Kim: Thomas Tyner will be key in National Championship

One of the most intriguing storylines of Oregon’s already memorable run to the 2015 National Championship has revolved around the ups and downs of sophomore running back Thomas Tyner. Soft-spoken to the media, Tyner was never one to get involved with off-field activities, making it difficult to ever know how he was truly feeling.

It was apparently for good reason.

Following his notable performance in the 101st Rose Bowl game, where he finished with two touchdowns and 124 rushing yards on 13 carries, Tyner reaffirmed his five-star talent level. He also lifted a big weight off his shoulders by flushing out any frustrations that he may have previously had involving the media’s opinion of him.

Heading into this year’s College Football Playoff final, the Ducks will once again need a high level of production from Tyner.

Freshman Royce Freeman is undoubtedly the future and will always play a key role. However, Tyner will have to lead the way against a stout Ohio State defensive line if the Ducks want to cap off the season with their first ever title win.

“To have him out there, it gives the defense different looks out there, things that will reset the table” said Freeman.

With his return, teammates have been optimistic about what Tyner can bring to the offense on game day against the Buckeyes. Oregon’s had no shortage of production from their running backs, but Tyner gives them a look that few teams in the country have: a 1-2 punch with breakaway speed and power.

“He showed a lot of impact last game,” Freeman said. “It’s great to have him back. I mean, we’re pretty versatile out there. Just a lot of combinations we’re doing offensively. Grateful to have him back there.”

His teammates are, for good reason, excited and looking forward to see what Tyner can do in his second game back.

“When you have two great backs, they really feed off each other, so to have Thomas really at full health will really make our offense that much better. He’s been a great asset for us and looking forward to good things out of him,” said redshirt junior quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Regardless of whether or not Tyner receives any more starts moving forward, the Ducks fully understand his importance to the team’s success. Since day one, Tyner has been a hot commodity among the talented Oregon roster and it’s for good reason: the guy can run with the best of them and make it look easy.

“Tyner came back and did his thing,” redshirt senior defensive back Troy Hill said. “We always knew Tyner could do it: when he wants to go, he can go. That was big time. He’s a big time player and that’s what we expect from him, nothing less.”

Even if Tyner doesn’t blow up the stat sheet against the Buckeyes on Monday night, his Rose Bowl performance will stand as one of the best when the 2014-2015 season comes to an end.

Tyner may not speak much, but his game speaks volumes, something the Ducks are hoping to see again.

“After that performance, he seemed like his normal self,” Hill said. “I didn’t really pay attention to the outside stuff because I always knew he was a good football player whenever he wanted it.”

Follow Hayden Kim on Twitter @HayDayKim


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Hayden Kim

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