Oregon Football has a long, storied history of talented running backs that have donned the green and yellow. In recent memory, the program has churned out stars such as LaMichael James, Royce Freeman, LeGarrette Blount, Kenjon Barner, Jonathan Stewart... The list goes on, and on, and on.
For the most part, the Ducks have always had talented a running back corps, but each group had its bell cow. The one back that stood out as the number one guy. Even the two-headed monsters of the past had one back that you knew was the "the guy."
That may not be the case in 2019, and that's a good thing.
The Ducks have a plethora of riches at the running back position, and they have found ways to use every one of their talented ball carriers.
Through the team's first three games five different backs have carried the ball, with a different player leading the team statistically each week.
In Week 1, CJ Verdell led the way. In Week 2, it was Darrian Felix. And last game against Montana, it was Travis Dye that carried the load.
"I think that a tribute to the backs in their room, let alone what Coach Mastro has done with those guys. He's done an awesome job," said Offensive Coordinator Marcus Arroyo. "That group's gonna get a lot of touches all over the board, similar to last year. I think they've stepped up and they've done an awesome job."
Not only are the Ducks using multiple backs, they're doing so in an incredibly balanced fashion. The team has averaged 186 yards per game, but only one player has surpassed the 100-yard mark. On the season, Dye has 29 carries for 152 yards, Verdell has 30 carries for 149 yards, while Felix has 18 carries for 127 yards.
There is no lead back, because there doesn't need to be. Instead, the Ducks have a true three-headed monster... and we haven't even talked about Sean Dollars or Cyrus Habibi-Likio, who have combined for 19 carries and 121 yards on the season.
Senior quarterback Justin Herbert said of his backfield mates, "It's a great problem to have so many of those guys. Each one of them can fill in. Shoot, we got four or five guys out there that we have complete trust and faith in. I know that they'll get the job done."
Offensive lineman Shame Lemieux, like Herbert, knows the Ducks are well-equipped to pound the ball. "Our running backs are incredible," said Lemieux. "CJ's (Verdell) so fast and shifty. He's a stout runner, he's really ready to run downhill. I think Travis (Dye) is kind of a squirrely guy. He's just gonna take off like a little roadrunner... We're loaded, so I'm really happy to have that."
Now here is the scary part - The Ducks haven't even clicked yet. You see, we all know that even the best running backs need great offensive lines. They need the big guys up front to open up holes to give them running lanes. While the numbers say the Ducks have been successful in this regard, Lemieux thinks otherwise.
"I don't think we've been doing a good enough job. I think we can even do better. Once we start playing to our standard I think it's going to open up even more and our running backs are gonna get more credit."
If this is how Oregon's three-headed monster looks when the offensive line isn't doing a good job, the Pac-12 should be terrified with what this running game will look like when Lemieux and Co. click.
We'll see if they click on Saturday when they take on a Stanford defense that has allowed an average of 135.33 yards per game on the ground. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. (PT) on The Farm.