Lyerla Recharges Backfield

With the running game stymied by the Arizona defense, head coach Chip Kelly went to an unexpected source to recharge his backfield: sophomore tight end Colt Lyerla.

EUGENE, Ore.-Lyerla and backup quarterback Bryan Bennett made up a new power running package that allowed the 6-5 246 pounder the opportunity to take snaps as a running back. The result was two rushing touchdowns for the duo and 63 yards on 9 carries for the surprisingly elusive power back.

"It's been joked about for a while, I think one day Chip just took it seriously," Lyerla said. "He [Kelly] put me in for a few reps and liked what he saw."

Despite his own admissions (or lack thereof), apparently it was Lyerla himself who had brought it up.

"Colt has always claimed he's a running back. He always comes to the running back meeting asking to get in," said senior running back Kenjon Barner.

Lyerla has plenty of experience to back up those claims, as a prep he lined up almost primarily in the backfield for Hillsboro posting more than 1500 yards in each of his final seasons.

Despite that, Lyerla admits that it took him a few practices to regain his comfort at the position after beginning drills with the running backs last Monday.

"I was just getting refreshed on taking handoffs and the mesh. Obviously I still need to work on that," he said, referencing a touchdown in which he and Bennett rolled into the end zone together.

If Lyerla is able to retain that roll it could restore a dimension of the running game that has been absent since LaGarrette Blount's departure two years ago. According to Barner, "there's no reason he can't be" that player.

"He's an absolute animal. Guys didn't want to tackle him and I could see why. He ran like a maniac," Barner said. "I wouldn't want to tackle him. I'm glad he's on our team."

Where he'll line up in the future is yet to be determined. Lyerla gave mixed opinions of which position he prefers, saying, "he for sure" felt more comfortable in the backfield, but also adding that tight end "is definitely where I belong".

You'll just have to tune in Saturday as the Ducks take on the Washington State Cougars to find out.

MONDAY NOTABLE QUOTABLES:

Colt Lyerla

On he and Bennett's tandem touchdown:

"On all the zone reads he had handed it off, which was why I wasn't expecting him to pull it on that one."

Kenjon Barner

On facing WSU after the concussion:

"That was two years ago. Two years ago."


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