Oregon Ducks

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Legacy of a Leader: Troy Dye's intensity guiding Oregon to a season worth coming back for

Flashback to a beautifully crisp winter day and Oregon’s win over Michigan State in the Redbox Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Junior Troy Dye hoisted his defensive MVP trophy in the air as fans congratulated Oregon’s leading tackler for three-straight seasons on possibly his last victory in a Ducks uniform.

It wasn’t. Despite gaining traction as a “freak athlete” in NFL circles with an opportunity to make major money in the 2019 NFL draft, Dye chose to stay at Oregon for his senior season. 

317 days later, Dye is still leading No. 6 Oregon in tackles, has jumped up to a projected first round 2020 NFL draft selection and has the opportunity to be hoisting a more prestigious trophy in the air in his actual final season.

Through eight games, Dye’s senior tour has featured 42 tackles with 6.5 for a loss including a sack, three pass breakups and an interception on one of Oregon’s strongest defenses in program history.

His highlights are stunning:

  • In his final home opener, the smiling linebacker danced alone to the familiar tune of “Shout” letting loose and pumping up the rowdy crowd in a moment that will go down in history.
  • Dye recorded a career-high 15 tackles and the most in a season opener in Oregon history vs. Auburn.
  • Dye performed a snow angel in the middle of the W at Husky Stadium after overcoming the largest second-half deficit since 2008.
  • Back in his home of southern California, Dye jumped into the stands after handing USC its worst home loss since 2009.

The Ducks are undefeated in Pac-12 Conference play, one win from claiming the North Division and contenders for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

On a scale from 1-10, how much fun is Dye having?

“I’m at a 12. I’m having a blast. I wake up every morning with a smile on my face, I come here (to practice) with a smile on my face and I’m going to leave with a smile on my face.”

The most telling moment of his season may have come from suffering a broken thumb and gutting it out at Washington. The injury kept him on the sideline against Washington State, snapping his consecutive start streak at 40 games and bringing a reality that it takes only one snap for a football season, or career, to be over. In a cast the size of a club, Dye returned one game later to beat up on the Trojans and show the truth of his character.

“That’s a significant injury that a lot of people would have probably waited to be fully healed and then go and play,” Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal said. “But what he chose to do is different. When guys like Troy speak, those are strong, powerful and impactful words. This (season) means a lot to him and it shows in the way he approaches practice and everything he does. I can’t say enough great things about him, I think he’s as good as it gets in the country.”

His words impacted Oregon's home opener, in which the Ducks trailed Cal 7-0 at halftime. Dye’s halftime speech eloquently made it clear the Ducks needed to play to their standard. The sentiment was echoed and the Ducks overcame their slow start to beat the Bears 17-7.

His actions speak louder than his words. Since returning and still in a cast for his thumb, the linebacker has hit a new level with three conference games left to play.

“He’s done a tremendous job over the course of the season but you really see it now, down the stretch,” Oregon Defensive Coordinator Andy Avalos said. “In my opinion, I think he’s turned it up in practice, since the injury. It made him want it even more.”

Troy Dye agrees that he has hit a new intensity.

“I realized that it can be taken from you. Within a snap, it can be gone,” Dye said. “I’m super fortunate to be able to come back and play with my brothers and end the season how I want to end it. I’m happy, I’m having fun with it and enjoying my time here.”

His teammates couldn’t be happier for him, either. True freshman Mase Funa beams when he details all the tips he’s learned from Dye. Junior Thomas Graham loves to see Dye prosper after witnessing him help change the program from a 4-8 team (2016) to a team on an eight-game winning streak with the biggest goals, a conference title and playoff berth, still possible.

What’s it like for Cristobal to witness Dye live his best life this season?

“I’m jealous. I want to go back to college and do it like he’s doing it,” Cristobal said.

In his final season, the future opportunities are ever-present for Dye. Every Oregon game, more and more NFL scouts grace the media press box. Dye accepted a Senior Bowl invite, where he can show off his elite agility and lateral quickness.

But before all of that, the Ducks need their leader to finish a potentially history-making season, which is exactly the kind of season a junior hopes to return for.

Will rain & strong wind threaten Oregon's offense in the PAC 12 Championship Game?

Will rain & strong wind threaten Oregon's offense in the PAC 12 Championship Game?

The forecast for the Pac-12 Championship game is rainy with projected 20+MPH winds.

This morning, it's beautiful and sunny in Santa Clara, but that's expected to change.

The weather could be a major factor in what will likely be a muddy clash for the Pac-12 title between No.13 Oregon and No. 5 Utah. Levi’s Stadium has real grass, by the way. It could be a muddy mess.

When describing the forecast to Oregon linebacker Troy Dye, he responded, “Sounds like a regular day in Eugene.”

Which is ironic, because it was so sunny in Eugene this week, the Ducks had to prepare for the bad weather with artificial wet drills by soaking the footballs.

The only time the Ducks played in the rain this season was at Washington. In that game, the Oregon offense put up 35 points. Justin Herbert threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns. So, while some might think it will be a ground game, the Ducks win over the Huskies shows Oregon won't be afraid to throw the ball.

Adverse weather conditions could lead to mistakes and sloppy play, but Oregon will need to win the turnover battle to have a chance today.

 

MORE DUCKS

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

10 surprising numbers: Oregon vs. Utah in Pac-12 Championship

Mario Cristobal’s ear-catching comments about time of possession

Even G.O.A.T.'s have birthdays. Happy Birthday, Sabrina Ionescu!

Even G.O.A.T.'s have birthdays. Happy Birthday, Sabrina Ionescu!

Back-to-back Pac-12 Player of the Year; All-Time leader in triple-doubles in the NCAA (men's or women's); Wade Trophy winner for Player of the Year; Wooden Trophy winner for Most Outstanding Player in Women's College Basketball; Nancy Lieberman Award winner (second straight season, nation's top point guard); seeking a Masters degree; twin; Nike jersey sold out within a day...

And she's not done yet.

In her final season at Oregon, Ionescu has the chance to become the first player in NCAA women's basketball history to reach 2,000+ career points, 1,000+ career assists and 1,000+ career rebounds. She has already checked career points off that list and recently became the Pac-12's assist leader (836 and counting).

Enjoy more fun facts about the G.O.A.T. in the video above!

Oregon LT Penei Sewell named PAC-12 Player of the Year by PFF

usatsi_12565293.jpg
IMAGN

Oregon LT Penei Sewell named PAC-12 Player of the Year by PFF

It’s the end of the regular season in college football, which means bowl games and end of season awards. 

One of the players who will be recognized over and over again will be Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell. 

PFF announced their Power 5 Players of the Year with the PAC-12 award going to the Oregon offensive lineman. 

PFF uses a play-by-play grading to analyze players, and Sewell is on pace to shatter the records for an offensive lineman in both run protection and pass protection, according to the website. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Perhaps the best tackle prospect to come about since Eric Fisher went first in the 2013 NFL Draft, Sewell has dominated since his first snaps on the field in Eugene. He's on pace to break the record for the highest grade we've ever given to an offensive tackle and is setting records with his pass-blocking and run-blocking grades in the process. In pass protection alone, Sewell stands tall over his peers.

In 2019, Sewell has taken 420 reps in pass protection and allowed just six total pressures, giving up pressure on just 1.4% of his pass-blocking snaps, an absurd rate. 

Sewell was the Outland Trophy player of the month for September and was named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, given to CFB’s best interior lineman. In addition, Sewell was named the Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week four times. 

Other Player of the Year honors went to:

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE: Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

BIG TEN CONFERENCE: Chase Young, Edge, Ohio State

BIG 12 CONFERENCE: Ceedee Lamb, WR, Oklahoma

SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: Joe Burrow, QB, LSU

Sewell and the Ducks will suit up Friday in the PAC-12 Championship Game vs. Utah. 

Oregon swagged out in "Nightmare Green" for Pac-12 Championship

Oregon swagged out in "Nightmare Green" for Pac-12 Championship

The No. 13 Oregon Ducks will be donning all "Nightmare Green" on Friday at 5 p.m (PT) in Levi's Stadium against Pac-12 South division winner No. 5 Utah. 

[READ: Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title]

Oregon's "Nike Vapor Fusion" uniform is celebrating its 20th anniversary of their partnership with Nike. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature large "Mighty Oregon" font resembling last season's "Oregon Football 2.0" uniform with slight differences. The addition of Nightmare Green is the biggest change while notably no black set was released. 

The battle between Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 Utah (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Conference crown is bound to be intense with major post-season implications. The Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 Conference champions (among another option). Standing in their way? The Utes, packed with experienced offensive weapons, one of the toughest defenses in the nation and imminent College Football Playoff dreams.

Utah will be wearing all white.

Numbers to know: Utah leads the FBS in rushing defense (56.3) with opponents averaging just 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing and have outscored their opponents 193-61 in the second half this season. 

MORE DUCKS

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

Where Oregon's Bowl path currently stands: Rose Bowl to Alamo Bowl

10 surprising numbers: Oregon vs. Utah in Pac-12 Championship

Mario Cristobal’s ear-catching comments about time of possession

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

USC keeping Helton is the best news the Ducks could hear

Days after Chris Petersen resigned from coaching the Washington Huskies, the good news just keeps coming for Ducks fans.

After a season of what felt like a dead man coaching, USC AD Mike Bohn said Wednesday that head coach Clay Helton will be retained. 

USC ended the regular season ranked No. 22 in the College Football Playoff Rankings, going 8-4, including a win over No. 5 Utah. That sounds like a successful season, but there’s much more to the situation that caused many Trojan fans to desire Helton’s firing. 

USC is arguably the only blue blood football program in the Pac-12. They are located in the middle of Los Angeles, which creates some of the most elite high school football talent in America. The top two high school football teams in the nation are located near Los Angeles. Many of those elite kids grow up dreaming of playing in LA Coliseum. USC recruits itself and always is among the most talented teams in the nation.  

Despite all of that, USC has the 67th ranked recruiting class in the country eleven days before the early signing period. Helton has the program in such bad shape that local recruits are continuing to look elsewhere.

If USC’s brand perception continues to tank, then the rank of being the best brand in the conference can be Oregon’s for the taking. The elite recruits choosing their schools today do not remember the Pete Caroll era that included teams with Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush. They grew up watching Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks torching USC en route to winning BCS Bowls and revolutionizing college football. They were trend-setters with their uniforms, while USC was caught up in their past traditions. Now, the Ducks have Mario Cristobal at the helm, one of the best recruiters in the country. 

Also, Oregon has already gone into Los Angeles and received commitments from kids targeted by USC, as well. Linebacker Mase Funa and wide receiver Michael Pittman come to mind immediately. The LA to Eugene pipeline began when De'Anthony Thomas shocked the world by committing to the Ducks. Recruits today remember that decision. Cristobal has only solidified that pipeline and if USC continues to look unappealing, then the Ducks should only amass more talent. 

Don't forget these kids watched the Ducks demolish USC in Los Angeles earlier this season, 56-24.

Currently, the Ducks have the 11th ranked recruiting class according to 247 Sports and still have a few more spots open for big time recruits to commit closer to signing day.

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

Three keys for the Oregon Ducks to win the Pac-12 Championship

Friday’s battle between No. 13 Oregon (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) and No. 5 Utah (11-1, 8-1 Pac-12) for the Pac-12 Conference crown is bound to be intense with major post-season implications. 

The Ducks still have a chance at playing in the Rose Bowl as Pac-12 Conference champions (among another option). Standing in their way? The Utes, packed with experienced offensive weapons, one of the toughest defenses in the nation and imminent College Football Playoff dreams.

AN OREGON WIN WOULD…

·      Tie Oregon with Stanford for most Pac-12 Championship Game victories (3).

·      Clinch the program's eighth appearance in the Rose Bowl.

·      Give Oregon seven seasons with 11 or more wins (first time since 2014).


A UTAH WIN WOULD…

·      Be Utah’s first conference championship.

·      Extend its winning streak to nine games, their longest winning streak since 2008 when Utah went undefeated (13-0).

·      Keep its college football playoff hopes alive.

THREE KEYS TO AN OREGON VICTORY

Oregon can hang with anyone when they put it all together but how can they defeat a Utes team looking for a statement win to display to the College Football Playoff rankings committee?

1. Shake up Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley

Dual-threat quarterback Tyler Huntley is dangerous and experienced. The senior is crazy efficient (has completed 75.5% of his passes, which is second behind LSU’s Joe Burrow) averaging 11.1 passing yards per completion, a Pac-12 best and third in the FBS. 

Huntley and Burrow are the only two quarterbacks who have thrown under 70 percent in two or less games. They are also the only quarterbacks that have thrown for 80 percent or higher in four games this season.

The Heisman-Trophy candidate also has 74 carries for 255 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

“Huntley runs that offense like he’s been there for four years because he has been. We’re looking forward to playing against them,” senior linebacker Troy Dye said.
Oregon must disrupt Huntley and the ball-controlling Utes. The Duck defense has been mostly dependable this season, allowing 10 points or fewer in seven of 10 games. The Ducks have recorded a conference-best 35 sacks and will need to continue to play to that strength.

Look for starting defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux to have a major impact. The freshman has heated up in the last four games, totaling eight tackles for loss and four sacks. Coming off a two tackles for loss, one sack performance, Thibodeaux matched a program freshman record with 6.5 sacks on the season, tying Troy Dye’s 2016 total. Entering this season, Thibodeaux’s goal was 10 sacks: an accomplishment still in reach.

2. Win the turnover battle

The rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference could lead to some mistakes and sloppy play. Oregon must be on the winning end of the turnover battle to contend against Utah. The Ducks practiced with a wet ball this week and aren’t overly concerned with “mother nature”. Some numbers to consider:

  • Keep Utah’s defense out of the end zone- The Utes defense has five touchdowns this season, ranking second in the FBS.
  • Oregon ranks first (17) and Utah (13) ranks second in interceptions.
  • Utah is 10th in FBS in turnover margin (0.83).
  • Oregon has scored 113 points off turnovers compared to opponents' 27 points off turnovers.
  • This season against Pac-12 teams, Oregon is undefeated when winning the turnover battle (4-0).

3. Passing game success

Utah is known for its defense, which is giving up a conference-best 11.3 points (third in the nation) and 56.3 yards rushing (first in the nation) on average. Opponents haven’t found an answer to the Utes rushing defense that is allowing an average of 2.26 yards per carry. The Utes have held 11 of their 12 opponents to under 100 yards rushing.

So likely, the Ducks will have to get it done through the passing game.

This is considerable reason for concern regarding Oregon’s offense, which has struggled in the last two games. After quarterback Jusin Herbert threw two interceptions against Arizona State, the Ducks totaled their lowest yardage of the season against Oregon State. Oregon’s receivers have lacked separation and Herbert has had some errant throws.

[READ: Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title]

The Ducks will need junior wide receiver Johnny Johnson III to maintain his dependability in his strong season finish. In the last three games, he has 18 catches for 335 yards and four touchdowns. 34 of the junior’s 49 receptions have gone for first downs and he has three-straight games with a touchdown catch.

How and where to watch

Time: Friday, Dec. 6, 5:14 p.m. (PT)

Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California

TV: ABC

Radio: KUGN-AM (590), KUJZ-FM (95.3), KZEL-FM (96.1)

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

How Marcus Arroyo’s name popping up in the coaching carousel affects Oregon

In a time of collegiate football postseason play, the coaching carousel has begun.

How might this effect the No. 13 ranked Oregon Ducks? Offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo’s name popped up Wednesday, according to a report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, for the UNLV head coaching vacancy.

According to the report, another name on that list will be across the field from Arroyo at the Pac-12 Championship on Friday: Utah defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley.

Arroyo joined the Oregon program as a part of Willie Taggart’s staff back in 2017 as Oregon’s co-offensive coordinator as well as the coach for the quarterbacks/tight ends. Before his tenure at Oregon, Arroyo spent two seasons as the running backs coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

How this effects the Ducks

It’s not always good for team morale to hear one of your own coach’s names being thrown out to take another position, especially now that the Ducks are San Jose bound for the Pac-12 Championship game.

A dialed-in, focused week with limited distractions is what’s needed for the Ducks right now with No. 5 Utah looming at the end of the short week. This will be the final season that senior quarterback Justin Herbert will be coached by Arroyo as Herbert is NFL bound in a few months.

Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title

Justin Herbert's heart is Oregon's X-factor to win Pac-12 Title

Oregon is about to play as the underdog for the first time in 2019 in its most prominent game of the season: The Pac-12 Championship game.

Statistically, No. 5 Utah out-matches the No. 13 Ducks. The Utes have the Pac-12's best defense; a physical team that’s allowing only 56 rushing yards a game. Plus, Utah is the conference’s best rushing team, led by running back Zack Moss with a crazy efficient dual-threat quarterback at the helm in Tyler Huntley.

Also, the Utes are still College Football Playoff contenders looking to make a statement to the committee.

Alas, Oregon has something that Utah doesn’t have: Senior quarterback Justin Herbert, a young man who is looking to bestow a lasting legacy in his swan song season. The Eugene-native has the chance to validate his stamp of greatness and accomplish the goals he returned for in his final Oregon football season.

No one shoulders it more than him. His passion is almost… (pause)… You can almost taste it. You feel it on him sometimes. He is really excited (to compete for the Pac-12 Title). The biggest part for him, is another chance to play with an “O” on his chest with his guys in his senior year in a place he wanted to play. That’s really cool to see. -- Oregon offensive Coordinator Marcus Arroyo 

Following Oregon’s loss at Arizona State, which killed all hopes of a College Football Playoff berth, Herbert said “it means everything” to refocus and aim their ambitions at the Rose Bowl. The Ducks can guarantee a spot in the Rose Bowl with a Pac-12 title win.

Herbert’s coaches and teammates are inspired by his desire and heart as Oregon prepares to play Utah.

He’s the main leader on this team, so we follow what he does. Since Saturday’s game, he’s come out and been the focal point of the whole team. He’s leading the right way, showing by example and telling people what to do. We all follow what number 10 does and we love what he does. -- Troy Dye

Herbert’s message to Dye and the rest of the Ducks?

Compete, compete, compete. Leave it all out there. There are only two teams in the Pac-12 practicing this week.

The Ducks will need spectacular play from Herbert to take the title. A major key to victory will be finding success in the passing game, something that hasn’t been roaring in the past two games (two interceptions at ASU and recording the lowest yardage total of the season vs. OSU).

This is where Herbert’s undeniable talent, passion and love for Oregon come into play. Plus his arm, which compels NFL scouts to keep an analyzing eye on Herbert and project him as a first round selection in the 2020 NFL draft.

Herbert will set his single-season career high in passing (3,151 in 2018; currently 3,140) on Friday, but can he empty the tank and perform at his best against the best?

In the Herbert era, year-over-year the Ducks have shown progress, winning four games in 2016, seven games in 2017, nine games in 2018 and 10 currently in 2019, plus a chance at the Rose Bowl.

His chances to make an impact in an Oregon uniform are dwindling. The 6-foot-6, 237-pound quarterback with the powerful right arm and sneaky-fast wheels has an opportunity for the most substantial win of his Duck career on Friday in Levi’s Stadium.

Rainy, windy conditions in a clash between the most physical teams in the conference vying for the crown… get your popcorn ready.

Opposing corners should fear Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell

Opposing corners should fear Oregon offensive lineman Penei Sewell

Left side, strong side.

Last week, Oregon sophomore Penei Sewell was honored as one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy which is presented to the nation’s best interior lineman on offense or defense. Sewell is named alongside Wisconsin junior center Tyler Biadasz and Auburn senior defensive tackle Derrick Brown.

This honor comes to Sewell in his sophomore season. The Outland Trophy committee recognized and honored Sewell as a finalist after 18 games played. 

It’s just a blessing. Growing up, I’ve always wanted one of those and to see that I’m a finalist, I want to go harder. -- Penei Sewell

How impressive is it that Sewell, in his second year of collegiate football, is up for this prestigious award? Very. Sewell joins Oregon legend and five-time NFL pro bowler Haloti Ngata (2005) as the only two players in program history be a finalist.

“I think more than anything it’s the accountability and what he’s put on tape. He plays with physicality and is graded out real well. Not a lot of mental errors. The things you’re looking for when you take those accolades,” said offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo.

Here are some of Sewell’s accomplishments as a freshman:

- USA Today Freshman All-American

- The No. 2 offensive lineman in the Pac-12

- The No. 7 tackle in the nation with an 84.0 grade from Pro Football Focus

At 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, Sewell has been integral in defending quarterback Justin Herbert’s blindside in addition to using his strength and agility to get to the second level of the defense quickly creating space for screens or chunk plays. Imagine being an opposing corner and seeing Sewell with 120+ extra pounds on you charging with a determined and fierce look in his eyes to get you on the ground.

If you’re a corner or something, you should definitely fear him especially in screens because he’s willing to come… I’ve never seen a guy his size be able to move in space like that. It’s really impressive. -- senior offensive lineman Shane Lemieux.

Looming for Sewell and Oregon is the Pac-12 Championship game. If Oregon is to move the ball against the stout Utah Utes defense, Sewell will need to bring his A-game once again.

The Outland Trophy winner will be announced on Thursday, December 12.