If you’re a Duck fan, you know that feeling — that of complete and utter hopelessness watching your team blow its playoff and title chances in a Week 4 matchup against lower-tier Pac-12 North foe Washington State. Then you shared the feeling after the game, where you let out a deep sigh of relief and thanked the heavens your Ducks were heading into a bye week to prepare for an equally potent Arizona offense. The way the Ducks played in their last outing isn’t going to cut it, and it starts with our offensive line.
Marcus Mariota was sacked seven times in the Wazzu game, and although some might be quick to blame injuries and lack of experience, Hroniss Grasu didn’t make any excuses. The senior center, who is widely regarded as the nation’s best center and a first-round lock for the NFL, spoke publicly following this week’s practices saying, “Last week we didn’t even come close to our standard.” He went on to say, “Last week’s game doesn’t define us as an offensive line,” but, as he very well knows, if there is going to be a change it all has to start with him. Grasu brings the most experience and knowledge of all Pac-12 teams at his position, and for this young O-Line, his guidance is going to be key if Oregon is going to beat Arizona, let alone UCLA.
Grasu finished saying that he truly believes his line is going to make a big jump this week, going as far as to say, “We could be the best offensive line in the country …” He told his team that progress “starts by believing in ourselves first.” He insisted that the team needs to focus on moving forward and “not worrying about what people outside of the offensive line have to say about us.” If there were ever a man who could turn this season around for the offensive line, it’s Grasu. Time will only tell if the Ducks make that jump, but if they’re going to win a title they have to be able to protect Mariota. A new season starts this Thursday for Grasu and his fellow linemen, and lucky for them they get to take revenge against a Wildcat team that embarrassed our Ducks last year in Tucson.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline