EUGENE — Oregon running backs coach Gary Campbell has the best problem in college football.
He has to find some carries for De'Anthony Thomas.
The electrifying Thomas, who has been powerless to help the No. 2 Ducks over the past four weeks, is expected to be plugged back into the lineup this Saturday against No. 12 UCLA at Autzen Stadium (4 p.m., ESPN).
Since Thomas was sidelined with a sprained ankle sustained while returning the opening kickoff Sept. 28 against California, Byron Marshall has produced four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, and Thomas Tyner has emerged as a reliable threat running, receiving and even in pass protection.
"We've only got one football," Campbell said when asked about splitting the workload for the three-headed monster in the backfield. "We will kind of try to pass it around and get as many of these guys handling it as possible."
Through the first three games, Thomas carried the ball 42 times for 338 yards (8.0 per attempt) with six touchdowns. The junior might have been able to compete with Marcus Mariota in the Heisman Trophy race at that pace.
Now Marshall leads Oregon's rushing attack with 746 yards (106.6 per game) and nine touchdowns. The sophomore had 192 yards and three touchdowns during the Ducks' 62-38 victory over Washington State.
"It's a funny thing, you never know just exactly how good a guy is who's standing in the wings until he has to get out on the football field," Campbell said. "We knew Byron was talented, that's why we recruited him, and when called upon he performed like we thought he would. I just think he needed an opportunity to get out there and get some reps. Same with Tyner. He's going to be a great football player, we just need to get him some reps."
Tyner, a true freshman, has 360 yards and seven touchdowns this season. He has the look of a future star, but this week's depth chart lists Thomas or Marshall for the No. 1 spot.
"I don't sit on the sideline and count the reps; I can't do that. I'd like to get Tyner involved in the game, I'd like to keep Byron involved in the game and of course we want De'Anthony to play as well," Campbell said. "Only one guy can start, and that guy will be determined in practice throughout the week."
Aliotti focused on UCLA
Nick Aliotti was back in front of the microphones and cameras again Tuesday.
Oregon's defensive coordinator did not want to talk about being reprimanded and fined $5,000 by the Pac-12 after making derogatory comments last week about officials and Washington State coach Mike Leach.
"I'm not going to talk about anything but the UCLA Bruins," Aliotti said.
Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said Aliotti's defensive line will need a "huge game" to contain UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. The redshirt sophomore has accounted for 324.7 yards per game for the Bruins offense, which has averaged 39.8 points per game this season.
"I don't think he's as fast as Marcus (Mariota), but he's a real strong guy," Aliotti said of the 6-foot-3, 222-pound Hundley. "He's more elusive and fast than you think, so he can extend plays with his feet. Whenever a quarterback can do that, just like our guy, it's tough."
The Ducks hung tough during Connor Halliday's record-setting passing barrage. Washington State's quarterback completed 58 of 89 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns, but Oregon also intercepted Halliday four times and sacked him four times.
"Halliday did a heck of a job throwing the ball; he's a good athlete, he's a good player," said Aliotti said. "He didn't try to scramble, so we kept him in the pocket. I think this week we've got a little different guy."
Aliotti said defensive tackle Arik Armstead, who did not have a tackle against Washington State, is dealing with an arm injury.
Respect for Mora
Aliotti apologized Sunday night for saying Leach was "low class" for keeping Halliday in the game during the fourth quarter, when he threw two late touchdowns against Oregon reserves.
Helfrich had nothing but praise for UCLA counterpart Jim Mora.
"Coach Mora, I have a ton of respect for him. Every interaction I've had with him, he's a very impressive guy, a high-class guy," Helfrich said. "They've done a great job there."
The Bruins, who have represented the South Division in the Pac-12 championship game the past two seasons, appear to have a bright future.
Mora has already played a program record 17 freshmen this season. Right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Caleb Benenoch both started on UCLA's offensive line against Stanford's stout defensive front last week.
"There's a lot of young talent, similar to us," Helfrich said. "They've had a couple of injuries up front (on offense) but they're very talented. This is a very deep team on both sides of the ball. They've played a bunch of guys on the offensive line, but I see that as a strength when a bunch of those guys have gotten game experience."