Does Oregon Have Two Players Running for Heisman?

David Marsh Editorials

By now we have all seen pictures of the Bo-Dacious billboards in New York and Dallas in what is an official but unofficial Bo Nix for Heisman campaign. It’s only unofficial in that the Heisman is not printed on any of the material, but we all know better. But there is another player who is just as worthy of a billboard: Bucky Irving. Mr. FishDuck took time from studying his FanDuel NFL odds, and his FanDuel NFL Research to agree with me on this notable development.

By now it should not come as a surprise that I am a huge Irving fan, and I firmly believe the coaching staff needs to feed the beast more if Oregon is going to be successful at a high level this season. What may come as a surprise is, in the opening game against Portland State, Irving only had four carries. Irving made the most of those carries as he averaged 29.8 yards and scored two touchdowns Both touchdowns came on long runs, the first 52 yards and the second 56. In the end those four carries gave Irving a team high of 119 rushing yards on the day and he caught three passes for a total of 30 yards as well, 10 yards per pass.

Irving is an explosive play waiting to happen.

In comparison, Jordan James had 10 touches and accumulated 86 total yards and three touchdowns. And both freshman running backs Jayden Limar and Dante Dowdell both had eight carries and a touchdown each. All three running backs averaged around eight yards per carry, which is entirely respectable. Noah Whittington did not play against PSU. But on a team that is absolutely loaded with running back talent, it is clear that Irving stands above them all.

Irving evades three PSU defenders to reach the end zone on a 52 yard run.
(Photo by Pac-12 Media YouTube)

Irving possesses all the qualities a running back needs to be successful. He has incredible vision (both his touchdowns came from him making the correct read on the run play) and he is able to make the cut to the correct opening. Then we see his acceleration and open-field speed which make him so difficult to catch. And even if the defense can make contact with him, an arm tackle will not bring him down as he has spectacular balance that allows him to keep his feet and keep going.

Finally, he has the power. Even if a defender squares up against him to make a tackle, there is a high probability that Irving is going forward regardless. Irving has a knack for always falling forward and picking up more yards.

Irving’s Long Touchdown Run Against UNC

One of the best examples of Irving’s skill set can be seen in the images below against UNC in the Holiday Bowl where Irving ran for a 66-yard touchdown.

At this stage of the play Irving, green circle, has already beat the defenders at the line of scrimmage and now has to make it through the second level of UNC defenders. The red circle is Cam McCormick blocking two UNC defenders and Irving sees a lane he can take for more yardage — and with this angle, those red defenders are now out of the play.

(Photo by Pac-12 Media YouTube)

Up-field is the orange circle which has TJ Bass, I believe, blocking a linebacker and the angle of that block means that Irving is going to have to cut inside towards the yellow circle which is currently an unblocked UNC defender, but Troy Franklin is also in a position where he can potentially make a block. The yellow defender will need to cut Irving off to keep him from scoring and will move to fill the gap.

(Photo By Pac-12 Media YouTube)

However, in filling the gap, Irving is now able to use Franklin as a blocker by cutting to the outside away from the yellow defender and leaving the defender stuck out of position to make a play on Irving. Meanwhile, the orange defender is completely sealed off and is out of the play.

(Photo by Pac-12 Media YouTube)

With a forced Franklin block, who puts his hands up to avoid a holding call, Irving is now in a foot race to the end zone. He has three UNC defenders behind him but with his speed they are unable to catch him. Right before the end zone a UNC safety comes running across the field to try and catch him, but he is too late and Irving scores.

This play shows just how dangerous Irving is on the field. In this play there is sound blocking by the offensive line to get him into the second level and once in the second level there are other Ducks who are able to help set blocks, but Irving needs to make all the right reads and cuts to make that happen. Irving really is the one who creates the final block where Franklin takes out the defender to allow Irving to reach the open field.

This is what makes Irving such a good running back, in his ability to make his own play. This is what is going to make him a nightmare for defensive coordinators this year who already have enough to worry about when it comes to Nix and this group of talent receivers. How are they also going to stop Irving? If Irving gets enough carries per game he is absolutely a Heisman candidate, and the Ducks should promote him as one.

Someone should get Irving a billboard right next to Nix, as Oregon has two Heisman candidates.

David Marsh
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By: Craig Strobeck


Natalie Liebhaber, the Volunteer Editor for this article, works in technology in SLC, Utah.

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