Steve Greatwood: Building Depth and Continuity on Offensive Line

Jordan Ingram interviewed Oregon Football offensive line coach Steve Greatwood yesterday for FishDuck.com at the University of Oregon’s Hatfield-Dowlin Complex.

An offensive line often gets little or no credit for a football team’s success – and with a spread team that scores points in bunches, that underappreciation is even more true. But no group is more paramount to Oregon’s success than the offensive line. After last year’s injury-filled season and the departure of three starters from last year, this spring is about building depth and improving the execution by the offensive line.

In typical Oregon fashion, offensive line coach Steve Greatwood‘s goal is to keep his players constantly learning. “I told the guys before I even started this spring that I was just going to shuffle the deck and wasn’t going to let them get comfortable with anything.”

That means the Duck linemen have been practicing in multiple positions, which is something that has enabled Oregon to build depth, in case of injury or fatigue experienced during previous seasons. And when asked how the players responded to practicing at various positions, Greatwood went on to say, “I think they responded with it well. It forces them to kind of learn the big picture rather than just by memory what they’re supposed to do.”

Doug Brenner will be healthy for the start of the 2015 season.

Craig Strobeck

Doug Brenner will be healthy for the start of the 2015 season.

Sophomore Doug Brenner, the probable starter at center, is nursing off-season ankle surgery and is not participating in spring practice. In the meantime, Greatwood is looking to build depth and confidence with other players at center. “Cameron [Hunt] has been working there as well as the tackle spot. Jake Pisarcik has been working at center. We’ve had Matt Pierson working at center, as well as Zach Okun.”

He went on to say, “Even when Doug gets back we’ve still got to develop depth there. I need three able bodied guys that you have to have confidence in snapping the ball in a game situation.”

If spring is about building depth and continuity, what does that mean for the few freshmen linemen who aren’t on campus yet? “They’re chomping at the bit to get here and I’m looking forward to having them here. The last several years we had true freshmen on the offensive line step up and play significant roles for us; Jake Fisher and obviously Cameron Hunt, and then Tyrell [Crosby] for us last year. I think there might be one or two that can help us this year.”

Oregon lineman celebrate after a touchdown.

Craig Strobeck

Oregon lineman celebrate after a touchdown.

The injuries the Ducks’ O-line suffered last season should help Oregon better prepare for any similar occurrences this year.

But coach Greatwood hasn’t looked ahead to the fall just yet. “I’m excited to get into fall, but I’m excited to continue to watch us grow in the spring. I enjoy this time of year. I continue to watch improvement both technically and physically, really counting on these guys to have a great off-season.

“Fall will get here fast enough, then we’ll be looking down both barrels at our upcoming opponents, and I’m confident by that point in time we’ll have developed the depth and continuity, we need to have a great season.”

The 2015 season is just on the horizon, which means it’s almost time to chase another Pac-12 title and another berth in the College Football Playoff. But for now, much like Steve Greatwood, the focus is on spring practice and the May 2 spring game.

Top Photo by Kevin Cline

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