What it’s like to play on Oregon’s offensive line

“It’s like a video game in real life, it’s happening right in front of you … it’s crazy.” 

-Oregon center Hroniss Grasu

There’s a drill the Oregon offense does that sums up what they’re trying to do on the field pretty well.

Starting at one end of the field, the Ducks run six plays in a row – no break, just like an ideal situation – to the other end of the field. Then they sprint back to where the drill started as the No. 2 offense does the same thing.

Then they do it again.

There are few things in college football as exciting as watching Oregon’s offense when it’s clicking – the Ducks average over 50 points and over 500 yards of offense per game.

The Ducks offensive line isn’t typical of a college football powerhouse, either. The Ducks front five starters against Kansas State are l292, 311, 294, 305 and 294 pounds.

Maybe that’s because of all that running.

“We’re not typical lineman for our level, weight-wise,” Grasu said. “We’re a little lighter but we’re a little more athletic.”

Offensive lineman are trained at a very early age to never, no matter what, get caught watching one of their teammates breaking off a long run or making a big play. The rule is, to paraphrase Glengarry Glen Ross, Always Be Blocking.

In the Oregon offense, where things happen pretty quickly, that rule needs to be ignored sometimes.

“If I see De’Anthony (Thomas) or Kenjon (Barner) making a big run, I let go of whoever I’m blocking pretty fast,” Oregon guard Ryan Clanton said. “You don’t want to be caught holding, you want to chase them into the end zone.”

From All-Pac 12 quarterback Marcus Mariota’s perspective, that can be kind of a funny thing.

“You see our tackles, Jake (Fisher) and Tyler (Johnstone) and they’re down there like that … Jake even had a touchdown this year running behind De’Anthony, because De’Anthony fumbled and he picked it up in the end zone,” Mariota said. “But the guys in the middle, they’ll usually just turn around and give me some love, too. It’s just fun all around, for everybody.”

 -TA