As a freshman, Oregon running back Travis Dye quite literally flew onto the scene with his ferocious jump cuts and spin moves. His breakaway speed and agility amounted to 739 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 140 carries.
The 5-foot-10, 192-pound sophomore may be the hardest worker on the team based on the stories his teammates disclose about him.
Wide receiver Jaylon Redd smiled wide when talking about determined Dye. Redd detailed that on multiple occasions, when the defense gets an interception in practice, Dye will be the Duck to sprint all the way down the sideline to keep them from the end zone.
“His effort is there, his heart is there,” Redd said.
Fellow running back Cyrus Habibi-Likio complimented Dye’s integrity. Habibi-Likio was impressed with Dye after he missed a block and linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr. got around him. Later that day in film session, coaches missed the play and instead of dodging the error, Dye brought it back up so that the position room could go over it, correct it and learn from it.
“He is a lot more physical this year,” Habibi-Likio said. “He’s able to run in between the tackles a lot more… He’s not afraid to put his head down and if there is someone in the way, he’s going to try to get through them instead of get around them.”
Over the past year, the game has slowed down for Dye, he knows the playbook like the back of his hand, his blocking has improved and he’s playing more physically. He’s ready to one-up himself, specifically when it comes to breaking runs of 10-plus yards and 20-plus yards.
“When I get the ball I’m always trying to shoot for touchdowns, not first downs,” Dye said.
The competition with the defense has been no laughing matter during fall camp. As it’s extremely difficult for any defensive Ducks to compliment their offensive teammates, including Travis’ brother, star linebacker Troy Dye.
“Iron sharpens iron, as everyone says,” Troy Dye said of his brother, Travis. “It’s always fun to compete against anybody and it’s a little more fun when it’s Travis.”
The shifty Dye is also an enticing option for the Ducks at punt and kick returner. He’s been one of a few contenders who have been taking reps and getting a shot during fall camp.
Special teams need aside, the Ducks desperately need Dye to help UO’s transition to Cristobal’s hard-pounding vision. The Ducks struggled with the physical, between the tackles rushing attack in 2018, finishing the season with the 191 rushing yards per game, the least amount for this program since 2006.
The good news? The Ducks return the entire starting offensive line and both leading rushers in CJ Verdell and Dye. Better news? Dye is trending upwards, improving rapidly towards the latter half of the season. Dye had 507 rushing yards after mid point of the season. To close out Pac-12 play, he rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games, including his record setting Civil War performance.
This season, Dye is adding physicality to his determination and naturally agility… Which is just what the Ducks need for a reliable run game and success in 2019.