It is always a sad week when we don’t have a Duck football game to look forward to in order to keep us going through the week. This Saturday the Ducks will have their second bye week of the season and they will not be complaining about the extra time to prepare for Colorado on November 22. Yes, that’s right, the Ducks who have thrashed dominant defenses in the forms of Stanford and Washington are not taking their match-up against a Colorado defense ranked 120th in points allowed lightly.
The bye week will give Coach Helfrich and the rest of the staff time to get those players stepping up for a battered Duck team time to get comfortable in a starting role. Possibly the most important player in the coming weeks will be redshirt freshman Doug Brenner who came in against Utah when Hroniss Grasu went out of the game.
Grasu has started 50 consecutive games and the chemistry between him and Heisman candidate Marcus Mariota is a big part of what keeps the Ducks rolling. Brenner did well against Utah with the exception of some low snaps; time this week playing at center willcertainly help him to expand his role as a play-anywhere guy for the Duck’s offense.
Brenner has at least been on the field this year, filling in for injured players but the Ducks are going to have a harder time replacing tight end Pharaoh Brown who will be out for the remainder of the season.
Jason Gold wrote a piece for Bleacherreport.com about some of the options the Ducks have to fill the gap left by Brown. Sophomore Johnny Mundt is a likely candidate as he got some playing time last year, including a 121 yard, two touchdown performance against Tennessee. The Ducks also have options in redshirt sophomore Evan Baylis and redshirt junior Koa Ka’ai. Unfortunately, none of these three has had much opportunity to get playing time behind Brown this season.
Coach Helfrich knew that he was going to have to replace Grasu at the end of the season and very likely Brown within the next year. We can be sure that he didn’t plan on finding their replacements with his team five wins from a national title, but just as they have done all season, the Ducks will find a way to succeed. With a soft match-up against Colorado and a bitter rivalry game against Oregon State to finish their season, the Ducks are looking to solidify their team and make the push to achieve greatness as National Champions.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline