clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Royce Watch: The Hobbled Duck

Oregon’s Heisman Trophy frontrunner was derailed by injury Saturday against Nebraska. Royce Freeman pulled himself out of the game after sustaining a leg injury

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After rushing the ball five times for 31 yards on Saturday, Oregon’s Royce Freeman hobbled off the field under his own strength at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska. Amidst the Ducks second drive of the game, their All-American Heisman hopeful exited the game and did not return.

Following the possession, Freeman was seen on the sideline icing his right leg. He originally was icing just his shin, then added another bag of ice to the back of his leg which inevitably led to further speculation from all media outlets. Later in the game, he was dressed in street clothes walking under his own power along the Duck sideline.

"I don't think he felt like he could return," said Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell.

Oregon is still awaiting results, which they should receive in the next 24-48 hours. However, the Ducks could manage to not divulge anything publicly, as they are known to keep injures in house. Either way, head coach Mark Helfrich is not too concerned. He knows it’s the next man up.

NCAA Football: Oregon at Nebraska
Tony Brooks-James plunged into the end zone for one of his three touchdown scores on Saturday against Nebraska from Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

“Not a great deal, it didn’t really change anything,” said Helfrich in reference to losing his star back early in the game. “That’s one of those things, you talk about a fluky game. Did we rush for 300 yards and not turn the ball over? Did that happen and lose? That’s a tough one.”

The loss of Freeman did not seem to halt the quack attack’s impressive rushing attack though. In fact, the three “back-ups” rushed for a total of 208 yards and five touchdowns. Maybe we should be featuring them as our weekly Heisman Watch hopeful?

Tony Brooks-James rushed the ball seven times for 37 yards and three scores. Kani Benoit rushed the ball six times for 100 yards and a score. And don’t forget about Taj Griffin, who carried the ball eight times for 71 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown jaunt.

These running backs could be starters for most program’s in the country. Unfortunately for them, they found themselves behind the All-American from California. Nevertheless, injury is a part of the game and their time to shine has come to forefront.

The Ducks’ running backs coach has the best view of this backfield on a daily basis and Campbell believes in their depth at the position.

"I've got confidence in all three running the offense," said Campbell.

Offensive coordinator Matt Lubick was on the same page as Campbell, illustrating the trust their coaches have in all the running backs.

"We don't like it when Royce goes out but we feel really good about the guys behind him," stated Lubick. "I think those guys all showed that they can do really good things. We knew that coming into the game."

NCAA Football: Oregon at Nebraska
Dakota Prukop can certainly run the ball and now he will be asked to carry the load a bit more with Royce Freeman nursing an injury.
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t forget, the Oregon quarterback is not too shabby at running the ball either. Dakota Prukop rushed 20 times for 51 yards, but lost a great deal of yardage on sacks. However, he illustrated a great deal of speed, quickness and maneuverability.

The Ducks’ signal-caller addressed the injury to Freeman on Saturday, reinforcing his coaches sentiments of the next man up.

“That’s tough, that’s tough. But, you know, next man up,” said Prukop. “We got a lot of depth all over the field, a lot of guys that aren’t ’starters’ who all made unbelievable plays today.”

In other injury news for the Ducks today, wide receiver and 2016 Olympian Devon Allen has been lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Left tackle Tyrell Crosby was also seen on the sideline Saturday, in a walking boot and he is done for the season, as well. The injuries are starting to pile up for Oregon, and we are just three games into the underaged season.

All told, 296 rushing yards and five touchdowns for the Oregon running game will be more than enough moving toward Pac-12 play. However, it may not be enough if the Ducks defense is continually allowing scores of their own. Running the ball only helps the clock move. Oregon may want to consider friend requesting the game-clock manager at Autzen Stadium on Facebook.

Stay tuned to Addicted To Quack for all news regarding injuries to Oregon players, including extended coverage on Freeman, Allen and Crosby in the coming days.

Remember to follow ATQ on Twitter @AddictedToQuack for everything Ducks