Mario Cristobal stuck with his depth chart at running back.
Senior Tony Brooks-James got the start and the rotation of his backups was listed as “situational."
All six running backs saw time in the backfield as No. 24 Oregon ran for 212 yards on 42 carries in a season-opening 58-24 win over Bowling Green.
Freshman CJ Verdell led the way with 51 yards, Brooks-James had the best average at 5.4 and Cyrus Habibi-Likio was the only back to find the end zone.
“We spread the ball out and gave each guy a turn,” Cristobal said. “Will it be that way each game? It’s hard, but today it was necessary to get all the guys involved in some shape or form and for the most part we had good success. Whatever formula works to move the chains and score points is what we are going to do.”
Travis Dye was the first running back off the bench, followed by Verdell late in the first quarter. Darrian Felix and Habibi-Likio took the field in the second quarter before Taj Griffin got work in the third.
“The depth chart is what it is,” said Felix, who had 38 yards on eight carries. “We are all capable of doing what starting backs do, so lets roll.”
Brooks-James is the only running back with much of a track record the past few years at Oregon and he had the longest run of the group at 15 yards while finishing with 27 yards on five carries. Brooks-James also took a screen pass for 53 yards.
“We know TBJ is explosive and he showed that,” Cristobal said.
Verdell got the most work in his debut with 13 carries for 51 yards while the other redshirt freshman, Habibi-Likio, scored on a five-yard run during his only carry. Dye, the lone true freshman among the backs, had seven carries for 37 yards.
“I brought all I could,” Dye said. “It was a great experience to be out there at Autzen. … I played like it was practice. I ran as hard as I could and hit the holes as hard as I could.”
Two years ago it was his brother, Troy, who had a memorable debut as a true freshman with 11 tackles against UC Davis in 2016. Dye had eight tackles against the Falcons while checking up on his brother while standing on the sideline.
“It was cool to see him do what he does best,” Troy Dye said. “I am proud of him and how he performed.”
Following a pause, Troy Dye finished his assessment.
“At the end of the day, he’s still a bum, so it is what it is,” he said.
Senior Taj Griffin ran for four yards on his lone carry, but on the next play he took a screen pass 83 yards for a touchdown.
Dye, Felix and Verdell all missed time during fall camp because of injuries.
“We knew Travis and CJ were coming on strong in camp,” Cristobal said. “We knew Cyrus was a big, powerful guy who can make things happen. Before his injury, Darrian was an explosive player and we all know what Taj can do with the ball in space.”
New running backs coach Jim Mastro said recently he’d like to ride a “hot hand” at running back, but the Ducks seem likely to continue to rotate backs early in the season.
“We are all talented and we know we can do the job when we are out there,” Travis Dye said.
Oregon’s longest run came from quarterback Justin Herbert, who went 37 yards in the first quarter before finishing second on the team with 41 yards on six carries, including a 2-yard touchdown.
“It is a young group that worked hard in the offseason,” Herbert said of the running backs. “I’ve got confidence in them. Got to clean stuff up with base formations and stuff like that, but it is a smart group that is hardest on themselves. They will be here tonight and tomorrow and figure it out.”