There's a reason why NFL teams pay left tackles tons of money to protect a quarterback's blind side, just as there's a reason why that same position is one of the most valuable to college football teams.
Unfortunately for the Oregon offense, the team will be without its starting left tackle for the 2014 season as potential All-American Tyler Johnstone told CSNNW.com that he re-tore the ACL in his right knee.
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Johnstone was one of the Ducks' top NFL draft prospects behind quarterback Marcus Mariota and had started 26 straight games for Oregon at left tackle. He injured his ACL during the Alamo Bowl last year and had to be taken out of the contest. He was expected to return to the starting lineup for the team's opener after rehabbing the injury.
According to the report, Johnstone heard a popping noise in his knee last week during practice and subsequent testing revealed the torn ACL that would cost him the 2014 season.
Redshirt junior Andre Yruretagoyena is expected to take the place of Johnstone at left tackle.
The blow is no doubt a big one for the Ducks, who entered the season with aspirations of reaching the College Football Playoff and winning the Pac-12 with a good chunk of their two-deep from 2013 returning. One of the key reasons they faltered down the stretch last year was because Mariota injured his knee. The loss of Johnstone will put an even greater emphasis on keeping the potential first overall pick in next year's draft healthy.
Mariota has said in the past that his family has picked up a significant supplemental insurance policy for the upcoming season but at least one report says the school is not picking up the tab for his insurance premiums.
Considering how big of a loss Johnstone is when it comes to protecting Mariota's blind side, perhaps the school should reconsider its stance on Mariota's insurance.