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Oregon Football: 4 Ducks Who Need a Big Game Against Washington

Nathan LoweryCorrespondent IAugust 11, 2016

Oregon Football: 4 Ducks Who Need a Big Game Against Washington

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    Long have experts predicted the day that Washington would once again beat Oregon.

    Coming off an upset win over No.8 Stanford might give the Huskies the momentum to beat the Ducks for the first time in eight years, though Washington is still the overwhelming underdog in this contest.

    Oregon is one of the deepest teams in the nation. If one player falls, another Duck rises to take his place. But these four players will need to play well to help the Ducks avoid the upset.

Hroniss Grasu

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    Hroniss Grasu has been an absolute disappointment this season.

    In his second year as a starter, Grasu was named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, the award given to the best center in the nation.

    Instead, Grasu has struggled with snaps, and freshmen quarterback Marcus Mariota is struggling because of that.

    Grasu was beat up front all night long by Washington State, giving Mariota the worst performance we've seen from him in his short career.

    With Washington's secondary being so talented, the run game will need to be a major emphasis for the Ducks. Mariota needs to have confidence in his offensive line in order to implement more zone reads into the offense.

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu

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    Washington's QB Keith Price is one of the nations most underrated passers, and if he is not kept in check, it could be a long night for the Ducks.

    Ekpre-Olomu has steped up and become a leader for the secondary after the season ending injury to John Boyett. He has become one of the nation's premier shut down corners.

    In my preview of the Washington game I said Ekpre-Olomu was the Oregon player everyone should keep their eye on, and I'm sticking to that statement.

    Ekpre-Olomu has to put the Huskies No.1 receiver Kasen Williams on his island, and keep Price from passing to his favorite target.

Colt Lyerla

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    Colt Lyerla is an absolute monster on the field.

    He can make a difference as a blocker, runner, receiver and could even play linebacker for the Ducks if needed.

    He's that athletic.

    Against the Huskies, Lyerla is going to be called upon to use his big frame in the passing game, to give Mariota a big target to lob the ball to if pressure is coming. 

    Mariota has the ability to make the first tackler miss if Oregon's offensive line continues to let defenders into the backfield.

Kenjon Barner

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    Barner has been on an absolute roll this season.

    Well, when the Ducks actually use him.

    Barner is sixth in the nation with 605 yards this season, impressive numbers, but what's most impressive, is that he's only been used in two games.

    Against Tennessee Tech, Arkansas State and Arizona, Barner was hardly used at all, and managed to total only 209-yards rushing in those three games.

    If Washington's Desmond Trufant continues to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks and receivers, the run game is going to be a huge key for Oregon's offense come Saturday night, so Barner must continue to play well.

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