Taj Griffin

Overwhelmed Burmeister needs more help from his friends

Overwhelmed Burmeister needs more help from his friends

EUGENE – The good news is that Braxton Burmeister can only get better. The bad news is that it won’t matter unless he receives a little help from his friends.

The freshman quarterback made his starting debut Saturday night for the Oregon Ducks against No. 11 Washington State and the results were not good. He didn’t run well. He didn’t pass well. He didn’t call the cadence particularly well, at times.

But what transpired on offense for the Ducks (4-2, 1-2 PAC-12) during a 33-10 loss had as much to do with what went on around Burmeister as it did what went on with Burmeister,

Asking him to adequately fill in for the injured Justin Herbert (collarbone) was a tall order to begin with. Doing so while the offensive line had a subpar night and the starting receivers included a former safety and former running back proved to be completely unfair.

“I think this game he can learn a lot from,” UO coach Willie Taggart said. “He got that first game out of the way. He will be better as we move forward. But he needs a lot more help around him.”

The game was clearly too fast for Burmeister who struggled to read coverages and deliver accurate throws on time, if at all. Burmeister flashed some speed when he took off running but didn’t make defenders miss and took a lot of punishment. That could have proven to be problematic had he been injured because senior Taylor Alie was unavailable because of the concussion he suffered during last week’s win over California.

Burmeister ended up completing 15 of 27 passes for 145 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions and was sacked four times. He rushed for 35 yards on 11 carries but after sacks finished with negative four yards rushing.

His best two passes came on a 30-yard touchdown toss to a wide-open sophomore tight end Jacob Breeland that gave UO a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, and a 39-yard pass to sophomore Brenden Schooler who got open on a post route in the fourth quarter.

Other than that, it was dink and dunk for short gains. In fact, 11 of his completions went for eight yards, or less. Burmeister completed at least seven quick screens that went nowhere because WSU’s defense were dialed in on them as if they knew Oregon didn’t have many other options.

“We just didn’t really have enough time back there to make some plays,” Breeland said. “He’s got a good arm. He can throw the ball well.”

True freshmen players are not allowed to speak to the media.

When the Ducks did try to go downfield, Burmeister either found no open receivers and was sacked or flushed from the pocket, or he made an errant through. Several times he threw deep down the sideline on passes that had zero chance for completion because they were too far thrown and/or landed out of bonds.

Hindering the entire process for Burmeister was the wide receiver situation. Senior Charles Nelson ended up missing his third game with an ankle sprain after he warmed up during pregame in hopes of playing. Junior Taj Griffin, who also plays running back, started in his place. Sophomore Dillon Mitchell was unavailable because of the concussion he sustained against Cal leading to Schooler, a safety up until fall camp, starting in his place.

The results were inconsistent route running all game long that added to Burmeister’s confusion and indecision.

“Those are the lumps that you take with having young guys in there,” Taggart said. “A lot of those guys, they made some mistakes, too. We have to do a good job as coaches to make sure those guys are sharp on their assignments…especially when you have a young quarterback.”

But one had to know that all of the above was going to happen with a freshman quarterback making his first start while being saddled with such an inexperience receiving corps.

The biggest surprise proved to be the Ducks' subpar play of the running game. After Herbert went down and out in the first quarter Cal, the Ducks’ offensive line struggled for a quarter before completing dominating the Golden Bears to the tune of 328 yards rushing (5.9 per carry) on the night.

A repeat performance would be needed against WSU (6-0, 3-0), which entered the game with a rather strong defense but not much better than Cal’s.

But Oregon responded by rushing for 132 yards on 49 carries (2.9 per attempt). Senior Royce Freeman, still bothered by an injured shoulder that knocked him out of the Cal win in the first quarter gained 62 on 12 carries.

“We knew what Washington State was going to throw at us with all the movement,” redshirt sophomore center Jake Hanson said. “We just didn’t do a good enough job picking it up. Plain and simple.”

A better day rushing would have opened up more play-action, boots and roll outs for Burmeister, as well as given him better down-and-distance situations. Oregon converted on just 2 of 17 third down attempts

“I thought their D-line did a good jog against us,” Taggart said. “I didn’t think we played our best game upfront offensively. They did a lot of movement upfront that caused us some problems.”

So, where does Oregon go from here?

On the surface, they appear to be in huge trouble with games coming up at Stanford, at UCLA, then home against Utah before playing at Washington. Becoming bowl eligible might rely on winning home games to end the season against Arizona and Oregon State.

Herbert was said to be out 4-to-6 weeks, however, there appears to be a belief that he could return closer to the four than the six. That would but Herbert back in action for Utah on Oct. 28.

That would be great news for the Ducks, but in the meantime they need Burmeister and company to get better.

Despite what we all saw on Saturday, that could easily happen. Now that Burmeister has seen Pac-12 speed, he can adjust. The coaches must simplify the offense even more to allow for better receiver play and for Burmeister to flourish. It is also very likely that the Ducks get back Nelson and Mitchell this week at Stanford. If so, we should see an immediate uptick in the passing game.

Finally, none of that will translate into wins unless the offensive line and the running game can carry the offense.

“Everybody has got to get better,” Taggart said. “We have to go to work and learn from this tape. But more importantly we’ve got to know what we’re doing.”

Oregon's Taj Griffin is back, hungry and dangerous

Oregon's Taj Griffin is back, hungry and dangerous

When Oregon junior Taj Griffin took a pass over the middle 20 yards to the end zone in the second quarter of the team's 49-13 win at Wyoming on Saturday, running back Royce Freeman was one of the first teammates to greet him.

"I was trying to rush to the end zone once he scored as fast as I could to give my man some love," the senior captain said.

It was a big moment for Griffin, who hadn't played in a game since an ACL tear during a non-contact drill late last season cost him the final three games of the year.

"It was definitely great to get back out there," Griffin said.

Griffin said he probably could have played in No. 24 Oregon's first two games. But, given that he had missed spring drills and remained limited during fall camp, he thought it best to wait until he was completely 100 percent healthy. That time has come and the lightening-fast and elusive playmaker is ready to contribute. 

"He is a lethal weapon, especially if we use him correctly," Freeman said. "He can do a lot of great things for us."

How exactly will be used? As a running back or as a receiver?

"I like both," he said. "Wherever I can get the ball in space and help my team out."

The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Griffin, recruited as a running back, is listed as a wide receiver on the team's depth chart but received six carries for 35 yards at Wyoming in addition to his lone reception. 

Griffin isn't quite as electric as for UO star De'Anthony Thomas was, and he isn't as polished as senior receiver Charles Nelson. Still, Griffin is a lethal combination of both that could prove to be a wild card for the Ducks this season and a force in the future. 

Oregon is very deep at running back with Freeman, senior Kani Benoit and redshirt junior Tony Brook-James. The receiver position, however, is a lot thinner behind Nelson. Griffin is now listed as the backup slot behind Nelson. In the long run, that ultimately could be Griffin's best position given his lack of ideal size at running back. 

"I'm not the biggest guy, frame wise," he said. 

Thomas, who played at Oregon at 5-9, 175-pounds, moved to receiver his freshman year and ultimately got drafted into the NFL as a receiver by Kansas City.  Griffin has a similar skillset and is hoping to take over the starting slot position next year after Nelson has moved on to the NFL. 

"I'm definitely work towards that," Griffin said. 

For his career, Griffin has 788 yards rushing and six touchdowns on 120 carries and 271 yards receiving 18 receptions for three scores. 

Nelson is currently nursing a sprained ankle but is likely to play Saturday at Arizona State. If not, or even if he's simply limited, we could see a lot more of Griffin in Tempe, Ariz.  

UO wide receivers coach Michael Johnson said Griffin is still learning the position but certainly presents some firepower and will be used in certain situations.  

"When he gets the ball in his hands in space, he is a dynamic player," Johnson said. 

Oregon's running backs learning new tricks

Oregon's running backs learning new tricks

Running back drills during Oregon's spring practices have been a bit light on the running backs. 

Senior Royce Freeman, redshirt senior Kani Benoit, and redshirt junior Tony Brooks-James have been the only three going through drills under new running backs coach Donte Pimpleton in what appears to be a thin crew of familiar faces. But appearances can be deceiving. The Ducks remain very much stacked at the position regardless of the overall numbers. And the group is as close as ever.

“We’re like brothers,” Freeman said.

Oregon's running game should look quite familiar next season in new coach Willie Taggart's no-huddle offense, but there will be more of an emphasis in running straight ahead (downhill) and being physical, both along the offensive line and for ballcarriers, especially the 235-pound Freeman.

Taggart, who has reviewed all of last season's game film, said he believes Freeman must run behind his pads better. Meaning, he must be more physical and allow his size and pad level to go through defenders rather than provide tackling angles that benefit defenders. The same points were made about Freeman under former running backs coach Gary Campbell. But in the team's old system, the running game relied a bit more on finesse than this new system under co-offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal, who came to Oregon from power-running Alabama. 

Cristobal wants the offensive line to be more physical and has added some downhill running plays to Taggart's offensive scheme that the new run game coordinator wants to see Freeman exploit with his size and strength by delivering "body blows," similar to wearing down an opponent in boxing. 

“Come the fourth quarter, your yards per carry and your knockdowns you have, your trunk yardage plays and explosive plays should increase by a significant amount,” Cristobal said. "We want to make it so by the fourth quarter people don’t want to tackle Royce Freeman.”

Or, any other running back on the team for that matter. Cristobal said the entire group has shown toughness this spring. 

“You want to be around guys that enjoy collisions,” Cristobal said. “That search and seek opportunities to be physical and to be tough and to establish a mindset.”

Oregon's depth at running back will receive a jolt next fall. Junior Taj Griffin, who injured his knee late last season, could return at some point, or he could redshirt to save the year of eligibility. Either way, the Ducks will also welcome in freshmen running backs, C.J. Verdell and Darrian Felix. Cyrus Habibi-Likio could also play running back but is expected to start out on the defensive side of the ball. 

So, depth shouldn't be an issue. Then again, does a team really need more than Freeman, Benoit and Brooks-James to be successful? Not likely.

“You know you’re gong to get the same type of talent level [no matter who is] going in,” Benoit said. “There’s not going to be a drop off.”

Freeman said the group was reminiscing the other day about having been together for so long. Benoit will enter his fifth season at UO while Freeman and Brooks-James enter their fourth. The bond among the group, Freeman, said is strong. Benoit said that sense of brotherhood trumps any potential hard feelings about playing time. 

“We all feed off each other," Benoit said. "We all try to make each other better."

Pimpleton, Benoit said, has been working out well and in some ways is like Campbell in how he relates to the players.

“Really calm, but he gets his point across,” Benoit said. “We accept that well. He’s not a yelling coach, he’s not a berating coach. He tells you what you need to do, if not then you’ll come to the sideline. He’ll just waive you over.”

Pimpleton, who along with other assistant coaches who aren't coordinators hasn't been made available for interviews this spring, is putting a heavy emphasis on running backs learning to recognize defenses and fully understand the blocking schemes. 

"That helps us run a lot better knowing where our lanes are and where the holes are going to be," Benoit said. 

How Oregon's recruits fit in: RBs - Three freshmen create logjam

How Oregon's recruits fit in: RBs - Three freshmen create logjam

Oregon coach Willie Taggart last week signed his first recruiting class, which Rivals.com ranked No. 18 in the nation. Now CSN is taking a look at how each new recruit could fit into the Ducks' plans next season.

Other entries: Quarterbacks, Wide receivers/Tight ends, Offensive line, Defensive lineLinebackersDefensive backs.

Today: Running backs.

New Ducks: Darrian Felix (5-11, 194, Fort Myers High School, Fort Myers, Fla.),  C.J. Verdell (5-9, 195,Mater Dei Catholic High School, Chula Vista, Calif.) and Cyrus Habibi-Likio (6-1, 211, St. Francis High School, Mountain View, Calif.).

Projected 2017 starter: Royce Freeman, Sr., (5-11, 230). 

Key backups: Tony Brooks-James, RJr., (5-9, 185), Kani Benoit, RSr., (6-0, 210) and Taj Griffin, Jr., (5-10, 180).

The situation: Oregon is set to return four running backs that combined for nearly 2,200 yards rushing last season.

For that reason, finding playing time for any of the three incoming freshmen could prove to be impossible.

None of them has a chance to beat out Freeman for the starting job. Chances are that Brooks-James is too experienced and talented to be unseated at No. 2.

The only way one freshman would have a chance to rise into the rotation would be if Benoit transfers and/or Griffin is slowed in his return from the knee injury he suffered late last season.

While all three incoming freshmen were three-star recruits, Verdell is the highest-rated among them. Rivals.com had him as the 26th-ranked running back in the nation. He rushed for 2,399 yards and 36 touchdowns on 9.2 yards per carry as a senior.

Habibi-Likio, who says he also hopes to play linebacker or safety, wasn't quite as productive as Verdell but brings more size and power to the party. 

Felix is a burner with more size than Griffin. 

The verdict: Unless something gives, Oregon will have seven scholarship running backs on the roster next fall. That means the three freshmen will redshirt if all four returning backs are healthy and ready to go. If not, one of the freshmen could make a mark as a backup or on special teams. But figure that at least two freshmen running backs will redshirt in 2017.

Oregon 2017 Outlook - RBs: Royce Freeman's return means Ducks remain loaded

Oregon 2017 Outlook - RBs: Royce Freeman's return means Ducks remain loaded

Oregon's worst season (4-8) since 1991 (3-8) led to a coaching change. Yet, the Ducks' cupboard is hardly bare for new coach Willie Taggart. We will take a position-by-position look at what the new coaching staff will have to work with while trying to turn things around in 2017.

Other entries: Quarterbacks; Tight ends, Wide receivers, Offensive line, Defensive line, Linebackers, Defensive backs

Today: Running backs.

Key loss: None. 

Projected 2017 starter: Royce Freeman, Sr., (5-11, 230). 

Key backups: Tony Brooks-James, RJr., (5-9, 185), Kani Benoit, RSr., (6-0, 210), Taj Griffin, Jr., (5-10, 180).

What we know: Freeman's return was not required for Oregon to remain potent at this position but having him back certainly gives new running backs coach Donte Pimpleton less to worry about in 2017.

Freeman, should he remain healthy, will likely break LaMichael James' career rushing mark of 5,082 yards. Freeman, who has 4,148 for his career, needs 934 yards to tie James.

What might be more intriguing than watching Freeman chase history is seeing how Brooks-James evolves as a player. He showed flashes of elite ability last season while filling in for an injured Freeman to the point where he became the primary ball carrier in several games, even starting at USC. Had Freeman entered the NFL Draft, next season would have been Brooks-James' time to shine as the starter, but he should still receive enough carries to surpass the 771 yards he racked up last season on 7.6 per carry. Brooks-James will likely be the featured back in 2018 should he stick around for his senior season. 

Benoit, like Brooks-James, has shown abilities worthy of a starter but he won't get that chance with Freeman's return. Nevertheless, Benoit (300 yards last season) gives Oregon a starting-caliber running back off the bench. 

What we don't know: Griffin was lost for the season with a knee injury in early November. He should be able to recover by the start of next season, but where he fits in as a specialty back in Taggart's offense remains to be seen. Chances are Griffin settles back into his role of receiving spot carries in the hopes he breaks a long one, as he did with a 50-yard touchdown run at Nebraska last season. 

UO has two running backs committed to the 2017 class. Both should plan on redshirting behind this group. 

Final word: This position carries with it the least amount of mystery on the team. Pimpleton should have the easiest transition out of all of Oregon's new assistant coaches.  

Position grade: A. Oregon should lead the conference in rushing once again.  

Next up: Tight ends.

BREAKING: Oregon RB Taj Griffin and WR Dwayne Stanford out for season

BREAKING: Oregon RB Taj Griffin and WR Dwayne Stanford out for season

The injury count continues to rise for Oregon. 

Next on the list is sophomore running back Taj Griffin, who is out for the season with a knee injury suffered this week at practice, according to sources.  Also, according to a source, senior wide receiver Dwayne Stanford won't play again. He has been out since injuring his leg Oct. 1 at Washington State. 

Griffin has had a quiet season as the team's No. 4 running back, but his speed would have been useful today against a strong Stanford defense when the Ducks (3-6, 1-5 Pac-12) host the Cardinal (6-3, 4-3) at 1 p.m. at Autzen Stadium. 

Last season at Stanford, Griffin scored on a 49-yard touchdown reception during Oregon's 38-36 upset victory.

Griffin has not delivered many such big plays this season. He has just 89 receiving yards and 183 rushing yards compared to last year when he gained 162 and 570, respectively. 

Oregon has suffered numerous serious injuries this season. Junior left tackle Tyrell Crosby and redshirt junior wide receiver Devon Allen were lost for the season earlier in the year.  Senior linebacker Johnny Ragin III, also ruled out for the season earlier this year, will try to play today against Stanford. 

Another dozen or so key players for UO have missed significant time with injuries. 

Griffin, unfortunately, is no stranger to knee injuries. He suffered a season-ending knee injury his senior year at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga.  Sources were not sure if he injured the same knee this week. 

The good news is that Griffin, with any luck, should have enough time to rehabilitate in time to return to action next season. 

UO RB Royce Freeman to return at WSU

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Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

UO RB Royce Freeman to return at WSU

Oregon junior running back Royce Freeman has a chance to rewrite the programs rushing record list this season. Each week we will provide an update on his progress. 

EUGENE - Oregon junior running back Royce Freeman will return to action after missing one game with a lower leg injury, Oregon running backs coach said today following practice. 

"He's been practicing full, so I expect him to be 100 percent," Campbell said following Tuesday's practice. 

Freeman, not available for comment, left Oregon's loss at Nebraska on Oct. 17 in the first quarter with 31 yards. He then was held out of Saturday's loss to Colorado at home. 

Missing seven quarters of action, and the team losing two games, have pretty much killed Freeman's chances at becoming a Heisman Trophy candidate. 

The action missed had also severely hurt Freeman's chances of breaking Oregon's career rushing record held by LaMichael James.

Freeman is 1,555 yards away from James' record of 5,082 set from 2009 through 2011. 

Freeman began the year with 3,203 career yards after rushing for a program-record 1,838 yards in 2015. That figure broke James' previous single-season record of 1,805 set in 2011. 

Here is a statistical breakdown of Freeman's run at both the yardage and touchdown records:

RUSHING YARDAGE

James' record: 5,082 yards.

Last week: Freeman sat out the team's 41-38 loss to Colorado. The week prior at Nebraska he rushed for 31 yards before leaving the game in the first quarter with an injury during the 35-32 loss. 

2016 total: Freeman has gained 325 yards on 37 carries this season. 

Career total: Freeman has 3,528 career yards. He needs 92 to move into second place all time ahead of Kenjon Barner (3,623)

Freeman needs: He sits 1,554 yards away from breaking James' record. 

Average needed per game (13-game season): With nine games remaining, Freeman must average 172.7 yards per game to break James' record. 

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS

James' record: 53.

Last week: Freeman sat out. 

2016 total: He now has four rushing touchdowns. 

Career total: Freeman sits at 39 for his career. He needs two touchdowns to tie Barner (41) for second place. 

Freeman needs: He is 14 rushing touchdowns away from breaking the record. 

Next up: The Ducks play at Washington State (1-2). 

UO RB Royce Freeman to sit out Colorado game

UO RB Royce Freeman to sit out Colorado game

Oregon junior running back Royce Freeman, who left last Saturday's 35-32 loss at Nebraska in the first quarter with a lower leg injury, will not play today when the Ducks host Colorado at Autzen Stadium, according to sources. 

Freeman, who was just announced as the starter during pregame and appeared on the field during warmups in full uniform, but not in cleats, is expected to make a full recovery from the undisclosed injury. 

Kani Benoit was announced as the starter. 

Freeman gained 31 yards on five carries at Nebraska before leaving the game. Oregon's running game performed well without him and should again today. 

Benoit had 100 yards on six carries with a long of 46 and a touchdown run of 41 yards. Redshirt sophomore Tony Brooks-James scored three touchdowns while carrying the ball seven times for 37 yards. Sophomore Taj Griffin had eight carries for 71 yards and scored on a 50-yard run.

 

Oregon's RB depth of Benoit, Griffin and Brooks-James ready for action

Oregon's RB depth of Benoit, Griffin and Brooks-James ready for action

EUGENE - Oregon running back Royce Freeman will get most of the carries, gain most of the rushing yardage, score the most rushing touchdowns and receive the most attention from the media and opposing defenses. 

But it would be unwise to sleep on his supporting cast.  The trio of redshirt junior Kani Benoit, sophomore Taj Griffin and redshirt sophomore Tony Brooks-James should be considered starting-caliber backs that are simply stuck playing behind te 235-pound force of nature that is Freeman. Still, they plan to be heard. 

“We want to be one of the best RB groups in the country and we’re going to show it this year,” Griffin said.

While Freeman, a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, will be chasing LaMichael James' career rushing record of 5,802 yards (Freeman needs 1,880) the backup trio will be looking to make individual marks of their own on the season for No. 24 Oregon. 

Each got their feet wet last season with Griffin darting his way to 570 yards on 7.4 yards per carry, Benoit, the primary backup then and now, gaining 364, and Brooks-James going for 288. That's 1,222 yards from the backup running backs. 

Such depth contributed to Oregon not signing a running back for the 2016 recruiting class, and it led to what running backs coach Gary Campbell called a relatively easy fall camp for his group. Something Benoit agrees, stating that the backs, now veterans, know what they are doing allowing Campbell "to spend less time in the meeting room with us.”

Knowing what to do and doing it with high efficiency are two different things, so the backs, Benoit said, have focused mostly on fine-tuning what they all learned last season in what for all three was their first taste of real college action.

Repeatedly, there have been reports out of practices of these three backs making the defense look silly. 

“Everybody at this level is talented and can make plays," Griffin (5-10, 175) said. "But it’s more so about who can be reliable and go out there and make the least amount of mistakes.”

Beniot (6-0, 210 pounds), a two-star recruit in 2013, has been a great story given that he developed from being somewhat of an overlooked recruit to becoming Oregon's No. 2 back. 

“I think I’ve improved a lot, especially when it comes to game time, being out there and just reacting to a lot of plays,” Benoit said. “I think I thought a lot before and now it’s just reacting.” Brooks-James (5-9, 185) said similar things about himself. That last year he learned how to be a college football player. This year, he is also more comfortable and ready to go.

As backups, each brings something different to the field. 

“Me and Tony are both fast,” Griffin said. “Kani and Royce are both strong.”

At the same time, Griffin and Brooks-James do pack some power while Benoit and Freeman are hardly slow. The versatility gives Oregon options.

“There’s obviously some special plays that we have in there for certain situations, certain teams and different schemes,” Benoit said.

All three believe they could be starters, and plan to play like one when their name is called. 

“Everyone is competing to always be that guy," Benoit said. 

Oregon has three men ready to be next at running back, a luxury most teams only dream of. 

Roses or Roulette?: Ducks Preview Part 2 - Freeman and RBs come up aces

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USA Today

Roses or Roulette?: Ducks Preview Part 2 - Freeman and RBs come up aces

College football is back! The Ducks begin fall camp on Monday so we're breaking down each position to determine if the Ducks, picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12, and their fans will be smelling roses as Pac-12 champs during a trip to the Rose Bowl, or placing bets at a roulette table prior to watching a sixth-place UO team in the Las Vegas Bowl. Each position is graded using the poker hand scale.  

Today: Running backs. 

Projected starter: Junior Royce Freeman (5-11, 230) returns for his third season as the lead back with school records and a Heisman Trophy in his sights.

Key backups: Redshirt junior Kani Benoit (6-0, 210), sophomore Taj Griffin (5-10, 175), redshirt sophomore Tony Brooks-James (5-9, 185).

Smelling like roses: Freeman should be a candidate for Pac-12 offensive player of the year, and possibly the Heisman Trophy, while he chases LaMichael James' career rushing record of 5,802 yards and his rushing touchdowns record of 53. Freeman needs 1,880 yards and 19 touchdowns to break both records. Should he do his thing and attack both records, Freeman would also be giving the Ducks what they need to contend in the Pac-12. 

Behind Freeman are three running backs all fully capable for rushing for 1,000 yards as a starter, giving the Ducks an embarrassment of riches. 

Griffin, the speedster, rushed for 570 yards last season while averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Brooks-James, also quite fast, gained 288 yards last season. Benoit, last season's primary backup, rushed for 364 yards.

Place your bets: Oregon could suffer two serious injuries at this position and still be okay. Any combination of the three backups would produce a quality running game capable of getting the Ducks to the Pac-12 title game. Should three go down, the Ducks could be in trouble. That scenario is unlikely.

Odds are: Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell always does a good job of balancing the workload for his starter while finding optimal spots to get production out of the backups. That will continue this season. This group will be fun to watch.  

Poker hand: Full house. The Ducks are stacked with both depth and versatility. Never before has Oregon had a more eclectic group of running backs. They will be a major strength of this team, and certainly are championship-caliber.  

Next up: Wide receivers/tight ends. 

Other posts: Quarterbacks; Wide receivers/Tight ends; Offensive line; Defensive line; Linebackers..