Expect Ducks RB Marshall To Get More Carries
By John Baker
It was over quickly, it was fairly painless and each side ended up with what they sought — an impressive win for Oregon and athletic department revenue for Nicholls State.
Oregon's offense stormed to a school-record 772 total yards in the 66-3 thrashing of Nicholls State on Saturday and in the process got plenty of big plays from the usual suspects. Quarterback Marcus Mariota threw for a score and rushed for two more; De'Anthony Thomas rushed for 128 yards and a pair of scores; tight end Colt Lyerla scored, as did Bralon Addison. Running back Byron Marshall had a long touchdown run.
While the offense rolled down the field at will, the defense had its moments. The defensive line snagged five of the team's six sacks. The talented secondary had no interceptions, but the Ducks recorded eight pass break-ups.
Oregon's win was about what everyone expected of the opener. The Ducks were looking for a way to let people know that even with Mark Helfrich taking over for Chip Kelly, the yardage and points were going to flow.
Now, the Ducks look toward a road tussle with Virginia (1-0) Saturday and, despite the big win, still have some things to sort out.
The casual fan and pundits will look at DAT's 18 carries compared to Byron Marshall's eight and assume that Marshall is the second stringer and we're going to see Thomas carry the load rushing the ball. In a game like this, the ebb and flow simply had DAT getting carries early and often as they sought to establish dominance. And let's be honest, Nicholls State isn't going to bring the physicality and size between the tackles the way a Washington, Stanford or even Virginia will. Oregon's offensive line neutralized the Nicholls State defense enough to allow that many carries for Thomas, while he caught only one pass.
The general feeling is he'll get the rock 15 to 20 a game, but expect more of those touches to be through the passing game. Marshall demonstrated that he's capable of carrying the load between the tackles and will get the Virginia game to solidify that position. A side note to the running back saga is that uber-recruit Thomas Tyner, he of the elite speed, will be ready to go this weekend. It will be interesting to see what Oregon does with yet another speed guy available.
Another area of concern is the offensive line with three new starters. They had their good moments and then they had some that weren't quite as good. Nicholls State, despite giving up 66 points, took it to the offensive line on a few plays. Perhaps concentration faltered in spurts with the Ducks putting the game out of reach early. If so, that offers the Ducks' O-Linemen a teachable moment, particularly since Virginia figures to be much more formidable this weekend.
Defensively, we should learn more about the Ducks this week against a better Virginia offense.
No. 2 Oregon (1-0) at Virginia (1-0)
Time: Saturday, 12:30 p.m. PT
Location: Scott Stadium (Charlottsville, Va.)
Last Week: Virginia came from behind twice in the second half to beat BYU, 19-16, in a game delayed more than two hours by bad weather.Kevin Parks (RB) gained 65 yards on 20 carries and scored the game-winner late for the Cavaliers. He also caught 7 passes for 62 yards in the win.
David Watford (QB) hit on 18-of-32 passes for 114 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Virginia's defense held BYU quarterbacks to 13-of-40 passing and recorded 3 sacks and an interception. Kicker Ian Frye hit a 53-yard field goal and the Cavaliers blocked a punt.
Of Note: Virginia has a pair of first-year coordinators on staff. Steve Fairchild, most recently head coach at Colorado State and an offensive consultant under Norv Turner in San Diego, runs the offense. The defensive coordinator is Jon Tenuta, whose last stop was at North Carolina State.