Byron Marshall embodies Oregon's "Next Man In" philosophy.
Called upon to take over last weekend against California when De'Anthony Thomas left after the opening kickoff with an ankle injury, Marshall ran for a career-best 130 yards and two touchdowns. He'll be tapped again this Saturday when the No. 2 Ducks (4-0, 1-0) visit Colorado.
Thomas is most likely to sit out against the Buffaloes because of the right ankle sprain he sustained in the 55-16 victory over the Golden Bears. The dynamic running back returned the kickoff 27 yards but slipped on the turf that was slick from a driving rain.
Thomas has been wearing a boot and running backs coach Gary Campbell told reporters earlier this week that the speedy junior's return was "not going to happen" against the Buffaloes (2-1, 0-1). Thomas leads the Ducks with 338 yards rushing and six touchdowns this season.
Marshall is ready to go, Campbell said. About the only issue he had against Cal was fumbling in the pouring rain, including on his first two carries.
"I liked everything about his game except for the fumbles of course. That was a lot due to the weather," Campbell said. "But Byron stepped up and showed that he had the stamina to carry the load like I figured he would."
Marshall, a sophomore from San Jose, Calif., rushed for 464 yards and four touchdowns last season, while a bulk of Oregon's carries went to Kenjon Barner and Thomas. Barner graduated and is now with the Carolina Panthers.
Much like Barner was a more-than-capable backup to LaMichael James until James went to the San Francisco 49ers, Marshall is proving he's a sturdy and dependable sub for Thomas. He has rushed for 326 total yards and four scores so far this season.
"My mentality never changes," Marshall said. "My job is to be ready when they tell me to go."
Freshman Thomas Tyner also contributed against California, with 13 carries for a career-best 94 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.