Johnny Ragin III

Oregon linebacker Troy Dye expected to play vs. No. 5 Washington

Oregon linebacker Troy Dye expected to play vs. No. 5 Washington

Oregon freshman linebacker Troy Dye is expected to return to action this week when the Ducks host No. 5 Washington, according to sources. 

Dye missed last week's loss at Washington State with a concussion. Two weeks ago at Nebraska, Dye was limited to special teams while dealing with being ill. 

Dye is already the team's best and most reliable playmaker, and the benefits of his will be magnified by the loss of senior linebacker Johnny Ragin III for the season. 

Despite missing so much time, Dye is tied for third on the team with 27 tackles and leads the team with 5 1/2 tackles for loss. His two sacks are tied for the team lead with redshirt sophomore defensive end Jalen Jelks, who has missed the team's last three games with an injury. Jelks is doubtful for this week. 

When Dye missed the team's trip to WSU on Saturday, some outside of the program seeking controversy wondered if he had been disciplined for committing a transgression. Oregon coach Mark Helfrich addressed that rumor on Tuesday.

"There's no discipline of any kind," Helfrich said. "I don't know how this got out there. If a guy is disciplined we'll announce it and make a note. By the same token, we don't talk about injuries and availability, so you can probably put two and two together on that one." 

Translation: Dye was injured. 

Unique true freshman graces Oregon's starting lineup

Unique true freshman graces Oregon's starting lineup

EUGENE - If you're looking for an example of what Oregon's new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke is looking for in a player look no further than freshman linebacker Troy Dye

He's raw. He's inexperienced. But none of that matters right now to Hoke because Dye is also fast, fierce, aggressive and seeking to wreak havoc on every snap. 

“If I’m going to do it wrong, I’m going to do it wrong 100 percent,” Dye said. “That’s what coach Hoke really wants. If you’re going to go full speed, go full speed. If you’re not, go take a seat. It’s just that simple.”

It doesn't appear as if Dye will be doing much sitting this season. He is the only true freshman listed as a starter on the team's initial depth chart after he beat out backup, redshirt junior Jonah Moi.  

Dye will make his college debut Saturday when No. 24 Oregon hosts UC Davis at 2 p.m.

It's somewhat unusual for a freshman to enter a season as a starter for a program of Oregon's caliber. Dye, as it so happens, is an unusual player. 

Consider that a year ago he was a 6-foot-4, 195-pound safety/linebacker for Norcross High School (Norcross, Calif.). During the recruiting process, Oregon defensive backs coach John Neal and linebackers coach Don Pellum told Dye he could have a say in what position he played at Oregon. 

He arrived on campus in December after graduating early and immediately began packing on pounds. With help from strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe and the Ducks’ nutrition staff, Dye said he was able to maximize his workouts and add bulk to reach 225 by spring.

“It’s been a really good thing to have all of these people and all these assets that I’ve really taken advantage of to really help me put this weight on,” Dye said.

The extra pounds, Dye said, gave him the confidence to try linebacker where he was more needed given the team’s depth at safety. Oregon lost all four starting linebackers from last season to graduation. 

So, Dye added weight. He's athletic. Blah, blah, blah. But could he play the game from the neck up? As it turns out, he could and then some. 

Dye said his father taught his children the intricacies of several sports while raising them. Dye’s older brother, Tony Dye played safety for UCLA and played two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals.  He is the defensive coordinator at Norcross where he coached his younger brother.

Learning the details of how to play defense, study film, dissect information at a higher level than most high school players helped rapidly increase Troy Dye’s aptitude for the game.

“So when I got here it was pretty easy to transition…” Dye said. “Having those two in my corner has been really great.”

Redshirt junior safety Tyree Robinson said Dye has brought a lot of energy to the defense.

“Every single day he comes in ready to take notes," Robinson said. "He wants to get better. You don’t see that from the average freshman coming in.”

Senior linebacker Johnny Ragin III said he has been impressed with Dye's attention to detail and intensity.  

“Troy has caught on pretty quick to everything we’ve been doing and he just plays with great effort and passion so that kind of makes up for any mistakes,” Ragin said.

Hoke said he has no problem starting a freshman if he is the best player at his position. But Hoke indicated that Dye isn’t nearly a finished product.

“He’s probably a little more finesse right now than he will be a year from now,” Hoke said.

That's because Dye is still on the lighter side at 225, especially given his height. Moi is listed at 250 pounds. 

By this time next year Dye could be pushing 240. Until then, he will have to rely more on his athleticism, something that has opened eyes during practice on a daily basis. 

"I can't wait to see him play real life football because he's been awesome," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. 

According to Helfrich, several young players have "juiced the depth chart" by pushing veterans, and Dye is one of them. 

But he recognizes that his status as a starter could be tenuous. Oregon rotates its defenders. Moi will certainly have a chance to state his case on a weekly basis. That fact pushes Dye to continue improving. 

“I know that Jonah Moi or anybody else could fill in and play and do the same things I can do," Dye said. 

"So I’m always fighting everyday to keep this spot. It’s a great competition. We all hang out, we all love each other. It doesn’t matter who is going to be the starter. We’re all voting for each other at the end of the day and we’re all happy.”

So what should we expect to see from Dye on Saturdays? Plenty of electricity. 

“You’re going to see a lot of speed," he said, "a lot of physicality out of me doing my best to help the team win."

Roses or Roulette?: Ducks Preview Part 6 - Linebackers in flux

Roses or Roulette?: Ducks Preview Part 6 - Linebackers in flux

College football is back! The Ducks begin fall camp on Monday so we're breaking down each position to determine if the Ducks, picked to finish fifth in the Pac-12, and their fans will be smelling roses as Pac-12 champs during a trip to the Rose Bowl, or placing bets at a roulette table prior to watching a sixth-place UO team in the Las Vegas Bowl. Each position is graded using the poker hand scale.  

Today: Linebackers. 

Projected starters: Redshirt junior middle linebacker Danny Mattingly (6-5, 245), senior outside linebacker Johnny Ragin III (6-3, 225) and junior outside linebacker Jimmy Swain (6-2, 235).

Key backups: Junior (transfer) middle linebacker A.J. Hotchkins (6-0, 235), redshirt sophomore Justin Hollins (6-6, 230), redshirt junior Jonah Moi (6-4, 250) and senior De'Quan McDowell (6-1, 203). 

Smelling like roses: Oregon must hit on all three new starters in order to have a chance at contending in the Pac-12. Mattingly has the most overall game experience within the group, followed by Ragin. That's bad news considering Mattingly had 25 tackles last season and Ragin had 20 while Swain contributed a modest 15. This doesn't mean that trio couldn't combine for 225 tackles this season. It just means that they remain a mystery. Mattingly so much so that he could be challenged heavily by Hotchkins, a junior college transfer, who looks like the perfect middle linebacker. According to some reports he could have the inside track at starting over Mattingly. We shall see. 

Place your bets: This position group could be the defense's weak link after losing Rodney Hardrick, Joe Walker and Tyson Coleman.  UO could find itself rotating guys in and out of the lineup trying to find some consistency. Oregon, after shifting defensive philosophies to the 4-3, is going to have to adjust how it recruits this position moving forward. Chances are we see 3-4 elements in the 4-3 scheme this season as the defense adjusts.    

Odds are: Not good. This is not a championship-caliber group, on paper. Maybe they will surprise. 

Poker hand: Pair of 10s. While the secondary returns starters and the defensive line is loaded with bodies, the linebacking corps doesn't have much to hang its hat on at this point.   

Next up: Defensive backs.  

Other posts: Quarterbacks; Running backs; Wide receivers/Tight ends; Offensive line; Defensive lineDefensive backs.   

Our top three Ducks who must improve for UO to contend

Our top three Ducks who must improve for UO to contend

Oregon doesn't start fall camp on Aug. 8, so we're trying to kill time with a little prognostication here and there. Today, Bri Amaranthus and Aaron Fentress count down their top three Ducks who must improve if Oregon is going to contend for the Pac-12 title in 2016.

NO. 3

Fentress' pick - Senior linebacker Johnny Ragin III: - Ragin provides some experience within a group loaded with inexperienced returning players. To help Oregon's move to the 4-3, Ragin must provide consistency and leadership.  

Quote: "He was taken to media day. He needs to play like a guy taken to media day. Last year, just 20 tackles. He going to need 60 or 70 to have an impact on that defense." '

Amaranthus' Pick - Junior left tackle Tyrell Crosby: - The three-year starter is on the quiet side vocally, but certainly creates noise on the field when he plows into defenders. Oregon could need him to provide leadership after losing seniors Tyler Johnstone and Matt Hegarty.

Quote: "He's got the physical abilities. We saw it last year. He started all 12 games. But he needs to become that emotional leader for the Ducks on the offensive line."

 

NO. 2

Fentress' pick - Redshirt freshman center Jake Hanson: - Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood praised Hanson's development during spring drills. Problem is, Hanson has never before played center. 

Quote: His youth could be a red flag, but "the last redshirt freshman to start for Oregon at center was Hroniss Grasu, who went on to win a couple of Rose Bowls, etc."

Amaranthus' Pick - Senior defensive end Torrodney Prevot: - The former four-star linebacker recruit has had a spotty career to date, now he moves to defensive end, where he could excel as a pass rusher in Oregon's new 4-3 scheme. 

Quote: "He moved from linebacker to defensive line during spring ball... He's going to have to put on a lot of weight. He wants to get to 255 pounds."

 

NO. 1

Fentress' pick - Sophomore defensive lineman Canton Kaumatule: - The former four-star recruit has the talent to become a dominant force but has been limited by injures, including a major concucssion suffered last season. 

Quote: "He has been compared to Buckner and Armstead, who are gone. He needs to play like one or both of those guys in order for that front seven to elevate itself after losing six of seven starters." 

Amaranthus' Pick - Junior cornerback Arrion Springs: - Springs is ultra talented. Just ask him. But mental lapses and inconsistent play have prevented him from reaching his potential. That must change this season. 

Quote: "Definitely talks the talk. We have to see him walk the walk a little bit more."