Thomas Tyner Injury Will Test Oregon’s Lauded Depth

Thomas Tyner breaks a tackle as he has a big gain | Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News
Thomas Tyner breaks a tackle as he has a big gain | Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News

Thomas Tyner Injury Bad But not Catastrophic


The news of Oregon running back Thomas Tyner missing the entire 2015 season due to shoulder surgery would be a damning blow to most programs. Anytime a team loses a former five-star recruit, it’s a big deal that would usually send fan bases into a frenzy.

But scanning the comments sections on Twitter, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report show fans are obviously upset at the news, but by no means ready to call the season over before it starts.

“Not even close. Although a big loss, Oregon is deep at RB. They will be fine!!,” said Raida Dave.

“Team is deep…no worries…get well,” said Newsflash.

“A big loss, but not crippling once you consider how deep Oregon is at RB. Could be worse I guess. Get well soon Thomas Tyner,” said Chuck Freaking Norris.

See, even Chuck Norris is still optimistic. Tyner is coming off of a season in which he lost the starting job to emerging stud Royce Freeman. Tyner’s line for the season was 573 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He was expected to challenge Freeman for the starting job in 2015.

Thomas Tyner breaks a tackle as he has a big gain | Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News
Thomas Tyner breaks a tackle against UCLA. | (Gary Breedlove/Eugene Daily News)

But ensuring a starting spot in Oregon’s offense is like being cast as Doctor Who; they go through a lot of them. Byron Marshall was expected to be the lead back after LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner departed and instead was moved over to wide receiver last season following the injury to Bralon Addison.

Coach Mark Helfrich mixes and matches players like an incoming college freshman’s wardrobe so Marshall will likely move back to running back to fill Tyner’s spot. Addison will also be back at receiver.

Of course this puts more pressure on Freeman to carry the load and remain healthy throughout the season. He’s a bruising back who can absorb a lot of hits, but the Ducks dynamic offense allows multiple weapons to be used so his number of carries won’t be astronomical compared to other programs.

As for Tyner, his father John Tyner said the surgery went well and the running back is expected to make a full recovery and return to action in 2016. The timing of the surgery is curious.

Tyner apparently injured his shoulder while returning a kickoff last season against Washington. He missed the following game at California before returning for perhaps his best game with the Ducks in a victory against Stanford. He was also the featured back in Oregon’s two playoff games.

To play well in multiple games, participate in the Spring game and then decide to have surgery right before Oregon begins its fall practice is strange to say the least. Tyner had a lot of hype coming out of Aloha High School and his time at Oregon so far has been average at best.

You can never have enough depth, but the Ducks should be able to weather the storm. Besides Freeman and Marshall, they also have redshirt sophomore Kani Benoit, redshirt freshman Tony Brooks-James and true freshman Taj Griffin at running back.

Passionate about movies, sports and writing, Ryan hails from Bend but lives in Springfield now. He earned his college degree in journalism from the University of Oregon and hopes to one day write a novel. He also enjoys sunsets and long walks on the beach.

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