Noah Whittington won't be easily replaced, but Dan Lanning likes Oregon's options
Noah Whittington won’t be available this weekend against Stanford, and if Dan Lanning’s comments after the Colorado win are any indication, he might not be back anytime soon.
Whittington had eight carries for 45 yards and a touchdown before exiting Saturday’s game. He was carted off the field late in the third quarter with an apparent lower leg injury. After the game, Lanning said, “There are bright days ahead for Noah, I just don’t know that we’ll have him here for the next few weeks.”
When he met with reporters on Monday, he was asked if the Ducks would be able to get by just using Bucky Irving and Jordan James or if they’d need to introduce a third back into the rotation to fill Whittington’s absence.
“It takes what it takes, right?” Lanning said. “I’m really pleased with the guys that we have in that room. I know we can get it done with the guys in that room. We’ll see how people’s role will grow in the next few weeks as we adapt and adjust based on that.”
Lanning often says if a player is good enough, they’re old enough. He’s unafraid to throw a freshman to the fire if he and the Oregon staff think that player can contribute to winning football games.
With Bucky Irving as the top option in the run game and Jordan James a capable No. 2, Oregon could choose to elevate Dante Dowdell or Jayden Limar — both freshmen.
Dowdell has carried the ball 11 times for 58 yards and a touchdown this season. Limar has 10 carries for 52 yards and a score. The 5-foot-11 Limar also has five catches for 25 yards this season.
The Ducks are the top rushing offense in college football thus far, averaging 7.0 yards per carry. They’ll face a Stanford team this weekend that ranks 88th in run defense. After facing the Cardinal, Oregon will move into its bye week. Perhaps the coaching staff chooses to roll with a deeper rotation in Week 5 in order to get a feel for who steps up in different roles.
“Those guys hurt for (Whittington),” Lanning said of the room. “But they also know next guy up. ‘How am I going to take advantage of this opportunity to make sure I don’t let our team down in his absence?’ We’re going to miss Noah. You don’t just replace Noah with another player, especially his demeanor and his work ethic. But we’ve got some great backs in that room that are ready to fill those shoes.”