabilitating an ACL injury that he suffered in high school, it looks as though the core could be similar to last year’s. However, keep an eye on redshirt freshman Tony James and sophomore Kani Beniot, both of whom can possibly take some reps next season.
Lastly, I asked this true senior about his view of the quarterback situation. “All of them are playing well. Evidently, Lockie is the front-runner and the individual who will be our guy going into next season,” Marshall mentioned at first. Ultimately though, Marshall said that it will truly depend on the QB’s comfort level with the offensive schemes that will result in Oregon’s next QB.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck