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Royce Watch: Freeman Expected Back

The Ducks running game certainly hasn’t slowed down without their Heisman hopeful, but it won’t hurt to have No. 21 back on the field either

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple sources close to the Oregon Ducks, running back Royce Freeman is expected back on Saturday against Washington State after missing the Colorado game with an undisclosed lower leg injury.

With Royce Freeman in street clothes nursing a leg injury, the supremely talented Oregon backfield trifecta had the opportunity to shine on Saturday against Colorado. Their backfield combined for 215 rushing yards on 45 total carries and three scores.

Tony Brooks-James led the way for the Oregon rushing game with 120 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Kani Benoit carried the ball 13 times for 49 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Taj Griffin finished with 27 yards on nine carries including a score of his own.

Virginia v Oregon
Royce Freeman is expected back on the field Saturday, just in time for Washington State and the Cougars from Pullman, Washington.
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

If you ask the Duck coaching staff, they will tell you this is the most talented backfield in their program’s elite history. With four stars that can all carry the mail, Oregon is truly blessed with a wealth of depth. However, finding consistent playing time for all four will become more tricky with the workhorse Freeman back in the fold.

On the season so far, Freeman has dazzled and dashed to 325 yards on 37 total carries for an incredible average of 8.8 yards per carry, alongside four touchdowns. He has also caught four balls for 34 yards. His 207 rushing yards against Virginia was a season-high mark for the Ducks rushing attack.

Freeman will be welcomed with open arms, as the Oregon running back depth is only growing stronger with the All-American candidate. This will also open up players’ versatility like Brooks-James who can now split out wide like a receiver and play on the field at the same time as Freeman.

We shall see how head coach Mark Helfrich delegates playing time amongst the four. Yet, if Freeman starts fast, look for Helfrich to stick with the workhorse’s hot hand. The Ducks kick-off against Washington State on Saturday as they seek to snap their current 2-game losing skid.

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