Ducks fans, rejoice! The bye week is finished and it is time to get back to football. The team took advantage of its time off to get healthy and get practice in with some of the new starters replacing injured Hroniss Grasu and Pharaoh Brown.
Caleb Couturie of FishDuck.com was at the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex after practice today and had a chance to talk to Doug Brenner about his transition to center with Grasu out for Saturday’s game.
Brenner handled the pressure against Utah well after coming off the bench and into the game to replace Grasu, the anchor of the Ducks’ offensive line and Marcus Mariota‘s biggest protector. While Brenner played center in that game, the team doesn’t want to confine the dynamic redshirt freshman to just one role. Brenner told us that he and redshirt senior Hamani Stevens have both been taking reps at center while the other plays guard.
A talented young offensive lineman, Brenner is excited to do whatever he can to help the offense succeed. “I love it. I love center and I love guard,” he told us. During the bye week, Brenner had the chance to work with Mariota on snapping the ball and getting used to the mental challenge that comes with the center position.
Traditionally a guard, he talked about how his role has changed. “Guard is more echoing the center’s calls and relaying the calls to the tackles,” Brenner explained. “At center there’s a lot more calls that set the tone for the rest of the calls that need to be made.”
Although the Ducks will miss Grasu this weekend, they were excited to have offensive lineman Andre Yruretagoyena back in practice today. When they got ready for pass rushing drills, the team cheered at his return. The return of Yruretagoyena is important for a Ducks team pushing for the No. 1 spot in the country. “We love to have Andre back — he’s such a big part of our offensive line,” Brenner said.
Brenner and the rest of the offense are eager to show that, despite the injuries that have plagued them all season, they have the talent to continue the offensive domination for which Oregon is known. With the bye week behind them, the Ducks are ready for the final push of the season, beginning this Saturday in Autzen against Colorado.
Top Photo by Kevin Cline