Oregon Ducks spring football preview: Offensive line

Oregon Ducks spring football preview: Offensive line
March 28, 2014, 10:45 am
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Oregon Ducks tight end Colt Lyerla (15), offensive linesman Jake Fisher (75), offensive linesman Ryan Clanton (60), offensive linesman Kyle Long (74), and offensive linesman Hroniss Grasu (55) look back to the sidelines prior to snapping the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats in the Fiesta Bowl.

Oregon begins spring football practices Tuesday with the spring game set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 3. In the coming days we will offer a position-by-position look at the team as it prepares for spring drills.

Today: Offensive line.

Projected starters: Hroniss Grasu, center, RSr., 6-3, 297 (Encino, Calif.); Tyler Johnstone, tackle, RJr., 6-6, 277 (Chandler, Ariz.); Jake Fisher, tackle, Sr., 6-6, 293 (Traverse City, Mich.); Hamani Stevens, guard, RSr., 6-3, 312 (Hemet, Calif.); Cameron Hunt, guard, So., 6-4, 282 (Corona, Calif.).

Key backups: Matt Pierson, RJr. 6-6, 267 (West Linn); Andre Yruretagoyena, RJr., 6-5, 284 (Scottsdale, Ariz.).

What we know: The Ducks return all five starters from the Alamo Bowl after a season in which the Ducks ranked ninth in the nation in rushing (273.5 yards per game). Grasu, Fisher and Johnstone all have NFL potential and seven years of combined starting experience.

What we'd like to know: Can the coaches teach some old Ducks new tricks? Grasu vowed that the line would improve following what was for Oregon a down year in the trenches. The Ducks weren't as dominant upfront as they were during the team's run four consecutive BCS bowl game appearances.

Fisher, Grasu and Johnstone contributed to some of those BCS teams but also were involved in last season's sub-par play. Across the line the Ducks must get stronger and become more aggressive in order to push the team's rushing numbers closer to 300 yards per game.

Guard play was of particular concern. Hunt, who started games at guard as a true freshman last year, has beefed up about 18 pounds according to his listed weight on the team's roster. That's a positive start.

What we hope to know: Oregon has 15 offensive linemen on the roster, but little is known about most of the backups. Oregon will lose three senior starters following next season (Grasu, Fisher and Stevens) so a pipeline of replacements must be developed this spring. Last year's four-star recruit, Evan Voeller, and Pisarcik, a three-star recruit, along with Pierson and Yruretagoyena are candidates to be future starters.

Past positions previewed

Quarterbacks.

Running backs.

Wide receivers/tight ends.