College football is going to have a strange season in 2020. With social distancing persisting until at least June, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities for teams to be under-conditioned and a little unprepared at the start of the season.
A short off-season may slow the development of several key freshmen, such as Noah Sewell and Justin Flowe. Returning players will likely be more ready for the upcoming season.
With Flowe and Sewell likely taking longer than initially projected to work their way into the rotation, a player who looks primed to take snaps at linebacker is Adrian Jackson. The redshirt sophomore looked poised to break out last season, but suffered a season-ending injury prior to the start of the season. With snaps available at linebacker and defensive end, Jackson is likely to command playing time.
Jackson has received rave reviews for his athleticism since stepping onto campus, and he looked decent on the field in limited playing time as a true freshman in 2018. With Troy Dye gone, Jackson will have every opportunity to assert himself as a starter.
While Jackson will have to fight for playing time in an extremely crowded linebacking corps, he brings NFL size and athleticism to a group that will miss the unquestioned leadership of Dye.
Speaking of someone with the last name Dye, Travis Dye is also primed for a breakout season.
I know what you are thinking; “He already broke out! He has been a co-starter for two seasons!” But I have a response to your cries of injustice on behalf of the junior running back. Despite having just shy of 1,400 career rushing yards and a little less than 250 career receiving yards, Dye has only found the endzone a total of six times.
It may seem arbitrary to complain that a non-feature back would fail to score loads of touchdowns, but consider the following. In the 2019 season CJ Verdell, Cyrus Habibi-Likio, Darrian Felix, Justin Herbert and Jaylon Redd all rushed for two or more touchdowns on the season. Dye, despite having the second most carries and the second most rushing yards on the team, had exactly zero rushing touchdowns. His only score on the season came on a reception.
Now in his third season under Jim Masro and primed to play under Joe Moorhead in what has to be a better rushing scheme than the last two years, expect Dye to score a few more points. Dye is a talented back, and should see significant playing time yet again.
If the Ducks are going to win this year, Dye and Jackson will have to be leaders on this team. A tough early season schedule and several key games on the road mean that Oregon has to come out of the gate strong, so expect the upperclassmen to take the field en masse to start the year.
Top Photo Credit: Eugene Johnson
Natalie Liebhaber, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in the financial technology industry in Bozeman, Montana.
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