Oregon’s 2016 Most Outstanding Player was Troy Dye on the defensive side. His remarkable true freshman season was highlighted by a Pac-12 Player of the Week honor after his first collegiate game.
We are just 38 days away from Oregon’s first game against Southern Utah on Saturday, September 2 at Autzen Stadium.
Here are my projections for the defensive and offensive starters of Willie Taggart’s 2017-18 team. Let’s get caught up with what you missed:
JIM LEAVITT’S 11
SAFETY - Brenden Schooler (Monday)
CORNERBACK - Arrion Springs (Tuesday)
STARTING LINEBACKER, TROY DYE
In the 2016 season opener, the Norco, Calif. native registered 11 tackles, 4.5 for loss, a sack and a blocked field goal amid UO’s 53-28 victory vs UC Davis. That was his first taste of college football. Two days later, he was awarded the POW honor by the conference. Not bad for a debut.
The freshman amplified his first performance with a MVP-type season. He was named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) freshman All-America team after leading the country in tackles among newcomers. He was the lone brightspot on UO’s defense.
Dye concluded his incredible campaign with a team-high 91 tackles. He also led the team in tackles for loss (13) and sacks (6.5). The freshman added an interception and a blocked field goal.
Interestingly enough, his only pick came agaisnst his current defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and the Colorado Buffaloes. Dye amassed a career-high 14 tackles in Berkeley against the Cal Bears during a double ovetime loss.
Leavitt has many surprises in store for the Pac-12 with his usage of Dye this upcoming season. He is going to play the sophomore linebacker everywhere on the field and the Cali kid is going to stack up the stats. The most important aspect of the 2017 season will be getting off the field on third down. Getting his team off the field leads to W’s.
Dye told Oregon Live in April that everyone is excited about the new coaching staff. Head coach Willie Taggart, alongside Leavitt, brings a different energy to Oregon football. It’s becoming contagious in Eugene.
“We're excited to get out here and show what we have on this first day," said Dye. “You can tell just walking through the building, all the coaches have an uplifting energy, everybody else wants to be here. We're really looking forward to this season.”
THE FINAL VERDICT
Dye is going to have another massive season. He will lead the defense in tackles with over 100. He will have 20+ tackles for loss, including a career-high seven sacks. The man in the middle will force three fumbles, recover one and Dye will house his lone interception of the year. Big things ahead.