Waiting to get back in the game

— -- (Editor's note: Oregon running back Reuben Droughns will share a weekly diary with ESPN.com throughout the season. For more information on the Ducks, visit the official Oregon site.)

Oct. 7, 1999

Having to sit out these last few weeks has been pretty rough. Coming in my senior year I was planning on playing the whole season and being healthy, but that's not how it's happened since the freak accident against USC. It's a tough thing to go through because you want to be giving it your all and play no matter what you want.

UCLA's Danny Farmer:
Record is small consolation
Oregon's Reuben Droughns:
Waiting to get back in the game
Oklahoma's Bob Stoops:
Forget Irish; bring on 'Horns
Oregon State's Ken Simonton:
Can't let another slip away
Ole Miss' Todd Wade:
Climbing to the top 25
Wyoming's Jared Jarnagin:
Defense was the key

I had to go through a serious injury against UCLA last year, but it's a little different this year. At least I know I'm coming back, and that makes a big difference mentally. At the same time, it's also different because I went into last year more confident, while this year I was more tentative early, trying to overcome last year's injury. Basically, I need to go out there and work hard to overcome that. Whenever I play next, it'll be a little bit of a guessing game to see where I'm actually at. There's always that question during this transition period, should I give it all I have, or should I save a little bit for the future. Regardless, I want to give it all every play.

Especially this weekend. Being down in L.A. I really would like to play there and show the fans down there I'm not a faker after having to miss the end of last year's game. It's also another important game in deciding the Pac-10 title. There isn't a lot of time left either this year, and I still have the desire to help this team win.

At the same time, the other running backs have been really working hard and doing their best to keep the team moving forward. The expectations are really high for those guys, so it's not an easy job. The best running backs in the country can be stopped by certain types of defenses, so there's a lot of things that goes into having a great game, not just your own speed, size, whatever.

A reporter asked me today about running backs and how much freedom we have to pick our own spots when we carry the ball. You can't tell the running back where to run, because it's happening so fast a lot of times you're on your own. If you watch Barry Sanders, he'll lose five yards sometimes, but you still have to give him the freedom to call what he wants to run, because that same thing lets him break one the next time. The coaches and linemen here are great in that they let me do what I need to do. It's the same way with Derien (Latimer) and the other guys, they just run.