With Signing Day officially in the books, so is the 2012 campaign for Oregon football. However, as one chapter closes another one opens and it's never too early to take a sneak peek at the upcoming season. DuckTerritory's "Offseason Burning Questions" series takes a look at each position on the Oregon depth chart and addresses the biggest questions at each spot, priming Duck fans for what they can perhaps expect in 2013. Today, the series continues with an examination of the offensive line.
Grasu will once again anchor a talented, yet slightly inexperienced Oregon offensive line.
Projected 2013 Depth Chart
T - Everett Benyard - Sr.
T - Cameron Hunt - Fr.
T - Elijah George - Fr.
T/G - James Euscher - So.
T/G - Evan Voeller - Fr.
G - Andre Yruretagoyena - So.
G - Jamal Prater - So.
G/C - Karrington Armstrong - Sr.
G/C - Doug Brenner - Fr.
G/C - Jake Pisarcik - Fr.
How legitimate are depth concerns?
It's by no means an emergency, however Oregon's depth along the offensive line might be best defined as "suspect" heading in to the 2013 season. The Ducks certainly have their pillars in the starting group with stars Tyler Johnstone and Jake Fisher at tackle and Hroniss Grasu at center, but outside of that, not much is readily known about the cast that surrounds them. Mana Greig and Hamani Stevens have a fair share of experience between them, though neither player has been asked to do what will be required of them this season from a regular starter's perspective. Benyard, Armstrong, and Euscher all have experience as well, however their roles will be likely be further expanded, particularly early next season. A rotation of eight experienced veterans isn't a bad start, but Oregon's offensive line depth will assuredly be tested in the event of injury and/or fatigue.
How critical is Mana Greig's health heading in to next season?
Huge, as Oregon's offensive line rotation is already relatively thin with only eight aforementioned players with game experience under their belts. Without Greig -- who is unlikely to be a full participant in spring drills this April coming off a knee injury -- that number drops to seven and if unable to be 100 percent by the start of the season, the Ducks could be staring at significant issues. Indeed, players such as Euscher, Yruretagoyena, and Armstrong are waiting in the immediate wings to take Greig's place if called upon, though replicating Greig's presence will be an uphill battle. Arriving at Oregon as a walk-on in 2009, Greig has emerged as a key cog in the offensive line rotation over the past few seasons and prior to suffering his season-ending injury versus Colorado in October, Greig was one of the more consistent contributors on the Oregon offensive line. While perhaps not an obvious concern, fans of Oregon football should be holding their collective breath that Greig makes a speedy and complete return.
Will any of the true freshman be relied upon?
Given the concerns outlined above, it would be a pretty safe bet. Don't expect Oregon offensive line coach Steve Greatwood to rely on many true freshmen next season, but it should go down a surprise if at least one doesn't see game action. Considering the polish he already possesses, best guess would be that Cameron Hunt would be first in line to hit the field of the five-man group the Ducks signed this past recruiting class, as his size, physicality, and athleticism could be put to good and effective use early in 2013.