FishDuck.com writer Omar Garibay-Diaz spoke with Oregon’s starting center Hroniss Grasu Tuesday outside the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.
The time has almost come. Friday the Oregon Ducks will march down to Santa Clara to face the Cal Golden Bears in the first-ever college game at Levi’s Stadium. Last year, the Bears only won one game all season under new coach Sonny Dykes and freshman quarterback Jared Goff. This year, however, Cal is a new and improved team that has fought hard in every game. For Oregon, the key to jumping on the Bears quickly is a great early run game, and that all starts with the offensive line.
Grasu strongly emphasized how the Bears have improved immensely over the past year in terms of running the football on offense.
“The center and the guards are definitely getting off the ball and are quick,” Grasu said. Throughout the year, the Ducks’ defense has struggled with getting to the opposing quarterback and stopping pass-oriented offenses. With a speedy center and guards, the Bears’ offensive line seems to have the upper hand in terms of exploding off the ball and giving Goff more time to seek his open receivers. To emerge with a victory, Oregon ultimately needs to step up its game and be very aggressive defensively.
Grasu was asked about the competitive atmosphere, as well as the absence of a lot of Duck fans. He said it would be important for the Ducks to create their own energy.
“That’s what we do at practice, so we’ve got to do that on the road,” Grasu said. His words are music to Duck fans’ ears, because that’s the attitude of a playoff-caliber team. The Ducks will need to carry the energy and excitement they have every day during their practices and go all-out against the Bears. The only question is: Can they finish the game with that same intensity?
With the match-up against the Golden Bears quickly approaching, the Ducks will have these last couple crucial days to reel in their focus and, most importantly, prepare to continue their long winning streak against Cal. It’s encouraging to hear directly from one of the leaders of the team that the Ducks are taking preparation for this game seriously. Representing Oregon at center for four years is no easy task, and playing a role as a mentor to younger players has given Grasu the respect he deserves inside the locker room. Let’s just hope the rest of the team comes out ready to play as hard as Grasu this Friday.
Top photo by Craig Strobeck