It's only one game.
Thomas Tyner touched the ball four times in his first action as a Duck, in mop-up time of a decided game, but what he showed fans in that brief stint has everyone projecting and speculating on his value, output and potential as a first-year player.
High-flyin' Ducks: Blake Stanton and Thomas Tyner celebrate the second of the fabulous freshman's two touchdown runs against Virginia. Tyner was mobbed by teammates after both of the scores, and that rite of acceptance and initiation will reverberate through his rookie campaign (Andrew Seng/Oregon Daily Emerald photo).
Coming off an August ankle injury. Tyer had four carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns in his first game as a true freshman. LaMichael James as a redshirt freshman in 2009, began his stellar Duck career with 2 carries for 22 yards against Boise State, and 9 for 56 yards the next week against Purdue. His running mate Kenjon Barner, now #2 on the all-time rushing list, began his first campaign with 1 scant 7-yard reception against the Broncos, 5 carries for 34 yards against the Boilermakers, including a darting 21-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter that won the game.
Tyner excites fans because he's bigger and faster than both Barner and James at 5-11, 201 on the program. He may play at 215-220 for the bulk of his Oregon career, and his high school best in the 100 meters, 10.35, is a full two-tenths faster than James, three-tenths better than Barner's, electronically clocked. Tyner might run one day in the Olympic Trials, and he has more potential as an NFL back than both of the Oregon greats that proceeded him.
The brief audition at the end of the Virginia game should dispel doubts about his toughness. Before breaking his sensational 31-yard run for a touchdown the former Aloha Warrior broke hard off tackle twice, finishing runs driving through tackles for 8 and 9-yard gains, the second for a first down. Head coach Mark Helfrich called the cut the freshman made on the 31-yard blast "something you just can't teach."
In the weeks ahead, fans will see the promising freshman get a larger role in the offense, perhaps 10-12 carries a game. He'll give defenses more to worry about, and allow De'Anthony Thomas to stay in the multiple look, in-space role where his sudden acceleration and elusiveness make the biggest impact. Tyner's ability to cut, see a hole and make a quick read make him a tough inside runner with speed and drive to give a leg and take it way at the second level, giving the Ducks another dimension in what was already a loaded offense.
Comparisons are tricky, but among the most entertaining of sports conversations. Particularly with running backs, fans want to quantify a player's style in terms of someone they've seen, a legend of the past. Though the sample size on Tyner is small, a few knowledgeable fans have compared him to Tony Dorsett, who had a similar glide and acceleration.
Dorsett, though, was 5-11, 192. Tyner's already bigger and likely to add muscle in Jim Radcliffe's training and conditioning program, with no loss of speed.
The best comparison in Oregon football history, minus the off-field antics, might be Onterrio Smith. Playing at 5-10, 214, Smith had 1000-yard seasons for the Ducks in 2001 and 2002. Tyner is much more grounded personally, with extraordinarily supportive parents and a stable network of friends.
I think I stand with most Duck fans as Tyner's initiation to the Duck offense was impressive.
But let's not count out Marshall just yet. Marshall was running against a very good D Line and didn't have much room to operate. I think the coaches certainly see that and it's not cause for concern. Those saying he doesn't have burst is just not true. While DAT and Tyner have 'more' burst', Marshall is plenty adequate as a downhill runner with breakaway speed.
DAT isn't going to be able to carry the load the entire season and we're going to need Marshall and Tyner for the tough carries inside. If anything Marshall hasn't losta fumble in his career and can be counted on for tough yardage, setting up DAT on the edge and in space, drawing the LB's in opening the under for our TE's and crossing patterns, and certainly Tyner spelling him with fresh (and fast) legs.
I think Gary Campbell did it exactly right. A very nice start to what
we all hope will be an illustrious Duck career for our young Mr. Tyner.
In a brief stint, we were lucky to see just a glimpse of his awesome
potential. And what a thrill for a true freshman to have his first carry
be a touchdown. As for the comparisons, while it is still way too early.... I too, see a glimpse of Dorsett and perhaps a little Marcus Allen or maybe Curtis Martin. I think Onterrio Smith was amazing in his Oregon years but think he was shiftier than Tyner. I guess we'll see.
Great jerseys he was a beast.... I see the similarities. People compare Touchdown Thomas to Jstew which is a stretch. Clearly TT can play at this level, regardless of whether he was going against the backups he sliced them up like he works at Benihanas. He's an elite RB and Smash was more like Smush yesterday. Dat has been awesome thus far but he needs TT to take some weight off his shoulders. I think we will embarrass UT Saturday they looked average on TV. Good practice going up against a massive O-Line though. Looking forward to talking football with folks who say 'ya'll' in each sentence.
Cal looks like a record game as in dust off the record books for that one the Bears look Unbearable
Tyner had a great start to his career at Oregon and is exciting to watch. However, he was running against Virginia's back up players while he did all this. Forde came in the series after Tyner and was gashing the defense as well. I am not saying Tyner will not be special because I believe he will, but we need to keep things in perspective. I hope he gets a few meaningful carries against Tennessee so we can see what he can do against an SEC defense. Go Tyner and GO Ducks, win the day!
In what little we saw of him, to me he seems to have instant acceleration. I would imagine when he gets a few reps against Tennessee the Autzen crowd will go wild.
I hope this does not negatively impact Byron Marshall's confidence. Lets see what happens with Byron after a week of coaching.
Everytime I hear the name Onterrio Smith, I think of the Whizzanator.
@ducksninersgiants Campbell said he thought Marshall may have been running tentatively after his fumble early in the game. I agree that Byron still remains a valuable part of the running back rotation, and their position coach, with his 31 years of experience is a great one to entrust with sorting out their roles.
@goducks58 You might be right about the shiftiness. Smith was a jitterbug with the spin move, and Tyner is more of a smooth glider. Tyner's style is a perfect fit for a zone-blocking team--he has great vision and makes one cut and zooms, exactly what you want in this style of offense.
@lexusduck The Bears haven't put it together after two games, although new quarterback Goff has thrown for a zillion yards. Agree with you that J-Stew is a stretch, a much different back playing at 230 lbs. Marshall couldn't get going against the Wahoos, part play-calling, part blocking, and part his reversion to plowing headlong into the pile and dancing in place.
@lexusduck In all fairness, the play calling for BM was the A or B slot against their 1's. This action was all day for him. He was NOT given a decent chance to do anything else. If you check out the replay you will see that the middle of the line was not available to anyone until the fourth quarter. This however may have been by design for other unknown reasons. I feel it was a little unfair to judge BM on the plays he was given.
Go Ducks WTD
@theduckforpresident True enough about Forde and Virginia's backups. We will have a better idea in the coming weeks, but based on what I've seen in his highlight video, watching him in high school, the coaches comments and his brief debut., he will in fact be a special player.
@SonomaDuck the classic pause, that refreshes, just not in public
@SonomaDuck Hard not to associate Smith with that unfortunate and career-defining moment.
@hoboduck @lexusduck Agreed that Virginia substitutions contributed heavily to Tyner's success, but his cuts and decisiveness were impressive. Still a bit disappointed that his weight is 201 after hearing that he was around 215. A larger back would be useful at times. Unless we see more Colt in the backfield, that is a real need.
Then why did dat rack up 120 while Byron ran 15 times for 30? Because dat is dat and Byron lacks burst it was evident going against a real defense. If Byron can't produce against UVA how can we hope that he produces vs Stanford or tennessee? It's still early, maybe he can improve but what I saw was pure explosion from TT.
The blocking is generally the same for all backs, clearly we don't have a dominant inside run game yet but get the big boys in space and we are off to the races.
@hoboduck @lexusduck When I looked back at the video last night it looked to me like one, he had an absence of holes as you fairly pointed out, but two, I see him hesitating and running without a lot of authority. Zone-blocking requires the running back to make decisive cuts and run where the holes are. He just shuffled into the pile on some of those plays. Coach Campbell will work with him on this, and he'll do better this week.
Tyner has the frame to get bigger. His power is in his sprinter's legs but he can get stronger in the arms, chest and shoulders. He does run with pretty good power even now.
Absolutely agree that the cuts and vision are what jumps out about it, stuff only great runners do.
@lexusduck - because DAT got to the edge and BM ran up the middle. The OL blocking isn't as casual as you make it seem.
There's different blocking schemes on the same exact play call, depending on how the DEF is setting up, and then again on what shifts or stunts they show when lined up.
Tyner is going to be very good for us. But let's not count BM out, he's a stud and we are going to need him; it's a long and tough season. We don't have the RB depth as in years past and one going down to injury is very possible.
A committee approach vs. having a workhorse will be extremely effective as all three provide a chance of pace to the situation, especially when the DEF is gasping for air.
@TCrites @Dale Newton @hoboduck @lexusduck It's something that most young running backs go through, and coaches will teach on in film. The trick is to get the most out of the carries and be decisive. Just about everyone is excited and curious about how Tyner might grow into a larger role in the coming weeks.
@Dale Newton @hoboduck @lexusduck I agree with you Dale about BM being hesitant and not exploding. I tend to remember Kenjon having the exact same problelm until they fixed that issue. All of the Duck backs are very talented and will be fine with time. I can't lie though, I am very excited to see more carries from TT.