Oregon Ducks' Offensive Line a Question Mark for This Season?
If any two facets of a football team carry more importance than the others, they would have to be the offensive and defensive lines.
Others would argue that the quarterback or running back, or even the secondary are the most important.
How effective can a quarterback be if he is constantly being sacked by the opposing team?
How effective can a running back be if he cannot make it past the line of scrimmage?
How effective can a secondary be if the opposing quarterback is never pressured by the defensive line?
The Oregon Ducks possessed one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation last season. All the praise that surrounded the likes of Jeremiah Masoli, Jeremiah Johnson, LeGarrette Blount, and Ed Dickson would have been non-existent if it had not been for the man pictured above, Max Unger, and his offensive line.
For those who don't know who Unger is, he was the man in the middle for the Ducks.
As center, he anchored the Ducks' offensive line that allowed only 20 sacks in 2008. From that same offensive line, the Ducks have also graduated Fenuki Tupou, Mark Lewis, and Jeff Kendall.
The staggering amount of losses would seem crippling to the Ducks' offense. However, since Mike Bellotti became the head coach at Oregon, the Ducks have had a deep offensive line.
This year proves to be no different.
Starting at center this year will be junior Jordan Holmes, who has four career starts for the Ducks.
At the guard positions, sophomore Mark Asper, with one career start, will be starting at right guard, and redshirt freshman Carson York, will be starting his first game for the Ducks on Sept. 3, 2009, when the Ducks travel to Boise, ID to avenge last year's loss in Autzen at the hands of the upstart Boise State Broncos.
At the tackle positions, junior C.E. Kaiser, with 10 career starts, will be starting at right tackle, and junior Bo Thran, with five career starts, will be starting at left tackle.
It seems the only question mark on this year's Ducks offensive line would be redshirt freshman Carson York, who is the only starting lineman to not have any starting experience. In fact, Sept. 3 will be York's first game.
Rated by rivals.com as a four-star recruit, York may be the only starting offensive lineman without any starting experience, but when your offensive line coach is Steve Greatwood, York should not have too much trouble preparing for his first start.
It's a fact to say that the Boise State vs Oregon game will be one of the biggest in school history for both teams.
Both squads are rated in the Top 20 in both ESPN's Power Rankings, and the latest USA Today poll.
Some analysts have stated that even though Oregon has two talented running backs in LeGarrette Blount and LaMichael James, they will have trouble running the ball due to the inexperience of their offensive line.
Oregon's offensive line may not be the most experienced in terms of games started, but nearly every one of the Ducks' starters have played in big games last season.
The starting numbers do not carry heavily in their favor, but talent, heart, grit, determination, and coaching do.
Another factor that will work in the Ducks' favor is that the Broncos will be without two of their defensive tackles.
Head Coach Chris Petersen has suspended Michael Atkinson following a DUI arrest, and now, the Broncos have lost Greg Grimes for four-to-six weeks with a leg injury.
Well, looks like Petersen is capable of suspending people. Now he needs to crack down on cheap shots.
With a depleted defensive line, Oregon's "inexperienced" but talented offensive line should not have much trouble opening holes for running backs LaMichael James and LeGarrette Blount to run through.
Of course, Blount could also revert to running people over. Whatever works, right?
All in all, expect a good first game from the Ducks. Oregon's offensive line will be ready, but will Boise State's defensive line be?
As of now, that answer sounds like a no.
This season is going to be a great one, no doubt about it.
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