Predicting 2023: Bucky Irving's 1,500-yard season
As we charge full steam into 2023, The I-5 Corridor offers up our predictions for the coming year.
Predicting 2023 is a series that will run on The I-5 Corridor over the next two weeks featuring stories with our predictions for the upcoming year. Today we start with Oregon running back Bucky Irving’s quest for 1,500 yards. Keep an eye out next week for predictions on the Oregon State Beavers and Portland Timbers.
It’s January 13th, the Oregon Ducks football season ended weeks ago and for the most part everyone has shifted their focus to next fall.
While the end of the 2022 regular season didn’t exactly end Oregon’s way, between a Holiday Bowl win over North Carolina, a stellar recruiting class signed, Bo Nix’s return and the hiring of the seemingly popular Will Stein as offensive coordinator, the Ducks do have a fair amount of momentum heading into one of the most anticipated Pac-12 seasons in memory.
Just think of all the people returning to the conference:
Michael Penix Jr.
But we’re going to pause for just a moment to make sure we don’t forget about Bucky. Frankly, we might be kicking ourselves a few years down the road if we don’t.
See, Irving just polished off one of the most underrated seasons by a running back in Oregon program history. No, he didn’t flirt with 2,000 yards like LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner a decade ago. Nor was he a touchdown machine like Royce Freeman’s four years in Eugene. He didn’t even top 200 yards in a single game like CJ Verdell did multiple times in his career.
Irving only rushed for 1,055 yards in 2022. He found the end zone five times and never rushed for more than 149 yards. Now, 149 yards in a game is plenty — but it also wouldn’t hold a candle to some of the most extreme single-game performances in Oregon history. Longtime readers might remember a story I wrote back at The Athletic that made an argument for Verdell as one of Oregon’s better backs due to his ability to take over any single game. In bursts, Verdell was every bit as deadly as James, Barner and the best of them.
But Verdell is no Irving.