Photo by Andrew Giesemann
Oregon Football

Spring Review: Linebackers

May 13, 2019

It’s been a long time since Duck fans had much confidence in the linebackers. The Ducks have been steadied by Troy Dye in the middle of the defense since his arrival. But at times, he’s been a one-man show.

Last year Oregon had a little more talent but still had issues with depth. Once injuries started happening, that starting group took a noticeable dip at times. That’s been the case for the least 4 or 5 years at Oregon at least. 

Thankfully Dye returns for Oregon and is expected to be the anchor in the middle. With Dye at inside linebacker, he has the instincts and ability to cover a lot of ground. He’s a tackling machine and a disruptive force when he brings pressure. 

When he was healthy, Isaac Slade-Matautia was a key force with the linebackers. This year he’s expected to take that next leap forward. Although undersized a bit, ISM plays hard and loves to chase down the ball just like Dye. This is a very formidable 1-2 punch for Oregon. 

Adrian Jackson also figures to be a key part of the rotation at linebacker. Whether he’ll be inside or outside remains to be seen. Jackson has the rare type of athleticism to play both and at a high level.

Ge’mon Eaford and Dru Mathis both signed early with Oregon. And like Jackson, they could both play inside or outside. Eaford is already listed at 6-foot-1, 232 pounds. Sl he can be that ‘thumper’ in the middle the Ducks might be looking for. 

Dru Mathis has raised a ton of eyebrows this Spring already. From multiple reports Mathis has proven to be a tireless worker each day. That kind of hard work will be what really pays off next season. 

The outside appears to be a wide open competition. With Jutin Hollins off to the NFL, that leaves a big vacancy. La’mar Winston was another key part of this linebacker group last season, he’ll be counted on again this season. 

With the Ducks also shifting defensive aligments a little, that will also be a factor in who lands where and who is starting as the Ducks hopt to utilize its best starting 11. 

Andrew Johnson will be fighting for playing time as well. There remains a ton of optimism around Johnson after he signed with the Ducks out of Georgia as a part of the 2018 class. 

Did you think I would forget about Mase Funa? With the big time four-star coming off his ACL injury, the Ducks could bring him along slowly if he needs a little extra recovery time. But I’m going to bet he’s going to be tough to keep off the field. 

Oregon looks to have transformed this group in just two short years of recruiting cycles. 

Tags: Football, Oregon
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