Talk of a shaky spring start for Oregon’s offensive line has been in the air over the past several weeks and the buzz was amplified after the spring scrimmage game. Last year Oregon featured a veteran crew, but this year Oregon’s offensive line is short three graduated seniors; center Jordan Holmes, guard C.E. Kaiser and tackle Bo Thran. This can’t be extreme cause for concern yet because college football is all about a new team with each new season, so the Ducks will go forward with a mix of new talent and veterans. Now O-line coach Steve Greatwood’s focus is to find, among his new crew, the right combination to execute the Duck’s difficult offense.
A lot of focus is put on the center of the offensive line and up until recently the position was thought to be between redshirt freshman Hroniss Grasu, coming in from Encino, CA, and sophomore Karrington Armstrong. A new face has potentially been thrown in the mix; Hamani Stevens, who left the Oregon’s program to go on a church mission, is back and wants to join up with the Ducks again if they will have him. Stevens came to Oregon as the No. 2 recruit in the nation at center and now wants to come back this summer to continue where he left off. Stevens says, “I’m ready to play some ball. I’m really excited.” When 6’4’’ Stevens left the Ducks he came in at 290 pounds so at his current weight of 305 there would be a focus on conditioning and there is no guarantee that the center position is where he would fit best on the current Oregon roster.
The bottom line is that with a younger offensive line comes more speculation of what the season will bring. The LSU defense is big and it will be a huge test for the Ducks as well as a possible precursor to the rest of the season. The group will have to look for consistency from the O-line upperclassmen Darrion Weems (senior), Mark Asper (senior) and Carson York (junior), and the new guys will have to step up. For now, as spring ends, Greatwood will continue to put the O-line to the test in practice and hammer out the best mixture for game time. It will take a combination of skill, preparedness and chemistry and so far Greatwood’s goal is for the offensive line to be over-prepared commenting, “We want to make it tougher in practice than it’s going to be in a game.” All three components will be put to the test on September 3rd and hopefully Greatwood can come up with that magical combination.