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Oregon 2014 Football Preview: Offensive Line Returns Five StartersSalem-News.com Sports
An area for improvement, in concert with the rest of the offense, will be red-zone efficiency.
(EUGENE, Ore. ) - All five starters are back, headlined by Hroniss Grasu, who might just be the best center in the country after spurning the NFL draft and remaining in school.
The bookend tackles, Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone, also are multi-year starters, and guards Hamani Stevens and Cameron Hunt are back after solidifying starting spots last season.
Together, the quintet helped Oregon set school records for total offense in a season (7,345 yards) and per game (565.0).
An area for improvement, in concert with the rest of the offense, will be red-zone efficiency, which suffered late in 2013 in part due to line play and also Marcus Mariota’s inability to run after his knee injury.
Stevens was one of the line’s bright spots in spring drills, and he was joined in that regard by Andre Yruretagoyena and Matt Pierson.
Everett Benyard’s graduation requires a new face to back up the tackles, and Yruretagoyena and Pierson seem ready to assume that role.
There’s some good young talent waiting in the wings, in Elijah George and Evan Voeller, but another year of practice while getting some game experience would be beneficial. Two of their classmates, Doug Brenner and Jake Pisarcik, will also look to get their first game experience on the interior of the line.
The Ducks added JC guard Haniteli Lousi in the spring, when he played consistently with the second-string. Matthew McFadden, Jamal Prater and Brigham Stoehr round out the veterans, and figure to be scout-team yeomen again.
Position coach Steve Greatwood added a couple of huge bodies in Tyrell Crosby and Braden Eggert, along with local walk-on Tanner Davies.
Crosby arrived this summer looking big but fit, measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds.
Eggert is the biggest guy on the roster, at 6-6 and 328 pounds, and presumably will shave a few in Oregon’s strength and conditioning program.
What to Watch:
Though all five starters return, it’s no guarantee that’s the group that will open the first game together. Johnstone suffered a knee injury in the Alamo Bowl, and Lousi or Pisarcik could conceivably challenge for a guard spot.
Offensive line is perhaps the toughest spot for a true freshman to break into the lineup, but both Fisher and Hunt have done so recently, perhaps opening the door for Crosby to enter the competition for some backup tackle reps.
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:
LT: Tyler Johnstone, Jr.; Andre Yruretagoyena, Jr.; Elijah George, RFr. ; Matthew McFadden, So. LG: Hamani Stevens, Sr.; Haniteli Lousi, Jr.; Jamal Prater, Jr.; Tanner Davies, Fr. C: Hroniss Grasu, Sr.; Doug Brenner, RFr.; Brigham Stoehr, RFr. RG: Cameron Hunt, So.; Jake Pisarcik, RFr.; Braden Eggert, Fr. RT: Jake Fisher, Sr.; Matt Pierson, Jr.; Evan Voeller, RFr.; Tyrell Crosby, Fr.
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