Star prospect Hroniss Grasu expected to miss couple of games

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Oregon finds itself in an enviable spot, entering a bye week as the No. 2-ranked team by the College Football Playoff selection committee.

That doesn't mean all is well in Eugene, though.

Offensive line woes have been one of the few things hampering the Ducks this season, and those issues will apparently stretch out even longer, as starting guard Hamani Stevens said star center Hroniss Grasu is expected to miss the next couple games after suffering an injury against Utah last week.

"It was strange to see because I've never seen Hroniss hurt," starting guard Stevens told The Oregonian. "We've never seen it before. It looks like he'll miss a couple of games. It's obviously a big loss. We'll have to step up as a team."

The notoriously tight-lipped coaching staff refused to discuss injury particulars with reporters but did label Grasu as "day-to-day."

The 6-foot-3, 300-pound redshirt senior has started every game of his career and was considered a leading All-American and Rimington Award (given annually to the nation's top center) candidate based on his play. Along with Auburn's Reese Dismukes, Grasu was considered one of the top center prospects in the mix for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Grasu left the Utah game late in the fourth quarter when he had to be helped off the field with a leg injury and was replaced by backup Doug Brenner, who would be in line to start against Colorado after the team's bye week. One would expect the team to be cautious with only the bottom two teams in the conference (Colorado and Oregon State) left on the schedule. Grasu would have nearly a month of rest and rehab before he would be needed to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game in early December.

The loss of Grasu cannot be understated when it comes to the impact on Heisman Trophy favorite and star quarterback Marcus Mariota. The two have been on the same page throughout their careers and Grasu has limited the pressure Mariota faced up the middle. Oregon's opponents prior to the conference title game likely won't be much of an issue for the team, but they could hamper Mariota's numbers a bit without his best offensive lineman up front.

If there is any silver lining, it's that the effect of Grasu's injury could be mitigated by the return of offensive tackle Andre Yruretagoyena, who has missed eight games since suffering a leg injury against Michigan State on Sept. 6.

Still, there appears to be more reshuffling in store for the Ducks' offensive line the next few weeks, and that's a familiar task for the team.

You can follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter at @BryanDFischer.

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