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2019 Oregon Ducks Spring Preview: Running Back

NCAA Football: Oregon at Oregon State Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks will begin spring practice in short order with the Spring Game coming on April 20th. How will the Ducks shake out on the depth chart during spring camp? Will there be any impact freshmen looking to take jobs from the upperclassmen? Today we will take a look at the running back room.

2018 Depth Chart

1. C.J. Verdell 5’9 201 RS Freshman

2. Travis Dye 5’10 197 Freshman

3. Tony Brooks-James 5’9 190 Senior

4. Cyrus Habibi-Likio 6’1 210 RS Freshman

5. Darrian Felix 5’11 191 Sophomore

What happened during the season?

  • Coming into the 2018 season, Tony Brooks-James was the logical heir to current Denver Bronco Royce Freeman. Well, that changed rather significantly as he was relegated to third string reps and special team duties.
  • TBJ just couldn’t shake the fumble issues as it was a near weekly thing with him on kick returns so much so that the Nice Things Chart reverted to the Weekly TBJ Critical Fumble Chart. As an indirect turnover issues, he was lightly used in the running attack, losing huge reps to a pair of freshmen that hadn’t logged a college carry before.
  • C.J. Verdell took the reins as the lead back with 202 carries for 1,018 yards and 10 touchdowns. Verdell had issues due to inexperience with running into blocked lanes aka the Trent Richardson Syndrome. He also flashed a ton of potential as a first time starter so there’s that.
  • Dye 2.0 aka Travis surprisingly took over the backup duties after entering fall camp fourth on the depth chart at best. He brought a new dimension to the Oregon offense previously unseen since the heyday of LaMichael James and DAT: pure unadulterated speed. A perfect change of pace back for Verdell’s “slower” workhorse strategy. Posted 140 carries for 739 yards and four touchdowns.
  • The Ducks’ human victory cigar, Cyrus Habibi-Likio appeared in 12 games, scoring a whopping seven touchdowns in just 18 carries. Granted, most of those carries came near the goal line but still.

2019 Depth Chart (Pre-Spring)

1. Verdell RS Sophomore

2. Dye Sophomore

3. Habibi-Likio RS Sophomore

4. Darrian Felix Junior

What happened during the offseason and what can we expect?

  • Tony Brooks-James saw his college eligibility expire and thus is no longer part of the program.
  • Hopefully the Weekly Fumble and Backbreaking Drops Chart left with TBJ. Reportedly, JPDX is looking for it as the Pacific Northwest needs some warmth in this cold and dreary winter malaise.
  • Verdell enters the spring as the unquestioned starter after taking over as a redshirt freshman. Nothing new to see here.
  • Dye has proven to be a capable backup so he’s pretty much set as the RB2 unless either CHL and Felix can knock him off that role.
  • Felix is reportedly the fastest running back on the roster according to Kayvon Thibodeaux’s IG story (it’s not official until it’s Instagram Official). I’d love to see Marcus Arroyo implement some screens and option plays to utilize his speed in space during the spring.
  • It will be interesting how many reps that CHL can get during the spring with the departure of TBJ. He clearly has a defined role as the goal line back. I want to see some expansion of his game, whether that would be more carries or even a third down role.
  • These four backs are the guys in the RB room until the freshmen such as Sean Dollars and Jayvaun Wilson (he’s an athlete but can play running back and/or receiver) come in during the summer.

Post Spring Prediction

1. CJ Verdell

2. Travis Dye

3. Darrian Felix

4. Cyrus Habibi-Likio

5. Sean Dollars (redshirt)