Oregon running backs coach Jim Mastro talks rotation, playing time for the deep unit

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

Oregon football turns its head to San José State for week three of the season after a 62-14 defeat of Portland State. It will be another opportunity for the Ducks to work out the kinks before No. 9 Stanford come to Autzen Stadium for week four.

Right now, Oregon is juggling six running backs: Tony Brooks-James, C.J. Verdell, Travis Dye, Cyrus Habibi-Likio, Darrian Felix and Taj Griffin. While Brook-James is the starter, and Verdell seems to be right behind him, all six are fighting for touches. It’s one of the storylines to watch as Oregon faces its final nonconference opponents.

Here is running backs coach Jim Mastro talking to the media about the rotation:

Q: How are the guys handling this rotation?

A: “Well, they understand that competition is awesome. It keeps practices’ tempo up, and they know to play they got to produce. So, competition is the greatest thing you can have in a room.”

Q: Does there come a point where you feel like you have to tailor down the rotation a bit?

A: “You know, we’ll see. Right now they’re all doing some things really well, so we’ll see as we go along. We’d like to narrow it down, but you never know.”

Q: Everyone is a little different in that group. Are we going to see everyone in that group all season long?

A: “I don’t know about that. This week we probably will just because they’re doing some things nice in practice. They’re practicing hard. It’s hard to take a kid’s playing time away when they’re doing everything you’ve asked them to do. It’s a great problem to have. I’ve said that for years, you can’t just have one. If you want to have a good rushing attack and a balanced rushing attack, you have to have more than one guy. Right now we have five, six we feel comfortable with.”

Q: What’s the determining factor that gets a guy ahead of the next?

A: “Production. A guy that just is hot. [Verdell] was hot last week in the second half so he played a little bit more.”

Q: You’ve got two games to see how this running game is going. How happy are you with it?

A: “Very happy. We’re asking them to run a little bit different than they have in the past. It’s not as much feast and famine. We don’t want a bunch of tackle for losses. We’re more downhill and in between the tackles. … It’s kind of a different mentality than what they’ve had in the pass.”

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