2014 Season Review: Offensive line
By Rob Moseley
LT: Jake Fisher, Sr.; Andre Yruretagoyena, Jr.; Stetzon Bair, Jr.; Braden Eggert, Fr.; Tyler Johnstone, Jr.
LG: Hamani Stevens, Sr.; Jake Pisarcik, RFr.; Jamal Prater, Jr.; Jim Weber, Fr.; Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia, Fr.
C: Hroniss Grasu, Sr.; Doug Brenner, RFr.; Brigham Stoehr, RFr.
RG: Cameron Hunt, So.; Evan Voeller, RFr.; Haniteli Lousi, Jr.; Tanner Davies, Fr.
RT: Tyrell Crosby, Fr.; Matt Pierson, Jr.; Matt McFadden, So.; Elijah George, RFr.
Starters: Got a few minutes? The story of Oregon’s offensive line in 2014 is the story of a unit constantly shuffling its parts to deal with injuries. Position coach Steve Greatwood managed that task so well, the UO line kept Marcus Mariota upright and mobile on his way to the Heisman Trophy, and helped the Ducks reach the College Football Playoff National Championship game. Along the way, Oregon put up 46 points on Michigan State and 45 on Stanford, illustrating the line’s ability to clear the path for victories against teams with reputations for playing a particularly physical brand of football.
Of the regulars, only Hamani Stevens started every game in the 2014-15 season, and he did so at two positions, taking over at center in the absence of Hroniss Grasu late in the year. Tyler Johnstone never saw the field due to injury, and Jake Fisher missed two midseason games in which Mariota was sacked 12 times – one of them the loss to Arizona. Cameron Hunt responded to not being in the opening game lineup by starting the rest of the way, while Tyrell Crosby and Matt Pierson were thrown into the fire and responded by developing into dependable regulars by midseason.
Reserves: Jake Pisarick and Andre Yruretagoyena were in the opening game lineup but played primarily off the bench, in Greatwood’s regular rotation of seven or eight guys (when Yruretagoyena was healthy). Doug Brenner made one start late in the year at guard, while Stevens was filling in at center, but Brenner also typically played in reserve. Guys like Stetzon Bair, Evan Voeller and Haniteli Lousi were more likely to see action late in a victory. Bair made one of the more selfless contributions to the 2014-15 Ducks, moving over from the defensive line at midseason in the midst of the injuries, and molding himself into a guy capable of getting spot reps on offense by season’s end.
Redshirts: Given the rash of injuries, the scout-team line was essentially down to five players all year. They had to take every snap, day in and day out, against the likes of DeForest Buckner – a second-team all-Pac-12 pick – and Arik Armstead – a potential first-round NFL draft pick. The scouts on the O line had to go hard every rep in order to get those defenders ready to play, and those efforts are to be commended. So, kudos to Braden Eggert, Jim Weber, Brigham Stoehr, Tanner Davies and Matt McFadden. They made the Ducks better.
LT: Tyler Johnstone, Sr.; Stetzon Bair, Sr.; Elijah George, So.; Braden Eggert, RFr.
LG: Matt Pierson, Sr.; Andre Yruretagoyena, Sr.; Jamal Prater, Sr.; Jim Weber, RFr.; Davis Miyashiro-Saipaia, RFr.
C: Jake Pisarcik, So.; Doug Brenner, So.; Brigham Stoehr, So.
RG: Cameron Hunt, Jr.; Haniteli Lousi, Sr.; Zach Okun, Fr.; Tanner Davies, RFr.
RT: Tyrell Crosby, So.; Evan Voeller, So.; Matt McFadden, Jr.
The silver lining of playing a year without Johnstone, and having Crosby and Pierson thrown into the fire at midseason, is that the offensive line’s prospects for 2015 are probably brighter than they might otherwise have been. Johnstone and Crosby are now proven bookend tackles, and Hunt will enter his third year as a starter. Pierson and Yruretagoyena can play guard or tackle, valuable versatility, and Pisarick and Brenner now have starting experience at guard. The question – and it’s a daunting one, no doubt – is how to replace Grasu at center. He was a 52-game starter in his career, a UO record, and he was the leader of the line on and off the field. That’s a huge void to fill. Note that one incoming freshman, Zach Okun, is already enrolled and on track to participate this spring.