Oregon showcases new faces in backfield in win over EWU
The cupboard is never bare in the Oregon backfield, and the Ducks’ 2015 season opener against Eastern Washington was just the first opportunity for Mark Helfrich to show off the new weapons that will be spelling Royce Freeman.
While the grizzled veteran Freeman (a sophomore) still took the bulk of the carries, redshirt freshman Tony Brooks-James and redshirt sophomore Kani Benoit each displayed that trademark Oregon speed and reached the end zone in Oregon’s 61-42 win over the Eagles Saturday night.
Last year’s Special Teams Scout Team Player of the Year, Brooks-James scored on a 12-yard run early in the second quarter to give Oregon a 27-7 lead and finished the game with six carries for 63 yards and that score. Benoit, who never played in more than five snaps in his redshirt freshman season last year, ran 11 times for 83 yards and the first score of the game (an 8-yard run) while also catching a pass for 19 yards.
If that wasn’t enough, freshman back Taj Griffin reeled off a 61-yard scamper on the last non-kneel-down snap of the game. Griffin wasn’t even listed on the depth chart for the Eastern Washington game.
Make no mistake, though – Freeman is the unquestioned alpha dog lining up behind or to the side of Vernon Adams. The 2014 Freshman All-American dominated the FCS defense to the tune of 180 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries (nearly nine yards per touch on the ground).
All in all, the Ducks accumulated a whopping 485 rushing yards. As Pac-12 Networks play-by-play man Kevin Calabro said at the end of the game, the Oregon running back corps have an embarrassment of riches.