Yes, they had seen him do it plenty in practice behind Freeman, but mostly they all knew that Brooks-James tended to do nothing quietly or slowly.
"He's always yelling when he's trying to normally talk," offensive guard Cam Hunt said. "He has a hard time with his inside voice. And whispering -- anything that's really low toned -- he has a hard time."
"Sometimes he starts going and you have no idea what he's saying," running back Kani Benoit said. "He speaks so fast that you can't keep up with it. He needs one of those little drops balls at the bottom of the screen -- you know, like the musicals, where they have the bouncy ball on the bottom. Sometimes Tony needs that."
So, no one on the Ducks' sideline was taken aback when Brooks-James rushed for four touchdowns and 157 on just 23 carries in those two games against the Cornhuskers and Buffs (6.8 yards per carry; one touchdown per every six carries).
In fact, the player who was actually the most pleasantly surprised by the performance was Brooks-James himself.
He said that he felt confident going into both games, but that there were a few lingering questions in his head about how he would handle the weight of it all when he was the guy for Oregon.
"It's one thing to take reps of it in a practice," Brooks-James said. "But it's another to actually do it in a game when the pressure is on and a million things are going through your head and you've just gotta do that one thing, and that one thing could be the difference between losing a game and winning a game."
Oregon running back coach Gary Campbell wasn't surprised to hear that Brooks-James felt that way. He has led several young running backs through that exact process in Eugene, many of whom went on to have starring roles within the offense.
"Young guys are always a little bit leery when they're taking on a bigger role, but once they get going and they've got the talent, they're OK," Campbell said. "I think that was the case with him."
This weekend against Washington State, Campbell said he expects Freeman -- who has been practicing "full go" this week -- to be back in action, meaning Brooks-James will be back in supporting role.
But, he said he's excited to see what kind of competition this season brings. Freeman -- and the Oregon running back depth -- was actually one of the reasons why Brooks-James ultimately picked the Ducks during his recruitment. He said he "didn't want to go to a place where they'd just give it to me because I wouldn't have earned it and then you don't treasure it as much. … If you go somewhere where it's given to you, then you're not going to compete as well as someone who's working for it."
And already this season Brooks-James has proved -- both quickly and loudly -- how ready he is to not only compete, but also contribute.