Previewing the Oregon Ducks: Running Back

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IJune 29, 2009

In 2008, the Oregon Ducks were one of the most successful running teams in the nation. They were able to get both Jeremiah Johnson and LeGarrette Blount to over 1,000 yards rushing. Not many teams could slow down the Ducks, and they hope to continue their rushing attack this year.

LeGarrette Blount

Blount returns this year for his senior season, and he is a handful to take down. He rushed for 1,002 yards and also set a school rushing touchdown mark with 17.

This year, Blount will be relied on to be the go-to back, unlike last year, when he was able to split time with senior Jeremiah Johnson.

Blount has continued to work on his conditioning throughout spring and summer workouts, and when he is ready to go come September, defenses could be in for some long Saturday afternoons.

Andre Crenshaw

Andre Crenshaw will provide Oregon with a change of pace. Blount is a back that has speed but does not shy away from going right at defenders.

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Crenshaw, on the other hand, possesses speed and will be able to take advantage of worn-down defenses late in drives and in the game.

Last year, Crenshaw only saw limited stats, but this year, he will be relied on much more. After only gaining 121 yards last year, Crenshaw could be in for a big senior season

Jeremiah Masoli

Normally I would move on to the next back on the Oregon depth chart, but Masoli is a huge part of the Oregon running attack. Last year, Masoli was the third leading rusher with 718 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The key this year will be Masoli forcing defenses to respect his running ability but actually running less. It has been years since the Ducks have had a QB stay healthy the entire season, and with the passion and aggression that Masoli runs that ball with, it would only be a matter of time before he gets banged up.

LaMichael James

James is a redshirt freshman with a ton of upside. He has great speed and vision, and many expect him to make an impact this year.

With the amount of talent that Oregon has at running back, they will be able to use James in certain spots to allow him to gain experience and confidence as the season goes on.

Group Grade

The Oregon ground game has been one of the top rushing attacks in the nation for a few years now. With the implementation of Chip Kelly's spread offense, backs have found themselves being able to play in space and pick up big yards.

Other backs that may have an impact on the season include Remene Alston Jr. and possibly redshirt freshman Kenjon Barner.

The Ducks have a lot of talent in the backfield, and when trying to defend an option keeper between Blount and Masoli, defenses will have to stay disciplined in order to have a chance.

Grade: A