The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett and The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress continue a 10-part series comparing Oregon and Kansas State ahead of the Jan. 3 Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, Ch. 32. Go to Kansas.com/wildcats for past matchups.
Starters: Tyler Johnstone, fr., LT, 6-6, 292 (Chandler, Ariz.); Kyle Long, sr., LG, 6-7, 311 (Charlottesville, Va.); Hroniss Grasu, so., C, 6-3, 294 (Encino, Calif.); Ryan Clanton, sr., RG, 6-5, 305 (Bakersfield, Calif.); Jake Fisher, so., RT, 6-5, 294 (Traverse City, Mich.).
Stats: Oregon’s agile offensive line deserves much of the credit for the Ducks leading the Pac-12 and ranking third in the nation in rushing offense (323.3 yards per game). Oregon ranked 37th in the country in fewest sacks allowed (37). Grasu was named first-team All-Pac-12.
The buzz: The Ducks haven’t wowed opponents with their size upfront or NFL scouts with their overall talent level along the offensive line through the years. But what the Ducks lack in dominant talent they make for with depth, intelligence and a scheme that fits the personnel. Consequently, Oregon does a great job upfront of identifying weaknesses and executing blocking schemes to attack those deficiencies to create running lanes for Oregon’s running backs.
Starters: Adam Davis, sr., DE, 6-0, 259 (Folkston, Ga.); Vai Lutui, Sr., DT, 6-2, 289 (Salt Lake City); John Sua, sr., DT, 6-0, 290 (Santa Maria, Calif.), Meshak Williams, Sr., DE, 6-3, 245 (Sylvester, Ga.).
Stats: Williams and Davis combined for 15 sacks and knocked down a handful of passes at the line of scrimmage. The defensive tackles solid play up front has helped K-State stop the run all season.
The buzz: Other than the Baylor loss, when the Bears ripped K-State’s defensive line for more than 300 rushing yards, the Wildcats’ veteran defensive line has been effective. Davis and Williams are two of the Big 12’s best pass rushers, and Lutui has been solid since entering the starting lineup.
The Oregonian’s Aaron Fentress says
K-State gets slight edge. The Wildcats have three defensive linemen who were All-Big-12. They might not be enough to stop Oregon but they at least could give the Ducks some problems.
The Eagle’s Kellis Robinett says
Edge to K-State. Every member of its defensive line is a senior, and they know how to get to the quarterback. Williams may be one of the most underrated defenders out there. They should continue to have success against Oregon.