No jokes. No frills. No gloves…?
Picture a 1970s or 80s running back, maybe at Green Bay in the snow; a workhorse scraping and crawling for yards on the ground.
According to junior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux, that’s what true freshman Travis Dye is like.
Dye is the younger brother of Oregon’s star linebacker junior Troy Dye, but he jokes around a lot less than his “class clown” brother.
"Travis is an example of you go your career coaching and you'll have a few true freshmen that right away are mature enough to handle that pressure," offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo said. "I think him having grown up with Troy a little bit and his upbringing, they've done a really nice job… I think his maturity has showed.”
Dye enrolled early in January and has become Oregon’s No. 2 running back, behind CJ Verdell. However, this Saturday on senior day at Autzen Stadium, the 18-year-old may be asked to shoulder a bigger load due to the Ducks’ depleted depth chart.
Verdell’s and Cyrus Habibi-Likio’s status is unclear, after suffering a neck sprain and quad contusion at Utah, respectfully.
At Utah, Dye had the longest run of 18 yards and finished leading the team with 66 yards on nine carries. The best game of his excellent freshman season came at California; leading the Ducks’ rushing attack with 18 carries for 115 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown.
Among Pac-12 freshmen, Dye ranks in rushing yards (417) and rushing yards per game (41.7). Adding to his 83 carries and two rushing touchdowns, he also has 10 completions for 73 yards and one touchdown.
UO quarterback Justin Herbert complimented Dye on his route running and pass blocking. Dye has also impressed Lemieux.
“(Travis has) a mental capacity almost like a redshirt junior or senior would have,” said Lemieux. “He understands the ins and outs of defensive scheme, pass protections, where to hit the holes and how to be patient behind the blocks.”
Another major strength for Dye is his shiftiness and ability to run hard without hesitation. At 5-foot-10, 200-pounds, Dye has worked hard this season on breaking tackles and making defenders miss.
“I can’t get tackled by one guy,” Dye said.
This Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Dye will face a surging Sun Devils (6-4, 4-3) team that is looking for their fourth straight win to keep their Pac-12 South division title dreams alive.
Arroyo’s game plan is to pound the rock against an Arizona’s rushing defense that ranks 56th in the nation and allows an average of 153 rushing yards per game. In their last three losses (Washington State, Arizona and Utah), the Ducks have averaged just 86.3 yards per game.
If Troy is most likely to be Oregon’s class clown, what is Travis most likely to do?
“Score a touchdown,” Travis said.
With two conference games remaining, the Ducks (6-4, 3-4 Pac-12) are counting on it.