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Oregon RB Tyner returns to full strength

LOS ANGELES —This was supposed to be Thomas Tyner’s time to shine for Oregon.

After the 2013 season, De’Anthony Thomas moved on to the NFL, and Byron Marshall was moved to slot receiver.

Entering the College Football Playoff, Tyner has taken a back seat to Royce Freeman in the backfield.

“It is not the season I expected, but it has been a great season,” Tyner said during the Rose Bowl media day event on Monday. “Looking at it as a team, what we accomplished so far, it has been a great season. Being in this program is very unique, and not a lot of people get that opportunity, so you definitely have to take advantage of that.”

Tyner had 115 carries for 711 yards (6.9 per attempt) and nine touchdowns as a true freshman. This season he has 88 rushing attempts for 387 yards (4.4 per attempt) and three touchdowns in nine games.

The talented sophomore from Aloha is practicing at full strength again after missing the Civil War and Pac-12 championship game due to injuries.

“I’m feeling healthy and I’m ready to come back,” Tyner said. “(The season) has had its ups and downs. I’ve had injuries and I’m definitely not where I wanted to be, but as a team it has been a good season, so I’m enjoying myself.”

Freeman leads the Ducks with 1,299 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns.

Offensive coordinator Scott Frost has leaned on the 6-0, 229-pound true freshman, who has 230 carries.

Marcus Mariota is second on the team with 669 yards and 14 touchdowns. Marshall has 383 yards and a touchdown on only 50 carries (7.7 yards per attempt).

“Whether it is Royce or myself, or all the other weapons we have, it is important for us to all be in the game plan, all contribute to the offense,” Tyner said.

Freeman rushed for 135 yards in the 47-19 win at Oregon State and for 114 yards in the 52-13 victory over Arizona in the Pac-12 championship.

The stretch run to the Rose Bowl was bittersweet for Tyner.

“It has been very upsetting, having to sit and watch is something nobody wants to do,” Tyner said. “You want to get on the field, and that is the way I felt the whole time I was out. I am just excited now to get back out there.”

Oregon enters the national semifinal against Florida State ranked 20th nationally in rushing offense (237.3 ypg). The Seminoles allow 160.1 yards rushing per game, which ranks 56th nationally.

The Hollywood spotlight has been on Mariota and quarterback counterpart Jameis Winston. The Ducks’ depth in the backfield could make the difference in helping Oregon’s Heisman Trophy winner advance to the national championship.

“They’re fast, strong and big. They’re good up front,” Tyner said of Florida State’s defense. “It will be a good game. They will test our offense.”