Irving, Whittington Demonstrate Oregon’s Backfield Depth

Jordan Ingram Editorials

The No. 25 Oregon Ducks (2-1) appear to have found their web-footing when it comes to a reliable and productive run game.

Despite looming questions ahead of the game with the absence of Ducks starting running back Byron Cardwell due to injury, those fears were coddled and put to bed before halftime with remarkable performances from Oregon’s talented backfield.

Leading the charge Saturday against No. 12 BYU was Oregon sophomore running back Mar’Keise Irving, who had 14 carries for 97 yards (6.8 yards per carry). While Irving didn’t find the end zone in his strongest performance this year, the former Minnesota Golden Gophers back’s elusiveness and ability to zig-zag in heavy traffic helped position Ducks quarterback Bo Nix to punch in three rushing touchdowns.

Oregon Ducks running back Noah Whittington

Oregon Ducks running back Noah Whittington stepped up with his strongest performance this season.

Nix had quite a day for the Ducks, finishing with five total touchdowns. After completing 13-of-18 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns, the Auburn transfer finished with five total touchdowns, demonstrating to Oregon fans he has the ability to tuck-and-run with the best of them. FUN FACT: The last Oregon quarterback to finish with three rushing and two passing touchdowns was Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota in 2014 — the same year he won the Heisman Trophy.

Another pleasantly surprising performance was from Oregon sophomore Noah Whittington, who had his best performance this season, rushing for 66 yards on 13 carries. Irving and Whittington looked like a formidable duo behind an offensive line that was paving running lanes wide enough for an 18-wheeler all day against the Cougs.

BY THE NUMBERS: Oregon is averaging 38 points per game over the first three games of the season. So far, the Ducks have been incredibly efficient in the red zone, scoring on 17-of-18 trips (14 touchdowns). Oregon has converted roughly 50% of its third-down attempts but on fourth down, the Ducks are a staggering 87%, moving the sticks on 7-of-8 attempts. The Ducks have completed 69 of 98 pass attempts for 741 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions so far this year. On the ground this season, the Ducks have amassed 615 rushing yards, seven touchdowns and 44 first downs, averaging 200.8 yards rushing per game.

Jordan Ingram
San Diego, California
Top Photo from Eugene Johnson

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