Remembering the Offensive Line: A Look towards 2015

stanford@oregon2014_kc-43

If there was a weakness for the Ducks last year, it was without a doubt, the offensive line. As difficult as it is to say, the line play is the reason we lost the Arizona game, and almost lost against Washington State. But when we got healthy, we were once again the usual explosive offense us Duck fans were used to. Three seniors are gone now, so what does the offensive line look like for 2015?

Hamani Stevens was the oldest Duck on the offensive line, arriving at the program in 2008.

Craig Strobeck

Hamani Stevens was the oldest Duck on the offensive line, arriving at the program in 2008. He served a Mormon mission from 2009-2010 before earning playing time and becoming the starter.

The offensive line is usually a strength for Oregon, and I’m here to let you know it will be again in 2015. Even with seniors Hroniss Grasu (C), Hamani Stevens (G), and Jake Fisher (T) all gone due to graduation, the necessary shuffle from last season’s injuries will only help the Ducks this year. Freshman Tyrell Crosby (who made his first ever appearance at Washington State following injuries to tackles Jake Fisher, Andre Yruretagoyena, and Tyler Johnstone) played in all the following games and improved tremendously. Add him with the return of 2015 seniors Johnstone, Yruretagoyena, and walk-on Matt Pierson, and those four should provide solid depth at the outside of the offensive line.

As for the interior of the line, Cameron Hunt, who will be a junior in 2015, started last season opposite Stevens at right guard; so it’s likely he will start again this year. Sophomore-to-be Jake Pisarcik was second on the depth chart last year and will have a good chance to earn a starting spot for next season. Those two starters, plus some inexperienced freshman reserves from last season and incoming freshman Zach Okun, and Oregon should be just fine at the middle of the offensive line.

Hroniss Grasu was the leader of the offensive line over the past four years.

Kevin Cline

Hroniss Grasu was a four-year starter at center

As for center, replacing a four year starter, three time Pac-12 All-American, two time national All-American and future NFL draft pick Hroniss Grasu will be no easy task. Luckily for us, we have another stud waiting to shine. Sophomore Doug Brenner was ready to start last year if Grasu left early for the NFL, according to coaches, and eventually got to start due to Grasu’s injury late in the year. It should be fairly certain he will start at center in 2015.

It’s not even spring practice yet, so it is way to early to tell who will be the starters come September, but it’s fun to speculate. Barring an injury filled season like last year, the Ducks should have another great offensive line with a good mix of youth and experience. The Ducks have the weapons at receiver and running back, but it’s up to the line to open running lanes or pass protect long enough to give the new quarterback needed time. Spring practice and fall camp will answer most of the questions we have leading into this year. This will be fun.

Top photo by Kevin Cline

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Nik Brownlee

Nik Brownlee

University of Oregon alumnus and Duck football fanatic. Born in Eugene and raised in Autzen Stadium, sports are the foundation for who I am. Passionate about fitness, the outdoors and making people laugh. If I'm not talking about sports, chances are I'm listening to my music too loud.

  • MAITAIDUCK

    Nik I’m hearing some rumors and they might just be that but Johnston moving to Center for his final season. This makes sense because usually Oregon recruits players for the O Line who can play at least 2 positions on the line. If Johnston can get his weight up to around 305 he would surely be the best option fore that position because Tyrell Crosby should win the LT spot and he will be elite this year. The Ducks new what they were getting with Crosby as in a future 1st team PAC 12 Lineman. Also Okun could very well play at Center too. If Brenner was as good as your claiming I believe he would of started when Grasu was injured but instead Hamani played there until the Rose Bowl. Good stuff none the less and alll of us Oregon faithful should be extremely amped about how good this team could become. Go Ducks!

    • Nik Brownlee

      I totally agree about Crosby, that guy is going to be a stud. He improved tremendously and was a huge force in the Rose Bowl. And Oregon does have a bunch of guys who can play multiple positions on the offensive line, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some shuffling game to game. Like you said, this team could be really good, it’s an exciting time for us. Thanks for the read and Go Ducks!

    • Maitai! Good stuff, as Johnstone, I believe, has faster feet for getting to the corner than Brenner and he is a good match-up for that position in terms of athleticism. You are right though…to take on the Nose Tackles out there–he can’t be 285 as in the past.