Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell usually has a strong stable of running backs. However, he doesn't recall a time during his long career at Oregon in which he played four running backs in a conference game when the game was still in doubt as he did against Cal last Saturday.
“I've never been able to do that in a competitive game where the game was really still on the line,” Campbell said, per The Register Guard. “And really be able to depend on four guys to carry the load and really be productive, not just kind of keep things going.”
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Royce Freeman (180 yards), Tony Brooks-James (101 yards), Kani Benoit (94 yards) and Taj Griffin (59 yards) all played for the Ducks late into the fourth quarter against Cal. The Ducks would end the night rushing for 477 yards.
“It definitely makes life easier when we have four great running backs, and then our O-linemen blocking the way they did all night in the running game and passing game,” said quarterback Vernon Adams Jr., who added 43 yards to the rushing total. “It was huge. It makes it real easy on me just giving it to them and letting them do the rest.”
Oregon leads the Pac-12 in rushing and is ranked fifth nationally. Freeman himself is ranked fifth nationally in rushing yards per game (143). Freeman has taken on a heavy load this season and it seems like Campbell wasn't thrilled that Freeman had to carry the ball 29 times on Saturday.
“That's a little bit more than I want from him,” Campbell said. “It was good for him to get a break because when he does, he's at his best when he gets back in there and he's a little bit more rested. I think it's good for us in the running game as well because now we get him at full speed when he's in there.”
The Ducks will take their potent rushing attack on the road to Stanford this Saturday.