One of the big questions for the Oregon Ducks this season comes at center, and how to replace the steady leadership of Jordan Holmes up front. Behind Holmes, Oregon had one of the most potent run attacks in the country the past two seasons, finishing in the top 5 in rushing yards per carry both in 2009 and 2010.
This year, Oregon has to replace three of their starting offensive linemen (Holmes, tackles Bo Thran and C.E. Kaiser), and have only three coming back with starter experience--new left tackle Darrion Weems, left guard Carson York, and right tackle Mark Asper. Offensive line coach Steve Greatwood does like to mix and match players throughout camp in multiple positions, so it's not likely that anyone will be beholden to a particular position either in practice or on the playing field.
One new Duck has made a noticeable impression though. Adam Jude of the Eugene Register-Guard reports that Greatwood has named Hroniss Grasu the starting center for the opening game against the LSU Tigers, as Grasu fended off Karrington Armstrong all of training camp. Grasu is a redshirt freshman measuring at 6'3" and weighing 291 pounds, and has proven to be one of the better conditioned linemen on the field.
Still, Grasu has some big shoes to fill in replacing a stalwart like Holmes, who had to replace one of the best centers in Oregon history in Max Unger. How well the young man can handle fierce LSU tackles like Michael Brockers, Josh Down and Bennie Logan will go a long way to deciding whether Darron Thomas, LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner have ample running space inside next Saturday in Cowboys Stadium.
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