To say the Ducks’ offensive line has been through a lot is an understatement. Battling numerous injuries, including those to redshirt junior Tyler Johnstone, redshirt junior Andre Yruretagoyena, senior Jake Fisher and now redshirt senior Hroniss Grasu, the Ducks’ offensive line seems to have had a target on its back from the beginning. Recently, we have seen several new faces filling in these rather large shoes. Despite all the negative press regarding Oregon’s offensive line this season, the Ducks have remained one of the top teams in the country. I’m impressed.
In a post-practice press conference this morning, FishDuck.com reporter Caleb Couturie had a chance to listen to offensive line coach Steve Greatwood speak on the injuries this season to the offensive line and the good news of Yruretagoyena’s anticipated return Saturday against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium.
The 6’5, 290 lb Yruretagoyena and 6’6, 300 lb Fisher bring about a new feel to the line. With both experience and skill, these two linemen play key roles in the Ducks’ offense.
Coach Greatwood says all coaches must prepare for circumstances such as those the Ducks have experienced this season. “We kind of prepare for that all year long, from spring ball on and then making sure guys know multiple positions,” said Greatwood. “I’ve been down this road before — maybe not quite to this extent, but been down this road before. Kids know how to play multiple positions. You cross-train them exactly for these circumstances.”
As for the return of Yruretagoyena, Greatwood couldn’t be more excited to get him back out on the field. “I’m looking forward to it, obviously. It gives us some added depth and stability … I’m definitely ecstatic about the fact that he’s going to be back and playing for us,” Greatwood said.
I feel the offensive line deserves more credit than it has received. In order for QB Marcus Mariota to make those big plays and run the powerful Ducks offense, time is a huge factor for the Heisman hopeful — especially in this effective hurry-up offense.
Saturday’s game against the Buffs will be exciting for these offensive line veterans who will make their way back onto the field. I’m sure Ducks fans everywhere are happy to hear of Yruretagoyena’s return, even if we struggle to pronounce his last name correctly.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline