by Rob Moseley
Oregon kicked off the 2013 season and the Mark Helfrich era with a historic performance on offense Saturday in Autzen Stadium, with three Ducks rushing for over 100 yards in the No. 3 UO football team’s 66-3 win over Nicholls.
De’Anthony Thomas ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 18 carries, taking over the role of primary back from departed senior Kenjon Barner. Sophomore Byron Marshall added 124 yards on eight carries, including a 49-yard score, and quarterback Marcus Mariota ran five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns.
The trio was the first from Oregon to exceed 100 yards in the same game. In 2007 at Washington, Jonathan Stewart led the Ducks with 251 yards, Andre Crenshaw had 113 and quarterback Dennis Dixon finished with 99.
“We’re starting legacies now,” Marshall said. “It’s a new beginning today. A lot of things are starting to change, and I guess this is the first of many.”
Thomas exceeded by one his previous career high of 17 carries, set last season at Oregon State. He had touchdowns of four and 22 yards in the first quarter, and said the heavy work load took no toll on him physically.
“Not at all,” Thomas said. “My body feels great and I’m looking forward to Monday.”
Running backs coach Gary Campbell said the 18 carries is right around the perfect amount for Thomas. The coach had hoped to go to Marshall more often earlier in the game, but some short Oregon scoring drives prevented that.
There had been some speculation that Marshall might receive more carries early on, freeing up Thomas for the all-purpose role he’s played in the past.
“We’re gonna feature both those guys in different ways,” Helfrich said. “Defense by defense, the game plan can dictate that a little bit.”
The backs ran behind an offense line that featured Everett Benyard in place of starting right tackle Jake Fisher for much of the second and third quarters. There was no update on Fisher’s status after the game.
One guy not featured in the running game was true freshman Thomas Tyner. Having recently returned from a lower leg injury, Tyner needs more practice time before seeing the field in a game, Campbell said.