Oregon Ducks Royce Freeman Appears To Be Running Solo…For Now


Four games into the season Royce Freeman is still searching for a running mate. The Ducks lost running back Thomas Tyner for the season after he had shoulder surgery in August. Oregon is a system of running back by committee, in the past we had Barner and James. Last year it was Freeman and Tyner. This year well it’s just Freeman carrying the load. The Ducks have turned to Kani Benoit along with Freshman Running Backs Tony Brooks-James and Taj Griffin with mixed results. Both had decent games against lower division teams, but didn’t show up for the Michigan State game.

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Freeman was solid against Michigan State carrying the ball 24 times, for 92 yards, a 3.8 average and one touchdown. Thomas Tyner presence is missed as last year he finished 113 carries , 573 yards, 5.1 average and five touchdowns. Tyner was a reliable running back behind Freeman. His numbers took a dip last season from his 2013 season when he finish with 711, 6.2 average and nine touchdowns. That was because of the emergence of Freeman and that Tyner missed a game. Coming into this season it was expected that Freeman and Tyner would carry the load together as Oregon broke in a new man behind center.

Last season Tyner was expected to be the featured back for the Oregon Ducks, but then freshman Royce Freeman proved either wise. Freeman was white hot all season carry the ball 252 times, for 1365 yards, 5.4 average and 18 touchdowns. Because of his size 5’11 230 he was considered the first powerback the Ducks had since LeGarrette Blount. Along with Tyner 5’11 215, Oregon had backs who could go between tackles, and not always have to take it to the corner like in the past. It made Oregon’s offense even more dangerous as before you just had to worry about shutting down the corner with Barner or James.

At the end of the 2014 season Freeman was awarded the Pac-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and Pac-12 All-Conference 2nd team. Oregon had discovered a back that was big, fast, powerful and who could run the ball anywhere. Freeman who is only a Sophomore has a couple of more years with the Ducks after this season, unless he leaves early for the NFL draft. Many in Oregon hope he stays all four years. Next season a healthy Tyner returns and hopefully together they can take the pressure off another fresh face behind center. Meanwhile this season, Oregon will hope a freshman back can mirror Freeman sucess carrying the ball. A freshman that can have a breakout season and take the Ducks deep into the postseason.

Oregon begins Pac-12 Conference play this weekend hosting Utah on Saturday at 5pm Pacific Time on FOX.

Next: Pac-12 Week Four Preview: Who Survives?