Heisman Trophy-hopeful Kenjon Barner is an important cog in the Oregon Ducks' frenetic offense, but it appears his season may have hit a speed bump Saturday evening versus the California Golden Bears.
UPDATE: Sunday, November 11 at 12:06 a.m. ET by Ian Hanford
According to CBS Sports, Barner has returned to Saturday night's game:
Kenjon Barner is back in the game for Oregon.— Eye on College FBall (@EyeOnCFB) November 11, 2012
---End of Update---
According to Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, Barner was taken to the locker room in the first quarter of Saturday night's game:
Kenjon Barner came off the field with a wrist/hand injury. He's being taken to the locker room.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 11, 2012
Without Barner in the mix, Oregon's attack is still dangerous, but he'd certainly be a major loss. Before leaving the game he had 22 yards on seven carries, and he also had an 18-yard reception, but that doesn't truly speak to the impact he's made this season.
What he lacks in size, Barner makes up for with speed and agility. He's a roadrunner to the truest sense. If you don't bottle him up at the line of scrimmage, you might as well forget about it, and opponents haven't been able to slow him down consistently all season long.
He entered Saturday night's game with 1,295 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. He also had nearly 200 receiving yards and a touchdown through the air as well. Coming off a 2011 season where he nearly broke the 1,000-yard plateau, this shouldn't be a tremendous surprise, but any spectacular season will still catch your eye.
Considering that Barner is coming off his potential Heisman moment against Southern California (321 yards, five touchdowns) last week, an injury would be difficult to stomach for the senior ball-carrier.
If Barner can't go, look for De'Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall to see an uptick in their workloads. There's no doubt that Thomas can at least come close to replicating Barner's home-run presence, although Marshall isn't nearly as proven.
Chip Kelly's squad is hoping that their star running back can make a speedy return, but the cupboard isn't bare otherwise. However, missing any time, even if it's just a week, could shatter his Heisman hopes.
Stay tuned for updates.