Oregon Ducks

Oregon LB Troy Dye lives up to the hype

Oregon LB Troy Dye lives up to the hype

EUGENE - It took all of about three minutes into Oregon's 53-28 win Saturday over UC Davis for Ducks freshman linebacker Troy Dye to live up to the hype that surrounded him during fall camp. 

Two plays into his first college game Dye already had two tackles, including one for a three-yard loss in which he flew into the backfield off the edge to run down his prey. 

By the end of the first quarter, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound Dye already had six tackles with three for losses. He finished the day with 11 tackles, seven solo, with 4 1/2 tackles for loss. 

Keep in mind that last season Tyson Coleman led the team's linebackers with 12 tackles for loss. DeForest Buckner had 17. Dye is on pace for roughly 58 in 13 games. 

Certainly, that won't happen, but it does put Dye's performance in perspective. For those watching, the site of the ultra fast Dye tracking down ball-carriers was something to behold. To those on the team, it was just Dye being Dye. 

"How he played is how he's practiced every single day that he's been here," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "He's just been one of those guys that's electric."

"He's been doing this since the first day of fall camp," redshirt sophomore defensive end Jalen Jelks said. "It's nothing new to us."

The college game is new to Dye but it certainly didn't seem like it. 

Dye, whose older brother played in the NFL and coached him in high school, said knowledge of the game helps him play fast. He enjoys studying the playbook and game film so he can go out and play fast and physical. 

"Sometimes I was out there and I knew what was coming. We watched a lot of film this past week and we dissected their offense really well. There were a lot of indicators and keys that they had so I just read 'em and went." 

Where does Dye go from here?

"He set a great benchmark for how he is going to play in the future," Helfrich said. 

Chances are he lives up to it. Dye is the type of linebacker Oregon has been craving, do-everything playmaker that opposing offenses will have to account for. 

That said, much tougher competition looms. UC Davis isn't exactly Washington or Stanford. But nobody on the team doubts Dye is only scratching the surface of his talents. 

"He's a very, very good athlete," UO defensive coordinator Brady Hoke said. "I think his football instinct IQ is pretty good. I don't know if that absolutely surprised anybody But there's a ton of stuff that he can do better, too." 

That's a frightening thought. 

Oregon vs. Georgia football in the works for 2022

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Oregon vs. Georgia football in the works for 2022

There is something brewing in the Oregon football future. A potential SEC vs. PAC12 clash of two powerhouse programs. Reported this morning by 247 Sports' Jake Rowe, there is talk of the Oregon Ducks and Georgia Bulldogs facing off in a preseason game in 2022. The game is rumored to take place at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Article can be read here.

In the light of heavy conversation about preseason schedules, non-conference opponents, and strength of schedules, the Ducks are facing a potential "cakewalk" this season opening up with Bowling Green, Portland State, and San Jose State before starting Pac-12 conference play. 

Already in the last few weeks, Oregon has scheduled a three-year series against Boise State starting in 2024, and a home-and-home with Michigan State in 2029, 2030.

 

Taggart can shed "overrated" label by finishing the job

Taggart can shed "overrated" label by finishing the job

Former Oregon coach Willie Taggart's rapid rise through the coaching ranks that landed him at Florida State without ever having won a championship or even a bowl game appears to be the impetus behind him being voted the most "overrated" coach by some of his peers in a recent poll conducted by CBSSports.com

CBS Sports interviewed coaches anonymously for its poll and 20 percent named Taggart and Penn State coach James Franklin as the most overrated in their profession. The selection of Franklin is interesting considering that he returned the Nittany Lions to national prominence with back-to-back 11-win seasons following the program's fall following the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse scandal that rocked Penn State only a few years ago. 

The selection of Taggart, however, appears to be a bit harsh but not completely without merit. 

Taggart has one of the most coveted and respected jobs in the country and got that position without having ever won a conference title, let alone contending for a national championship. Plus, his overall record of 47-50 compiled at Western Kentucky (16-20), South Florida (24-25) and Oregon (7-5) certainly doesn't appear to befit the coach of a such a prominent program. 

The fact of the matter is that Taggart has yet to prove that he is a championship-caliber coach. All we know is that he is one hell of a recruiter and if you have a struggling program in need of a jolt of personality, energy, swag and offensive firepower, Taggart is most certainly your guy. 

But can he secure some hardware for the trophy case? That remains to be seen.

In many ways, Taggart's overall record isn't exactly reflective of his coaching abilities. Is it fair to judge a coach's record when he takes on reclamation projects?

The combined records of WKU, USF and UO during the year prior to Taggart's arrival to the respective programs was 7-29. Western Kentucky went 0-12 before Taggart returned the Hilltoppers back to respectability with 7-5 records in years two and three of his rebuild. South Florida went 3-9 before Taggart's arrival. He got them to 8-5 in year three and 10-2 in his fourth season before departing for Oregon, which was coming off of a 4-8 season. Taggart went 7-5 with the Ducks before jetting off to FSU.

Taggart's combined record in the final season of his respective three prior jobs is 24-12. 

Taggart has changed jobs so rapidly during his rebuilds that he has yet to taste winning a bowl game. He got the Hilltoppers to a bowl game in his third season, but he left for South Florida before Western Kentucky lost 24-21 to Central Michigan in the Little Caesar's Bowl. 

Taggart went to a bowl game following his third season at South Florida (8-5) only to lose 45-35 to - wait for it - Western Kentucky in the Miami Beach Bowl (whatever that is). The Bulls went 10-2 the following year before Taggart left for Oregon prior to the team's 46-39 win over Cincinnati in the Birmingham Bowl. 

Of course, everyone around here remembers that Taggart left Oregon 10 days before it lost 38-28 to Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl. 

What is evident is that whenever Taggart gets a program going in the right direction, another looks to swipe him away in order to fix their mess. That naturally leads to rebuilds that ultimately can skew a coach's won-loss record. 

If you erase Taggart's first seasons at WKU and USF where he put out dumpster fires while going a combined 4-20, Taggart is 43-30. That type of record at FSU, however, would certainly get Taggart fired.  

Now settled into his "dream job," Taggart has nowhere else to go. Bigger or better jobs do not exist on Taggart's radar. He would only leave FSU for either the NFL or if he were fired. The former won't happen unless he wins. 

Taggart has no excuse not to rack up Ws. FSU's roster is loaded, which is why the Seminoles are ranked No. 19 in the preseason AP Poll. Taggart's first recruiting class at FSU - largely neglected by the out-going Jimbo Fisher - finished ranked No. 11 on 247Sports.com. The four years prior under Fisher, FSU's classes ranked No. 6 (2017), No. 3 (2016), No. 3 (2015) and No. 4 (2014).

Unless there were a ton of wild misses in talent evaluation over the past five years, the Seminoles should be stacked with enough talent to contend in the Atlantic Coast Conference for years to come. 

It's during that time when Taggart will either shed the "overrated" tag, or prove the label to be correct.

Taggart tagged as most overrated coach in CFB

Taggart tagged as most overrated coach in CFB

College football coaches plus anonymity equals eye-catching quotes and hot takes.

A coaching panel was asked to name the most overrated coach in college football and former Oregon coach Willie Taggart topped the list.

According to a poll in which CBS Sports spoke with one-fifth of the 129 active coaches leading FBS teams entering the season, Taggart and Penn State’s James Franklin each received 20 percent of the vote.

Taggart enters his first season at Florida State, replacing Jimbo Fisher, after one year at Oregon. He is 47-50 overall as a head coach with stops at Western Kentucky and South Florida. He repeatedly called FSU his “dream job”.

A “dream job” that some FBS coaches don’t believe he had earned.

“He was only at Oregon for one year, and it’s not like he really transformed that program — and that’s a place that’s won for a long time,” one coach said of Taggart. “Not that he isn’t good — he’s won. But usually when you get a job like Florida State, it’s because you’ve won some championships or done something really amazing.”

Another coach said he voted for Taggart because “he still has a career losing record.”

Taggart is universally respected as a recruiter, but because of his losing career record and relatively short resume (plus probably some jealousy) his peers seem to question the new Seminoles head coach’s validity.

Or maybe it's his showmanship and confidence that turns off his peers. Taggart brought the "swag surf" to the Oregon student section, the "juice" to the football team and smeared the "Do Something" slogan all over Autzen stadium.

[READ: Oregon linebacker Troy Dye calls out Willie Taggart on Twitter]

It should be noted that Taggart took over three losing programs that went a combined 7-29 before his arrival and got them all to bowl games before departing for better job.  

Taggart wasn’t the only coach who was criticized. Nick Saban was labeled a “cheater” by one head coach.

"If you had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country every year [you'd win like Nick Saban]," one coach said. "He shows up at every single game with a better roster than the teams he's playing. … If you count cheating and getting the best players in the country as part of running a program, he's the best in the country. It's like saying an NFL coach is the best coach in the league if he gets 25 first-round picks every year."

Noteably, three of five of the most underrated coaches hail from the Pac-12 conference. Twelve percent of coaches panel voted for Stanford’s David Shaw and Washington’s Chris Peterson as the most underrated head coaches in the nation.  Utah’s Kyle Whittingham wasn’t far behind, grabbing eight percent of the votes.

Oregon ranked No. 24 in the preseason AP Poll

Oregon ranked No. 24 in the preseason AP Poll

For the first time since week four of 2017, Oregon has landed on the Associated Press Poll. The Ducks start the Mario Cristobal era ranked as No. 24 in the preseason AP Poll.

Pac-12 teams that made the cut in the AP Poll Top 25 include No. 6 Washington, No. 13 Stanford and No. 15 USC. 

Alabama is just the second team to be ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for three straight seasons. Alabama received 42 out of 61 first-place votes.

More on the Ducks:

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

Oregon releases new uniforms; internet blows up

How the new redshirt rule helps Oregon

Who will Herbert sling the ball to? The Locks, Contenders and Longshots at receiver

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.12 - LaMichael James

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.12 - LaMichael James

You can’t think of the modern success of the Oregon Ducks without thinking about LaMichael James. Oregon is a school with a very long history of great running backs, and James was arguably the best.

James was a two-time All-American, two-time first team all-Pac-10/Pac-12 selection, and won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back in 2010.

In that 2010 season, James would lead Oregon to its first appearance in the National Title Game, rushing for 1,731 yards and 21 touchdowns on the year.

When he left Eugene, James held numerous Oregon records including:

Career rushing yards (5,082), single-season rushing yards (1,805), single-game rushing yards (288), career rushing touchdowns (53), and single-season rushing touchdowns (21).

Former Ducks RB Royce Freeman scores again for Denver

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USA Today

Former Ducks RB Royce Freeman scores again for Denver

Denver rookie running back Royce Freeman scored his second touchdown of the preseason Saturday night during the Broncos' game against Chicago. 

Freeman's touchdown came from four yards out in the second quarter. The former Oregon star and third-round pick finished the night with six carries for 20 yards and caught one pass for six yards. He is in competition for the starting job with Devontae Booker, who had 17 yards on four carries and caught one pass for 10 yards. 

Chicago won 24-23. 

Freeman scored on a 23-yard run last week against Minnesota when he rushed for 38 yards on four carries. 

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

Which Duck linebackers will wreak havoc? The locks, contenders and longshots

The Ducks know they have two stars at linebacker in junior Troy Dye and senior Justin Hollins. With the emergence of La’Mar Winston Jr., this position unit could be the strongest on the team.

LOCKS

Troy Dye, junior, inside linebacker: Oregon's defensive MVP for the 2017 season has generated major NFL draft buzz and has landed on three major watch lists; the Bednarik Award (nation’s top defensive player), the Butkus award (nation’s best linebacker) and the Nagurski award (nation’s best defensive player).

In his two seasons, the preseason All-American has 198 tackles with 118 solo tackles, 80 assisted tackles and 9.5 sacks.

Justin Hollins, senior, outside linebacker: The Butkus award nominee is heading into his fifth year at Oregon as the only Duck to have played on the unit that helped get Oregon into the inaugural College Football Playoff championship game in 2014.

Last season he forced three fumbles and finished third on the team in tackles for loss (11.5) behind defensive end Jalen Jelks (15) and linebacker Troy Dye (13.5).

La’Mar Winston Jr., junior, outside linebacker: The Len Casanova Award for leadership winner (voted on by his teammates) played in all 13 games for the Ducks in 2017, including seven starts. Five of those starts came over the final six games when he delivered 31 tackles with five for loss. He finished the season with 49 tackles, eight tackles for loss and two sacks. 

[WATCH: A SUMMER IN PARIS WITH LA'MAR WINSTON JR.]

"(La'Mar)'s put on weight and strength," Dye said. "Seeing his transition from our freshmen year until now is phenonemal."

CONTENDERS

Kaulana Apelu, senior, inside linebacker; The walk-on was placed on scholarship before the start of 2017 season. He played in five games and made three starts, totaling 20 tackles, including three for loss before suffering a season-ending injury. Apelu rehabbed and returned to the field in time for spring practice. In the spring game, he led the Ducks’ defense with nine tackles and returned a tipped pass 100 yards for a touchdown.

Isaac Slade-Matautia, redshirt freshman, inside linebacker: Last season Slade-Matautia utilized his redshirt. ESPN and Rivals ranked the four-star prospect a top two player from the state of Hawaii. He is competing to be in the mix for starting alongside Dye.

"(Isaac)'s a beast," Dye said. "He's going to surprise a lot of people. There are a lot of things that he has taught me."

Adrian Jackson, freshman, inside linebacker: A consensus four-star prospect and the state of Colorado's top player in 2017. Dye called Jackson a "phenomenal beast" a few days into fall camp. Jackson currently backs up Dye at the JACK linebacker position, but says he’d be willing to move to MIKE.

[READ: How the new redshirt rule helps Oregon]

Keith Simms, sophomore, outside linebacker: Suffered a season-ending injury last season. Played both inside and outside throughout spring practices and totaled 8 tackles and a sack during UO’s spring game. Simms could add quality depth if he can stay healthy.

LONGSHOTS

Sampson Niu, sophomore, inside linebacker: In 2017, Niu played in six games and finished with eight tackles and one tackle for loss. He missed spring drills while rehabbing an injury suffered in the Las Vegas Bowl. Four-star prospect and the top inside linebacker in the state of California by Rivals and 247Sports.

MJ Cunningham, true freshman, inside linebacker: A consensus three-star prospect by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports. The Portland-native is another freshman that could crack the rotation.

Who will Herbert sling the ball to? The Locks, Contenders and Longshots at receiver

Oregon releases new uniforms; internet blows up

Oregon releases new uniforms; internet blows up

The Oregon Ducks have unveiled their Nike football uniforms for the upcoming season. The winged helmets are back and the jerseys feature a new large "Mighty Oregon" font. Check them out.

The jerseys are more simple than years past. Everyone (and their mother) had something to say about the reveal on Twitter. Here are some of the most sarcastic, clever, interesting and fun tweets.

Font size humor:

A cool throwback to a life before Twitter from former Duck T.J. Ward:

The team is stoked:

And so is the Oregon Duck Mascot:

Can't forget the age old joke...

Where do they rank on your all-time Oregon uniform list?

 

 

REPORT: Dallas signs former Ducks WR Darren Carrington Jr.

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USA Today

REPORT: Dallas signs former Ducks WR Darren Carrington Jr.

The Dallas Cowboys have signed former Oregon and Utah wide receiver Darren Carrington Jr., according to multiple reports.

The signing was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Carrington, who played at Oregon from 2013 through 2016, played last season at Utah after former UO coach Willie Taggart dismissed him from the team for violating team rules.

Carrington, who was suspended for six games in 2014 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the national championship game played at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, is a talented receiver who has the skills to play in the NFL but has hobbled his career by repeatedly making poor decisions away from the field. 

Carrington went undrafted last spring even after being invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. He recently participated in a tryout with Dallas and showed enough to get signed to the team's roster. Plus, Dallas has experienced several injuries at wide receiver during training camp.