Hroniss Grasu Eager to Quiet the Doubters

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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

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Caleb Couturie

Caleb Couturie

Caleb is a sophomore at the University of Oregon intending to double major in Journalism and Sports Management. He is the Managing Editor for FishDuck.com, along with being a lifetime Saints and San Francisco Giants fan, as Caleb fell in love with sports at a young age and developed that love into a passion for sports analysis. He is looking forward to cheering on the Ducks throughout his career at Oregon, and is always willing to talk sports with any fellow fan.

  • worldwidewebfoot

    Hroniss Grasu does a good job and he deserves our confidence. Let me ruminate on a distantly related subject. Sunday afternoon we watched the UO alumni, sorry, I mean the Philadelphia Eagles, run classic Duck football.* They lost to the 49ers, after failing to punch in a potentially winning touchdown from the 49ers 2 yard line. In my opinion, that would have been a good place for Coach Kelly to have called the 2 point conversion play. Simply lining up in that widespread fashion would have confused any current NFL defensive team. And the record of converting it is good: it worked like a charm against Kansas State and Michigan State.
    Lesson for Ducks too: defense getting to Mariota? Roll him out. Or call the 2 point conversion spread!
    *Footnote: NIck Foles is less mobile than Marcus, and throws no better.

  • Caleb

    Hey Worldwide,
    Personally, I could not agree more. Hitting either Zach Ertz or Brent Celek in the opposite back corner of the endzone on a rollout I think would have been pretty easy for Foles. He can put a nice touch on the ball, and one of the tight ends would’ve likely been covered by weak side linebacker Dan Skuta who is a run stop specialist, or maybe even better slot corner/safety Jimmy Ward where they would have had a huge height advantage. Even if that was covered, the ability to then have Darren Sproles, Jeremy Maclin, and Jordan Matthews all on the same side of the endzone would be a coverage nightmare for the 49ers, especially with their surprisingly weak secondary. But where I disagree with you is with the rollouts. In theory it’s totally fine to send your QB on a boot to avoid pressure, but if defenses know that’s your plan to avoid the pressure, they can send corner blitzes that neither Thomas Tyner nor Byron Marshall, who are by no means God’s gift at pass protection, could pick up. The Ducks have to be able to protect Mariota in the pocket, so they can still use the boot as a surprise weapon almost. Mariota is great while out of the pocket, but if a defense is expecting that his danger as a dual threat QB goes way down. That’s my thoughts.

  • Ethan Elson

    we all know the ducks have the talent to go all the way. this season depends on mariota’s and grasu’s emergence as leaders.

  • Caleb

    Hey but don’t forget about the defense. Come playoff time, we’re not going anywhere against the likes of FSU, Bama, Oklahoma, Baylor..etc if our defense can’t make stops. All the teams I just listed have the capability to hold our offense to a certain extent with the exception of Baylor, but all those teams also have way better offenses than WSU, who we just gave up 31 points to. I get Connor Halliday is good, but we have to do better if we’re gonna even think about making it to the playoffs, let alone winning.

  • disqus_Zh8hDRwXyI

    Post AZ comment, seems apparent now that Helfrich does not have a steady hand on the tiller of the ducks ship. He disingenuously took the blame for mistakes that are clearly player mindlessness caused. Doing a gesture that they had previously been flagged for (bowing w/ hands folded) and saying he would talk to TW Jr.- for what that cost the team The player should be running the stairs at Autzen in the same posture. Coddled more than coached, IMHO.