Since early August when the No. 3 Ducks convened for fall camp at the Hatfield – Dowlin Complex, the buzz ( from the media ) has been nonstop about Oregon’s talented – but youthful backfield.
Who would get the bulk of the touches and would it be the Ducks prized freshman tailback Royce Freeman.
On Saturday, junior running back Byron Marshall shifted some of that buzz his direction with one of nights best performances as the Ducks throttled South Dakota 62-13 in Autzen Stadium.
Marshall not only led the way on the ground with 8 carries and 90 yards, he also topped the receivers with 8 catches for 138 yards and 2 scores.
Quietly, Marshall seemed like he had something to prove – and he did.
“It’s not that I think I’m getting overshadowed by Royce and Thomas, I don’t want that to come across cocky at all,” said Marshall after the game.
“But I’ve got a lot of fire burning inside of me. People might have their question marks about me … but they are going to be answered.”
Marshall placed an emphatic exclamation on that answer proving why he was the Pac-12’s leading rusher ( 1,038 yards – 14 TD’s ) in 2013.
After the game though, Marshall made it clear he remains a team guy and continued to praise his backfield.
“We’ve got a lot of talent in this backfield” said Marshall.
“I think some of the most talent Oregon’s had. We’re trying to get a fix of how to work everybody in and get reps and things like that. It’s cool to go out there to watch Thomas ( Tyner ) shine and watch Royce ( Freeman ) shine. I get just as excited watching them make big plays as when it happens to me.”
Although it was a memorial night for Marshall, not all went as planned.
With 5:42 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Marshall broke free down the right side for what looked to be an easy score however before crossing the goal line Marshall dropped the ball allowing it to roll free into the end zone forcing the officials to call a touch back giving the ball to South Dakota.
A mistake uncharacteristic of Marshall.
“A huge mental mistake” explained Marshall when asked about the play.
“I never really made a dumber play in my life. Of all the good that happened tonight, that’s the only thing that’s playing through my mind….stuff like that shouldn’t happen.”
When asked his thoughts, head coach Mark Helfrich was direct in his response.
“We had a good discussion” said Helfrich when asked what he said to Marshall after the game.
“We give the ball to the official. That’s all we do…which he did very well on the very next touchdown.”
A LITTLE BIT OF DAT
True freshman wide receiver Charles Nelson ( Daytona Beach, FL. ) showed why he was a much heralded speedster out of high school Saturday night and why he’s being described as the next De’Anthony Thomas.
At the 7:58 mark of the 3rd quarter, Nelson returned a Miles Bergner punt 50 yards for his first touchdown of his young Oregon career.
“My main focus was just catching the ball” said Nelson when asked to describe his first score. ”
“I was a little inconsistent during camp catching the punt,..but after I caught the punt it was just do what we’ve been working on,..and practicing. The blocks were there and just took off from there.”
VIDEO: Watch the Byron Marshall and Charles Nelson press briefing by clicking on the video box above.