Oregon offensive line coming together ahead of California

By EFN Staff
Published: 10/22/2014

Any team in college football that suffered the loss of their four top offensive tackles and only had two linemen remain healthy through their first seven games of the season would be in trouble. Luckily for Oregon a strong defense, great skill position players, and perhaps the best quarterback at the collegiate level has kept the Ducks afloat entering the California (4-3) matchup with a 6-1 record.

The return of senior offensive tackle Jake Fisher has also coincided with the explosion in the Ducks’ running attack led by true freshman Royce Freeman. In a 31-24 home loss to Arizona without Fisher, the Ducks ran for a respectable 144 yards with Freeman leading the way picking up 85 yards on 19 carries. Against UCLA in Fisher’s return, Oregon rushed for 328 yards dominating the Bruins front seven getting 121 yards and two scores from Freeman and another 75 yards and two scores from Mariota.

A 45-20 home win over Washington continued the heavy running trend getting another 218 yards on the ground with Freeman becoming a workhorse adding 169 yards on 29 carries with four touchdowns.

Senior center Hroniss Grasu and guard Hamani Stevens have helped hold down the offensive line while line coach Steve Greatwood was forced to put a heavy load on freshman Tyrell Crosby and walk-on Matt Pierson. The development of Cameron Hunt and Jake Pisarcik has made the Ducks deeper and a step ahead in development for the 2015 season.

Oregon has the nation’s 15th ranked passing offense (309.7) and the 31st ranked rushing offense (217.3). Cal does a strong job of shutting down rushing attacks allowing just 133.3 yards per game but is statistically the worst pass defense in the nation allowing 391.7 yards per game. One could argue that Cal has not seen a rushing attack on the level of Oregon’s yet this year.

Come Friday plenty of offense will be on display. Whichever defensive coordinator that can scheme up some stops after a week without sleep fretting about the opposition’s offense will have their team in position to win.

For Oregon, at least their offensive line is returning to form. Having Fisher back protecting Mariota’s blind side can only help elevate the Ducks’ passing attack.

Photo credit: nfl.com; No. 75 Jake Fisher