Oregon vs. California: Byron Marshall steps up after De’Anthony Thomas is injured

Oregon junior running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) speaks to the media following the Ducks win over the Golden Bears. (Nate Barrett/Emerald)

Oregon junior running back De'Anthony Thomas (6) speaks to the media following the Ducks win over the Golden Bears. (Nate Barrett/Emerald)

Posted by Beth Maiman on Sunday, Sep. 29 at 12:42 am.

Too often in football a running back can be one play away from his season ending.

Although the word isn’t out yet on the status of Oregon’s running back De’Anthony Thomas, who suffered an ankle injury running back the opening kickoff in the Ducks’ 55-16 win over Cal, it is undeniable that the possibility of Thomas not being 100 percent healthy for the Ducks is daunting.

Thomas took a hard hit running back the kick but seemed to get up just appearing a little shaken up. However, as the junior running back walked to the sideline he eventually fell to the ground, looking to be in pain.

One of the loudest stadiums in the country was suddenly silent.

From the looks of it, Thomas suffered a right ankle injury while attempting to make a cut.

“It was pretty frustrating,” Thomas said. “I am always in a game and I am not used to being out, but I just got to learn from it, come back and go even harder.”

With Thomas sidelined, the ball was in the hands of Byron Marshall.

Marshall said when he saw Thomas go down he kept the same mentality of “just go get it.”

“My mentality never changes,” Marshall said. “The fact that he went down there early I just knew my role was just going to get bumped up a little more than it normally was.”

With the insane weather conditions, the offensive play calls favored running.

Marhsall fumbled three times in the first quarter, but to the Ducks’ advantage, all were recovered.

“He needs to control the ball a little better, he got lucky on a couple of those,” head coach Mark Helfrich said. “We have a ton a confidence in Byron. He has an exceptional fall camp and he just needs to keep developing.”

Marshall seemed to eventually find his groove and picked up the Ducks’ first touchdown for the night with a 14-yard rush.

With just under four minutes left in the first quarter, Marshall ran for 25 yards to pick up his second touchdown and finished the day with a career high in yards, racking up 130 yards for the game.

“I am definitely happy with how I responded,” Marshall said. “It was a slow start for myself. I feel like I don’t fumble very much. It’s not OK. No matter what the condition it is, it’s not OK. But we didn’t lose the ball. We still kept possession and you can just keep playing.”

Running back Thomas Tyner also saw action today with Thomas hurt. The freshman, who had a breakout game against Virginia, got in the game for the final minute of play in the first quarter, but fumbled on his first carry of the game, giving Cal the ball on Oregon’s 33-yard line.

Tyner was able to bounce back from the turnover, scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and finishing the game with 94 yards on 13 carries.

When asked about Tyner’s performance, Helfrich stated that he did OK, did a couple great things, but needs to handle the ball better.

“Both (Marshall and Tyner) played really well and were hitting the holes that were given to them,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said.

Today’s game proved that Marshall and Tyner both can step up if needed. But the absence of Thomas caused Oregon to lack the extra spark.

When asked about if he could play next week against Colorado, Thomas stated he wasn’t really sure if he would be able to play the next game and would see throughout the week.