Oregon’s Troy Dye has lived up to his expectations as a middle linebacker this season. A year after being placed in the wrong position (outside linebacker) on a struggling defense, the sophomore has found his rhythm in the middle of the field for Jim Leavitt.
Over the first few weeks of the season, we evaluated the entire Oregon team and highlighted each player that stood out on game day. Now that it’s conference season, we will select an individual player/group to evaluate from the previous Duck game.
OREGON’S 2017 RESUME
- (5-4, 2-4)
- 35.6 PPG
- 320 TOTAL POINTS
- 29.2 PA
- 28.2 MOV
- 4,009 TOTAL YARDS
- 445.4 TOTAL YPG
- 189.3 PASS YPG
- 11 PASS TD
- 30 RUSH TD
- 256.1 RUSH YPG
- 5.2 YPC
- 28:03 AVG TOP
- 44-for-44 XP
- 4-for-6 FG
- 369.6 YAPG
- 7 INT
- 30 SACKS
- 68 TFL
- 51 PD
- 6 FF
- 7 FR
- 1 SPECIAL TEAMS TD
Key Players: Royce Freeman (1,240 YDS, 10 TD) and Troy Dye (80 TKL, 11 TFL, 4 SACKS)
- Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley had his hands full with Dye on Saturday, especially when he was ‘spying’ on the dual-threat QB. Interestingly enough, on the Utes’ first third down (3rd and 4) Dye stepped up to chase Huntley who looked like he was going to tuck and run. Instead, he took a step back and fired across the middle to his receiver that just passed in front of the eyes of Oregon’s middle linebacker. Like most teams, Utah was taking their cues from the movements of Dye.
- The Utes tried to get tricky with an end around toss on their opening drive. The Duck defense wasn’t buying it, especially Dye who came around the right end with reckless abandon. With the big stop, he recorded his first of 2.5 TFL on the day.
- On the first Oregon sack of the day, Jonah Moi was enabled the time to reach Huntley in the backfield because Dye’s coverage was so solid in the middle. He did not exit the middle to run with a receiver, zoning in on the eyes of Huntley. Dye forced the QB to hold, thus giving Moi his opportunity. The play resulted in a fourth down and punt.
- Even with the offense handing Utah great field position to start a drive following a turnover, the UO defense would not budge, especially Dye. Once again, the MLB was in the middle of the action on 2nd and Goal. The California kid embraced the contact, shed a blocker and simply applied the pressure to bring down the running back.
- He has an innate ability to find the ball. Quite simply, he’s a ballhawk. Additionally, Dye is very intelligent and a good communicator which helps him place his teammates in the correct position on most plays.
- Midway through the second quarter, Dye was reading the eyes of Huntley as usual. However, Dye became impatient and made his move to the left sideline anticipating his chosen receiver. Yet, when Huntley saw Dye make this dive to a specific player, he simply tucked the ball and ran the opposite way for a big pickup. When Dye remains on an island in the middle of the field in zone coverage with help behind him, the quarterback must remain inside the pocket and is forced to look to the perimeter.
- The Ducks were called for pass interference (Justin Hollins) because of the play action fake by Utah. It was a read-option pass that both Dye and Hollins bit on, each taking one step forward. This allowed Darren Carrington to sneak behind them in the slot in between the hash marks. Now, he didn’t make a catch on this particular play but it gave them a first down after the penalty and it opened Utah’s playbook for this area of the field.
- As you know, Carrington finished his day with nine catches for 160 yards on a game-high 16 targets. Utah exploited the middle of the field, in between the hashmarks, routinely after this play occurred. When Dye and the UO defense were successful on plays, he was staying disciplined and not biting the play fakes.
- A read option that Huntley took for himself to run, Dye read before he faked seemingly. It was incredible to see Dye head to the ‘B gap’ of the offense where Huntley eventually chose to run through. He wasn’t getting by Dye, as the sophomore undressed the play pre-snap. He’s been doing this all season.
- On more than a few occasions, Dye rushed the QB on a delayed blitz. The sophomore continually illustrates his intelligence within the defensive concept. Not only does he understand the defense but he can quickly digest the play pre-snap, which helps him communicate with teammates. Even when he’s trailing the play, he has speed to catchup with the ball carrier, no matter their size or strength.
- It was impressive on a play that Dye faked the edge blitz. When he did so, Huntley dashed the opposite direction down the sideline. He had a 15-yard head start on Dye, but somehow the MLB tracked him down some 35 yards down field just short of the goal line. He continually exhibits the effort and skill it takes to play on Sunday’s.
- Not only did Dye prevent the touchdown on the previous play, but on the very next play he nearly intercepted a pass and took it the distance (99 yards). Yet, he broke up the pass in one-on-one coverage at the goal line. You can’t ask for much more from your best defender with no help behind him.
- The goal line stand continued when Dye wrapped up the ball carrier on third down. So, he stopped the TD on one play, then prevented scores on the next two of three plays and forced a desperate fourth down attempt. The Ducks almost escaped 1st and Goal from the 1-yard line but this was the possession that the Utah offensive lineman came down with the weirdest catch of the season. The ball apparently touched the turf when he was on his back in the end zone, but the score stood. Regardless, Dye was in the middle of every play on the possession. Regardless of the fact that Utah scored, this drive embodied how dominant and controlling Dye was in this game.
- Overall, Dye tied for a game-high 11 tackles (5 solo) with Utah’s strong safety Chase Hansen. No. 35 for Oregon registered 2.5 TFL and one pass deflection in another stellar effort. When he stays balanced and disciplined this defense is scary, especially vs the run. This was one of his best games of the season, adding to his impressive ‘17 resume.
The Ducks (5-4, 2-4) head to Seattle this weekend for a rematch against No. 12 Washington (7-1, 4-1). Nobody needs a reminder of what happened last year in Eugene. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. PT on Saturday from Husky Stadium via FS1.