Travis Dye seems to get stronger each year in an Oregon football uniform and 2020 was no exception despite COVID-19 terrorizing the nation and shortening the schedule.
In fact, Dye is coming off a big season in which he led Oregon in rushing with 443 yards and a touchdown in just seven games. He put up those numbers on 6.9 yards per attempt which was a career-high, topping his 6.2 yards per carry average from 2019. While the 443 yards were a career-low, if it was a full season, he would have broken his previous career-best of 739 from 2018.
Plus, Dye put up 239 receiving yards (a career-high) and four touchdowns on just nine receptions. Yes, he averaged over 25 yards per catch and had more yards and touchdowns in seven games than he did in his first two seasons with the Ducks.
Yet people are still overlooking the junior running back heading into his fourth season.
Why? Because CJ Verdell returns with a lofty personal goal of 2,000 yards rushing after a slightly disappointing 2020 season which followed back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns to begin his career. Add in Sean Dollars, Seven McGee, and Byron Caldwell and you have a loaded backfield where a guy like Dye could see his carries dwindle.
But I don’t think that’ll be the case in 2021. I actually think Dye is going to play a perfect complementary role to Verdell again and be more of a pass-catching back.
Verdell and Dye essentially split carries in half last year and while I think CJ is going to get a bulk this season, Travis is going to put up a healthy amount, approach his previous career-highs in rushing, and put up personal bests in receiving. He’s going to be that perfect pass-catching back.
My guess would be that Dye rushes for 600-700 yards and catches 20-25 passes for 250-300 yards and five touchdowns.
Are Oregon football’s duo of Dye and Verdell the Pac-12’s best?
It’s tough to find a better backfield in the entire Pac-12 than the one Oregon will run out on a weekly basis, but are Dye and Verdell the best the conference has to offer?
There are only a couple of teams that have backfields that compare to the Ducks’ and here’s who I think may be on the same level — or at least close to it:
- Arizona State (Chip Trayanum, Rachaad White)
- UCLA (Brittain Brown, Zach Charbonnet)
- USC (Vavae Malepeai, Keaontay Ingram)
- Utah (TJ Pledger, Chris Curry)
The only one that I believe has a chance to end up being better is Arizona State’s, but I wouldn’t be shocked if Oregon finished with the most productive backfield in the Pac-12.
Oregon is in good shape heading into the 2021 campaign.