Finally, it’s game day, ladies and gentleman — and a special one, as it’s senior day and the last home game of the season (and most likely Marcus Mariota’s last home game as well, as he’s expected to enter the 2014 NFL Draft). Here are three aspects to be cognizant of before watching Saturday’s game:
1. Pharaoh Brown’s Replacement
There has been a lot of speculation regarding who will replace the injured tight end. The candidates include sophomores Evan Baylis and Johnny Mundt, and junior Koa Ka’ai. Baylis is a dynamic player who’s both big and physical, but is unable to run routes efficiently in order to catch passes down the field. Mundt is the most recognized of the replacements for Brown because the stellar game he had last year against Tennessee, but lacks strength in blocking for opening holes in run plays. Due to his status as a junior, Ka’ai is the most experienced, but he’s a long shot as his size presents an issue in the passing game. We’ll have to wait and see!
2. Hroniss Grasu’s Replacement
Another big question swirling around is who will emerge as the center Grasu’s replacement. Freshman Doug Brenner stepped in for Grasu when he went down at Utah and is most likely to be the starter at center today. Throughout the last two weeks, the coaching staff and key players of the team, including Grasu, have praised the freshman for the amount of dedication and time he’s put into filling Grasu’s roll. However, Grasu is recognized as one of the best centers in the country, and there’s a lot of pressure on Brenner’s shoulders to not only fill his void, but to play with same explosiveness and passion Grasu possessed during a game.
3. Royce Freeman Can Reach a Big Milestone
Freeman is within reach of rushing 1,000 yards within one season — something only 16 Oregon greats have accomplished. Freeman is currently 55 yards away from accomplishing this impressive goal, which only one other freshman player has reached during his stint with the Ducks, LaMichael James. With only two games left in the regular season, there’s no doubt that Freeman will achieve this goal as he represents a true threat to any team defensively because of his powerful running plays.
With Brown’s replacement still unknown, doubts about Brenner, and Freeman’s close goal, it will be an interesting game. Although Oregon is not playing a big school that’s well recognized for its football program, Colorado will do anything to destroy the Ducks’ dreams of reaching the College Football Playoff. We’ll all look forward to watching our Ducks’ hard work and preparation pay off.
Top Photo by Craig Strobeck