Injuries are always key in winning. The average viewer might have thought Rich Rodriguez just always has the right game plan against Oregon after beating them for two straight seasons; however, nature sometimes plays a role. In the game against Arizona, we saw a battered Oregon offensive line. Credit to some of the backups, as they played their hearts out. Mariota, however, wasn’t 100 percent before the game after being sacked for seven times against Washington State. What this means for the team, as they recover, has yet to be seen.
Among the offensive linemen, two starters still available for Oregon. Center Hroniss Grasu and left guard Hamani Stevens remain the only players to start every game this season at offensive line.
So when will our injured Ducks be back out on the field?
Left tackle Tyler Johnstone, one of the 15 players from the Pac-12 on the preseason Lombardi watch list, will be out for the season.
Some touted him as a first round draft pick, but with a tearing of his ACL for the second time in less than a year, Johnstone will have to wait another year before showing us the talent that so many pro football analysts have observed. Thankfully, the Ducks knew of this injury before South Dakota, so they had his backup established long before the game against Arizona.
But Andre Yruretagoyena, the one who was supposed to be Johnstone’s backup, has also been injured. Yruretagoyena has had looks at both left and right tackle positions in an effort to make up for the losses on both sides. Out with a foot injury, the man who bears the long last name says he is “definitely” going to return this season after an injury to his right leg that caused him to be carted off the field in the game against Michigan State.
Jake Fisher, who has also flip-flopped between left and right tackle, is the third man out with a leg injury, which he suffered against Wyoming. Fisher says he is taking this injury “day-by-day” and hopes to be back out there soon. However, the expectation of finishing the season with four of the five projected starting offensive linemen looks to be a reality.
The defense also took a hit recently: Defensive lineman Arik Armstead exited the game against Arizona with an injury to his ankle. The former two-sport athlete for the Ducks is high on many scouting draft boards and previously planned to enter the draft after this season. You would think that Armstead would be available for the game against UCLA after walking off the field (with a limp) under his own ability against U of A.
So how will the Ducks fare now? We’ve seen them prevail against Washington State with a battered offensive line, and the same offensive line did better against Arizona … but the Ducks suffered their first defeat on the season. Heading into UCLA, a team that is also coming off of an unexpected loss, the Ducks look for hope somewhere other than their currently beaten-up offensive and defensive lines, as they are, at least currently, a bit worse for wear.
Top photo by Kevin Cline