The Oregon coaching staff has been adamant and clear about one thing all season long, and after seeing his performance on friday night, they might have to change their stance. Freshmen running back Royce Freeman had his third straight week of over 100 yards rushing in Oregon’s win against Cal. If he keeps having these type of performances, the coaching staff will have to dismiss their “running back by committee” idea.
The Ducks’ performance against Cal this past friday wasn’t perfect. Oregon’s defense continues to be inconsistent and their inability to complete tackles allowed the Golden Bears to break free for large gains. Oregon allowed 5.1 yards per carry and the Golden Bears took advantage of that by compiling four rushing touchdowns.
However, the Ducks’ offense looks to be clicking on all cylinders and Marcus Mariota had another stellar performance. He amassed 326 yards, five touchdowns, but he was picked off for the first time this season, ending a streak of 253 passes without an interception. Furthermore, redshirt sophomore Dwayne Stanford was impressive showing off his unique athleticism and speed. He compiled six receptions for 103 yards and two touchdowns
Freshmen running back Royce Freeman continued to demonstrate why he should be Oregon’s feature tailback. Freeman’s ability to find gaps for big gains and keep plays alive has separated him from the plethora of other running backs on the Ducks’ roster. He compiled 22 carries for 112 rushing yards and two touchdowns. “If we’ve had a back in my time at Oregon that can have 20 carries a week it’s Royce,” said the Ducks’ offensive coordinator Scott Frost.
While the freshmen running back has averaged nearly 23 carries and 134 rushing yards the last three weeks, Freeman says that he doesn’t get caught up in the numbers. “I feel like that is my strong suit,” he said. “I try not to think about how many carries I didn’t get so I mean as the game goes on I’m trying to wear the defense down and trying to get it in the end zone.”
Freeman has excelled expectations and has taken advantage of his opportunities. The Ducks’ leading tailback needs 242 more rushing yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season and he is only two touchdowns away from breaking Lamichael James’ record for touchdowns by a freshmen.
While Oregon’s coaching staff remains adamant about its “committee” approach, you can expect Freeman to continue running over defenders, while showing the country that he belongs in the top tier of running backs. “He comes to work every day, he works hard,” said Ducks’ teammate Byron Marshall. “He’s just out there getting better and when it comes game time, he just wants to be special.”
Top Photo by Kevin Cline