Oregon's 2014 spring game is just a week away, and head coach Mark Helfrich told reporters on Wednesday that the Ducks could play "as much of a football game as possible, with a couple modifications," per CSNNW.com.
We have a desirable format already chosen, we're going to see if we can do it after this week, ideally we'd play a game...I think that's what the fans want, that's what the players want. Hopefully, knock on wood, we can play a game.
The live-game format is contingent on the team's collective health, Helfrich said.
Despite possibly losing wide receiver Bralon Addison for the year, many of Oregon's more notable injuries are either preexisting—such as offensive lineman Tyler Johnstone—or minor. Running back Thomas Tyner falls in the latter category.
Andrew Greif of The Oregonian reports in his Wednesday notebook that Tyner was not in pads. Running backs coach Gary Campbell told Greif he is "hoping" Tyner is ready to participate in the spring game, adding that the running back's injury is "nothing serious."
Motivation for Marshall
While Tyner nurses his injury, junior running back Byron Marshall continues working to disprove naysayers. Marshall broke the 1,000-yard mark as Oregon's primary ball-carrier in 2013, racking up 1,038 yards with 14 touchdowns.
Still, Marshall has played something of a second, and even third, fiddle in his own backfield to Tyner and incoming freshman Royce Freeman.
Marshall told Rob Moseley of GoDucks.com that various slights give him fuel headed into the season:
It’s cool; I never really cared what other people thought. I just want credit where credit is due. That’s definitely a big motivation this year, to go and prove that I’m the best running back in the Pac-12, and one of the best in the nation.
Marshall is the conference's leading returning ball-carrier, ahead of such notable names as USC running backs Tre Madden and Buck Allen, UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley and Oregon teammate, quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Pac-12 Networks featured Mariota in its Thursday edition of Football Weekly. Mariota described his decision to return for his redshirt junior season as an opportunity to work on "technique and mechanics."
Offensive coordinator Scott Frost told Pac-12 Networks Mariota also has an opportunity to take charge as a true, on-field leader.
Mariota is using his fourth season in the program and third as captain of the high-powered offense to be more vocal. Mariota told The Daily Emerald Helfrich has worked with him in that regard:
A lot of people don’t really tend to understand my body language. But I think he [Helfrich] has been around me enough that he understands it and I think he wants me just to be confident and show leadership.
Taj Griffin, come on down. You're the next big-time running back recruit in the Oregon Ducks football program. Griffin verbally committed to Oregon's 2015 signing class on Thursday, giving the Ducks a new "No. 1 playmaker."
Per 247Sports.com, Griffin is a 5'10", 175-pound back with a blazing 4.35-second 40-yard dash time. He is a 4-star prospect, per 247Sports.com's composite rankings, but a 5-star per the site's own rankings.
The Powder Springs, Georgia, McEachern product updated his Twitter profile with an image of the team and confirmation of his commitment to the Ducks.
Oregon hosts another highly touted prospect in the 2015 class this weekend, 5-star Gardena, California, Junipero Serra defensive tackle Rasheem Green.
According to 247Sports.com, Green is the nation's No. 3-ranked defensive tackle. His commitment to Oregon, should it come to pass, would address a pressing, long-term concern for the program.
Oregon faces plenty of West Coast competition in its pursuit of Green. The 247Sports.com crystal ball projections lean a resounding 100 percent in favor of USC landing Green. Considering the strong pipeline running between USC and nearby Serra, that's no surprise.
The Trojans landed three Serra recruits in 2014.
Green also made an unofficial visit to Oregon's Pac-12 North rival, Stanford, earlier this month.
Ducks with Coverage
Insurance is a hot topic nationwide, and in Eugene, Oregon, that is no exception.
Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that Ducks defensive lineman Arik Armstead took out a "large disability and loss of value insurance policy" worth $5 million of coverage. Greif tweeted that Armstead joins Mariota, who purchased similar coverage through the NCAA's "Exceptional Student-Athlete Disability Insurance Program."
Getlin writes that International Specialty Insurance executive vice president Chris Larcheveque said "roughly 60 percent of the top 100 to 150 prospects" seek out such policies should a catastrophic injury derail their NFL pursuit.