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Byron Marshall shows versatility with No. 3 Ducks

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 4, 2014 at 6:37 pm •  Published: September 4, 2014

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon running back Byron Marshall has picked up where De'Anthony Thomas left off.

The speedy Marshall showed a new dimension in the No. 3 Ducks' opener, leading the team with eight catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns.

His expanded responsibilities in Oregon's hyperdrive offense are reminiscent of Thomas, who was a versatile threat for the Ducks before going to the NFL.

"He has great hands. We had to find ways to get that guy on the field," quarterback Marcus Mariota said about Marshall. "He's done a great job. He's still learning out there."

Marshall, and the rest of the Ducks' offense, will face a considerable challenge Saturday when Oregon hosts No. 7 Michigan State in one of the more anticipated nonconference games of the season.

The defending Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Spartans are known for their stalwart defense, which was ranked fourth in the nation last season, allowing opponents an average of just over 274 yards of offense per game.

Marshall, the Pac-12's top returning rusher, has embraced his new role.

"He has done a great job on being able to make the most of his opportunity," Mariota said. "He has done a great job trying to learn as much as he can and be a key for us out there. We are very fortunate to have him."

Marshall enjoys veteran status among Oregon's group of running backs, joining sophomore Thomas Tyner and true freshman Royce Freeman.

The trio has been dubbed the "three-headed monster" after accounting for 412 yards of offense and four touchdowns in Oregon's 62-13 victory over South Dakota on Saturday.

The Ducks even used all of them all at once, with Marshall in the slot.

"All of three of our backs have exceptional hands, and it gives us the ability to use them in different ways," Ducks offensive coordinator Scott Frost said this week.

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