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The opponent’s view: Dion Jordan working hard for Ducks

Dion Jordan

Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan spreads his wings vs. Oregon State last season. Photo by Jim Z. Rider-US PRESSWIRE

(Here is a story from Gary Horowitz of the Salem (Ore.) Statesman Journal, one of our Gannett partners. For coverage of the Arizona’s opponent this week, check out Statesman Journal’s Oregon Ducks’ page.)

By Gary Horowitz

EUGENE — The numbers have been modest thus far for senior defensive end Dion Jordan, but that’s primarily because in two of Oregon’s first three games he only played about a half of football.

That’s about to change beginning with Saturday’s Pac-12 opener against No. 22 Arizona.

“It doesn’t matter who we play,” Jordan said. “There’s no flipping on and off. You have to come to work every day.”

At 6-foot-7, 243-pounds, Jordan uses his height and speed on the edge to make life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. He’s second on the team thus far with 14 tackles, including three stops for losses and two sacks.

Jordan had a team-high 13 tackles for loss and 7 ½ sacks last season and was named first-team all-Pac-12.

“He has really developed into a special player. He is a dominant defensive player,” coach Chip Kelly said. “The way you see him play on Saturdays is what we see Monday through Friday. He approaches practice every day the same way he approaches a game.”

Third running back emerging: In three non-conference games, Oregon has addressed what was a preaseason concern: depth at running back.

Byron Marshall became the third true freshman in the past three seasons to have a 100-yard rushing game with a game-high 125 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown in last Saturday’s 63-14 rout of Tennessee Tech.

“I had a good week of practice,” Marshall said. “So I just thought I’d come out and play hard.”

There likely won’t be as many opportunities ahead for Marshall beginning with the Arizona game, but he’s ready if needed. Marshall is the Ducks’ third-leading rusher behind Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas with 189 yards on 37 carries (5.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.

With the transfer of Tra Carson to Texas A&M, Oregon needed to develop a third running back this season.

“I thought Byron has really progressed since he got here,” Kelly said. “We’re really happy with just some of the decisions he made on Saturday carrying the ball. I really think he’s got a big, big upside.”

With this being Barner’s senior year and sophomore Thomas in more of an all-purpose back role, Marshall could be a major factor next season. He’ll have company.

Oregon has a verbal commitment from Aloha High School senior Thomas Tyner, who set a state record Friday with 644 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in an 84-63 win against Lakeridge.

Kicking issues?: The Ducks haven’t needed to attempt many field goals this season because their offense has been so potent, but Rob Beard has missed both of his attempts. He had a 25-yard field goal blocked in the Tennessee Tech game and failed to convert from 35 yards in the season opener against Arkansas State.

Beard is 22 for 22 on extra points.

“It’s the same unit that kicks extra points all the time, so if we had three or four extra points blocked then I think that would be a concern for us,” Kelly said.

By the numbers: Oregon ranks fifth nationally in scoring (54.0 points per game), seventh in total offense (596.3 yards per game), and fourth in rushing (329.0 ypg).

Marcus Mariota has completed 58 of 77 passes (75.3 percent) for 675 yards and eight touchdowns with one interception. He is 10th in the nation in passing efficiency.

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