by Rob Moseley
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — As Saturday afternoon progressed, and Oregon's margin over Virginia got progressively bigger, Duck fans across the country began collectively to ask the same question.
When was it time for Thomas Tyner to make his long anticipated UO debut?
Inside Scott Stadium, a UO player on the sideline was thinking along the same lines.
"I was starting to wonder," Tyner said. "Then coach Campbell told me to start warming up."
Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell finally unleashed his newest prized recruit Saturday, late in the second-ranked Ducks' 59-10 win over the Cavaliers. Tyner, the five-star freshman from Aloha, ran for a three-yard touchdown on his first carry, early in the fourth quarter, and finished with four rushes for 51 yards and two scores.
Tyner, who dressed but didn't play a week earlier in Oregon's opener, acknowledged feeling "a little bit of butterflies" after being told to get warm.
"There's nothing wrong with being a little nervous," he said. "I feel like I took care of it well."
On a day backup Byron Marshall struggled, the collective clamoring for Tyner's debut was perhaps even louder than it might otherwise have been. Tyner was somehow able to at least match the outsized expectations, running for nine, eight and 31 yards on three carries following his first touchdown.
The 31-yard run also ended in the end zone, and began with an early move by Tyner at the line of scrimmage that impressed his head coach.
"I thought that was a natural cut — guys kind of have that or they don't," Mark Helfrich said. "Gary Campbell's an unbelievable running backs coach, but you can't teach that feel, that kind of angle he took. That's encouraging."