Imagine this: Oregon loses to Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Allow that to sink into your mind for a second. Now, what if I told you that the Ducks lost to the Seminoles because of the poor support Marcus Mariota was getting from his offensive line. Most Duck or football fans in general should not be surprised if this is the case come Thursday, January 1st at 5:00 p.m. The most obvious reason why this shouldn’t be a surprise is the fact that Oregon’s offensive line has been dealing with a plethora of injuries that have ultimately affected the team’s performance on the field.
Take a look at the Arizona game during the regular season, for instance. Due to the absence of key offensive players such as Jake Fisher, the Wildcats were able to hold Oregon to a season low 6.03 yards per play. Although I despise going back to this game as it’s the Ducks only loss of the season, it shows that when Oregon’s offensive line is banged up, the whole team plummets to the ground.
Even though there are tons of questions about Oregon and if they’re capable of beating a championship caliber team in the Seminoles, the ultimate question going into the match-up is whether the offensive line can continue protecting Mariota in the pocket so he can either complete a pass or run with the ball. Let’s take a close look at what the Ducks’ O-line has in store for January 1st. The biggest thing they will need to keep their eye out for is #15, Mario Edwards Jr., who has emerged as one of the nation’s top defensive ends in college football. So far this season, the junior standout has registered three sacks and two QB hurries so far this season.
Although many of you may think, so what’s the big deal? What Duck fans must realize is that Edwards is a true, dominant force for the Seminoles’ defense. During the Rose Bowl, it will be important that Duck fans keep their eye on OL Jake Fisher as he takes on Edwards. When all is said and done, it’s evident that Fisher is going to have his hands full.
Out of all the College Football Playoff and bowl games, the match-up between the Ducks and the Seminoles is the most exciting, as both teams possess excellent football programs. What Oregon should be most concerned about is how they’re going to deal with the Seminoles’ defensive line, as well as their secondary in DB Jalen Ramsey for instance. With the Ducks’ offensive line allowing Mariota to be sacked 29 times this season, there’s obviously a lot of assignments and tasks that need to be taken into consideration before the January 1st game. At the end of the day, this aspect is a major concern for Oregon and as fans we can only hope that they solve it.
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