The Ducks will kick off practice for the 2013 season on Monday, Aug. 5. Over the next two weeks I'll preview each position group, offering my own analysis and projected depth chart, keeping in mind that the team doesn't actually have an official depth chart at this point.
Projected depth chart
LT: Tyler Johnstone, So.; James Euscher, So.; Matt Pierson, So.; Evan Voeller, Fr.
LG: Mana Greig, Sr.; Cameron Hunt, Fr.; Matt McFadden, RFr.; Brandon Thomas, Jr.
C: Hroniss Grasu, Jr.; Karrington Armstrong, Sr.; Doug Brenner, Fr.
RG: Hamani Stevens, Jr.; Andre Yruretagoyena, So.; Jamal Prater, So.; Jake Pisarcik, Fr.
RT: Jake Fisher, Jr.; Everett Benyard, Sr.; Elijah George, Fr.; Brian Teague, Sr.
KNOWN QUANTITIES: The Ducks have a very strong top seven to nine guys, led by all-conference caliber center Hroniss Grasu and tackles Jake Fisher and Tyler Johnstone. Grasu enters his third year as a starter, the leader of this position group. Fisher is a mauler at right tackle, Johnstone an athletic presence out on the left edge. If he's healthy enough, Mana Greig figures to be a strong contender for one of the two guard positions vacated when Kyle Long and Ryan Clanton graduated; Greig had been a starter following the injury to Carson York, before his own knee injury cleared the way for Long to move from tackle to guard. Greig didn't play in the spring game but attended summer conditioning sessions. Hamani Stevens, the group's weight-room phenom now that Clanton has departed, has ample experience as a reserve the last two years, the rationale for penciling him in atop the depth chart above.
But there are other able candidates to contend for the guard spots, too. Everett Benyard is another very experienced career reserve who might be ready for a prime role this fall. Sophomores James Euscher and Andre Yruretagoyena, meanwhile, look ready to take the next step in their careers as well. The five projected starters listed above, plus Benyard and backup center/guard Karrington Armstrong, form a very solid top seven, and continued development by Euscher and Yruretagoyena in August would make it nine reliable players in the rotation who have game experience.
NEW FACES: A big, talented class of recruits has been on hand since the summer getting their collegiate indoctrination. The group includes highly rated signees Cameron Hunt, Evan Voeller and Doug Brenner, and talented under-the-radar additions Jake Pisarcik and Elijah George. If all the returning veterans progress well enough early this season, the Ducks might be able to afford to redshirt the entire group. But a couple of injuries — or the emergence of a freshman who proves himself ready to play immediately, as Fisher did in 2011 — could of course change that.
TO BE DETERMINED: How the two-deep shakes out, beginning with the guards. Also, whether one of the freshmen, if not more, finds his way into the conversation. And then, as is the case at several other positions, there's the specter of how the 2014 NFL draft might impact this group. Both Grasu and Fisher have been mentioned as possible candidates for early consideration in the draft as juniors next spring. Putting the cart way ahead of the horse: If Grasu were to depart, who is Oregon's center in 2014?
ESPN's Pac-12 blog says: The Ducks are in great shape at offensive line.
Coming up tomorrow: Defensive line
Preseason camp preview: Offensive line
Release Date: 07/29/2013