Oregon Football: What You Need to Know About the Ducks' Offensive Line in 2012
The upcoming college football season will see the Oregon Ducks fielding a new quarterback and a sorta new starting running back. Gone from last year's Rose Bowl-winning offense are also Mr. Clutch, tight end David Paulson (to the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers), and sure-handed Lavasier Tuinei (to the Seattle Seahawks.)
With new starters at these key offensive positions, an experienced O-line will be more important than ever. Lost to graduation was starting tackle Darrion Weems, who was picked up and released by the Minnesota Vikings before eventually finding his way onto the New England Patriots. Weems' buddy on the line, fellow senior Mark Asper, is also gone to the NFL, having been selected by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round.
But even with the loss of such big talents as Weems and Asper, this year's offensive line—while not intact—has experienced players and a very promising newcomer. So, take a deep breath, Duck fans: the O-line looks pretty darn good.
The rock in the middle of the offensive line will once again be Hroniss Grasu. Is it true that Grasu is only a sophomore? Doesn't it seem as if he's already been holding down the fort in the center for years?
After the Rose Bowl, we heard that freshman Grasu was increasingly vocal on the line as the season progressed, even telling Darron Thomas what he thought.
Just think how loud and obnoxious he might be as a know-it-all sophomore. You have to love this 6'3", 284-pound kid.
Grasu has been named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy (center).
This was the last time we saw guard Carson York in a game, being carried off on a stretcher at the Rose Bowl. York sustained a serious knee injury in the third quarter.
But just a little over seven months later, York has said he has recuperated well and expects to play in every game this season. In an interview with Rob Moseley of the Register-Guard, York said he expects "100 percent" to play in the Ducks' opener on September 1.
This is good news, because while the Ducks have a lot of talent on the O-line, York is only one of two seniors who have started for the Ducks. His presence and stability, in light of the departure of Asper and Weems, will be a key.
Tackles Jake Fisher and Nick Cody
The other senior starter along with Carson York on the offensive line is Nick Cody. Cody, along with sophomore Jake Fisher, are the most experienced tackles on the front squad.
Cody started at right tackle in the final 13 games of the season. He is big (6'5", 309 lbs), tough and reliable.
Fisher, 6'6" 279 lbs, is a sophomore, but played in 13 games last year as a true freshman. He often rotated in when Cody came out.
Who are last year's off-the-bench guys who will see action in 2012? Keep reading.
Fighting for a Starting Role
According to his official bio on GoDucks.com, Ryan Clanton was one of the top reserves on the offensive line. He played in 11 games at both tackle and guard.
Clanton also has the distinction of beating all the offensive linemen by bench pressing 395 lbs during winter conditioning.
Everett Benyard III played 14 games coming off the bench, mostly at right tackle.
Karrington Armstrong is a junior who played in eight games last year.
Andre Yruretagoyena, a redshirt freshman from Scottsdale, Arizona, was one of the chosen models to show off one jersey option on Media Day. That must mean he will play a lot, don't you think? The 6'5" 264-pound Yruretagoyena was a consensus 4-star recruit out of high school.
Other guys on the Spring Game depth chart were: Hamani Stevens, James Euscher, Trevor Fox, Jamal Prater, Mana Greig and Tyler Johnstone. Of these players, Stevens has the most experience, playing in eight games last year.
Not playing in the Spring Game, but appearing on the official team roster for 2012 are Matt Pierson, a redshirt freshman from West Linn, Oregon, and Axel McQuaw, a junior from Yachats, Oregon who played in three games last year.
Is there anyone else we should mention? I'm so glad you asked.
It's time to quit pussyfooting around regarding transfer Kyle Long.
Long is the 6'7" 300-pound OL who transferred from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, California. And, in case you've been living in a grass hut in Bora Bora, Kyle Long is also the son of NFL great and Pro Football Hall of Famer Howie Long.
Oregon coaches, players and most reporters keep saying things like "Long provides depth at tackle...could become a starter...we needed another guy at the tackle spot...Long understands what it takes...Kyle is picking up things fast," etc. etc. etc.
C'mon people. Let's get real here.
Kyle Long has one year to impress the pro scouts if he is to fulfill his dream of being selected in next spring's NFL draft. According to The Oregonian's Aaron Fentress, Long has appealed to the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility lost when he sat out a season after leaving FSU. But the outcome of that decision is uncertain, and this might be Long's senior season.
Do you want to tell Howie Long that his kid doesn't start in a year that may be his last chance at college glory?
I didn't think so. Neither does Chip Kelly. Kyle Long starts at offensive tackle, plays brilliantly for the Ducks all season and will be an absolute joy to watch.
End of story.