Oregon feels it can go eight deep on the offensive line in 2023
Oregon had one of the very best offensive lines in college football last season. Arguably the best. It was a huge reason for Bo Nix’s success, and a primary driver of the 10-win campaign.
But it was a veteran line. And it’ll look much different in 2023.
Despite new faces all over, offensive coordinator Will Stein feels good about the unit as the new season approaches.
“I think we can roll eight deep. I really do,” Stein said Monday.
Expect to see a ton of different configurations when the Ducks open the year on Sept. 2 against Portland State.
“The only way to really get in the shape is to play real football. We can scrimmage all we want, we can practice all we want, but until we put the pads on and go in Autzen Stadium and go on the turf, with that type of energy, is when you really know what you’re made of up front,” Stein said. “But I feel good about our depth. A lot of guys have played and there’s been some newcomers come on that we’re excited about.”
The Ducks have Josh Conerly Jr. and Ajani Cornelius set to handle the two tackle positions. There’s experience and promise there. Offensive line coach A’lique Terry has been pushing JUCO transfer George Silva to be able to slide back and forth between right and left tackle. Faaope Laloulu should also factor in at tackle.
Jackson-Powers Johnson is expected to start at center. Marcus Harper looks like a player who can man guard or center. And between Harper, Steven Jones, Nishad Strother, and Junior Angilau, the Ducks have four quality options for the two guard spots.
“The mixtures might be a little more pod-like now,” Terry said last week. “You might have guys who play on the left side playing with guys on the left side and guys who play on the right side playing together on the right side.
“You still have to have that good competition. We’re creating that cohesion. That’s going to be big for us. You want to trust the guy next to you as much as possible. Trying to build that while also keeping the competition-level high so nobody ever gets complacent.”
Jones said Monday that this is one of the healthier camps for the Oregon offensive line that he can remember.
“Last season, we had a lot of injuries, which kind of hindered us going into the season,” Jones said. “But this year, we’ve got a lot of guys who can step up just in case somebody does go down. You gotta have dudes to be able to step in when they need to.”
Sounds like his coach.
“I’ve told those guys that there hasn’t been a Joe Moore award winner where only five linemen have played,” Terry said. “At some point in the season, you’re going to call on somebody’s number.”
Stein and Terry should have options when they do.