Travis Dye was the most explosive weapon for the Ducks' offense last year. He racked up 682 yards of offense (443 rushing, 239 receiving) in the shortened seven game season.
After earning an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention he's hardly satisfied.
"I feel like I've grown a lot since I've got here," Dye said. "I have a lot more potential to reach. I'm never satisfied. I'm working every day to get better."
Offensive Coordinator Joe Moorhead has maximized his versatile game as both a runner and a receiver. Dye says he's been told "It's time to take the training wheels off" this season.
"He's utilizing me really well, the way I want to be utilized," Dye said.
Many of Oregon's promising young tail backs are injured this spring, something he sympathizes with after being hurt during his first spring in Eugene.
"I'm making sure that their mental is good and right and making sure that the plays is right for them and when they get back--they can just get back rolling, hitting the field running," Dye said.
The 5'10", 200-pound back spent his first couple of seasons at Oregon feeling things out. Now, with Moorhead leading the offense, the frequent use of Dye as a receiver out of the backfield allows him to make a more sizable impact.
"He put me in a position where I can make plays on the ball," he said of Moorhead's scheme. "Where I can get the ball and go into open space, where I live."
Mario Cristobal and Alex Mirabal return their entire starting offensive line and inject tons of young talent up front, setting the stage for a dominant rushing attack. Dye has run behind some talented offensive lines as a Duck, specifically the 2019 unit that was in the running for the Joe Moore award.
He said this year's unit is approaching that standard.
"We're getting to that nastiness on the line and grit."
Teammate CJ Verdell made the decision to return after battling injuries last season, and Dye said he's excited to team up with him for one more run.
"I told him that this one-two punch can keep going and that we're going to be an awesome duo still," Dye said of his tandem with Verdell.
"He's ready to just come out this year and just go off."
Cristobal said earlier in spring ball that he and his staff have gotten creative in practice with the running backs due to injury. The team has a new face in walk-on Aaron Smith from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose (Calif.).
"He surprised the heck out of me," Dye said of the Ducks' new addition. "He's got a build like CJ (listed at 5'10", 205 pounds, and he's a very downhill running back. He picked up the plays really fast--faster than I've ever seen anybody pick up the plays."
Anthony Brown has taken control of the offense so far in spring. Dye also sees greatness in young gunslingers Ty Thompson, Jay Butterfield, and Robby Ashford, but admits he thinks they need time to grow.
"These guys are out the roof talented," he said of Oregon's young quarterbacks. "It's gonna be nice and interesting the next couple years to see who's gonna come out on top after Anthony leaves."
The quarterback battle isn't over by any means, but the Ducks can at least head into another season with a proven duo toting the rock.
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