The No. 2 Oregon Ducks enter Saturday’s game with Washington riding a 17-game winning streak on the road and boasting the league’s top offense. Center Hroniss Grasu took a few minutes to chat with the Pac-12 blog this week about Oregon’s offense, prepping for Washington, the non-distraction of Colt Lyerla and exactly who would get his Heisman vote.
Is it safe to assume that Oregon will be OK without Chip Kelly?
Hroniss Grasu: (Laughs) Yeah, I think so. Coach [Mark] Helfrich and the coaching staff have been a great job since he departed and everything is still the same.
That was sarcasm, just so we’re on the same page.
HG: I got you. Wasn’t sure if you were serious so I wanted to be sure I gave you a good answer.
It’s hard to ignore what you guys are doing offensively. I know you don’t focus on the numbers, but do you at least take a step back to reflect on what you have been able to do so far?
HG: No, we don’t. I think if you take a step back, you’re going the wrong direction. You have to keep going forward and keep looking forward and try to get better every day. We’ve done a good job of that.
Are there any goals in the locker room among you guys? Five straight games of 55 points is impressive.
HG: Nah, we don’t ever make any of those kinds of goals. Our only goal is to play up to our standard and set a new standard daily. If we keep meeting that standard that we set, I think we can be a pretty good football team.
What were some of your personal goals this year?
HG: My personal goal is to be the best leader on this team and do whatever it takes to help this team win. So far I think everybody on the offensive line has done a great job. They’ve all been great leaders with me, giving Marcus [Mariota] the time he needs and opening up the lanes for the running backs.
The relationship between quarterback and center is a delicate one, so to speak. How have you and Marcus gotten in sync the last couple of years?
HG: He’s an easy guy to build a relationship with. He’s the type of guy you want to be around. He always has positive energy and you want that to rub off on you. He’s the most humble person I’ve ever met. His character speaks for itself. Off the field we’ve built a better relationship.
What do you do off the field?
HG: We went golfing and we play some pool and just hang out. We had a barbecue at my house. Stuff like that.
Who’s the better golfer?
HG: I’ve been golfing longer. It’s kind of a funny story. When we first went, I was trying to teach Marcus how to tee off and I shanked it into the driving range. I was teaching him not to do that. Then he steps up and drives it right into the fairway. That’s typical Marcus. He’s good at everything.
If I promise not to tell anyone, is Washington week different?
HG: It’s not any different at all. It might be extra competitive, but we don’t treat it any differently. We know we’re going to get everyone’s best shot. We know we’re the team that is going to be circled on everyone’s schedule. We’ve been through it. We get excited when we see a hostile crowd. The atmosphere is electric. We just have to go in and do our job and execute our game plan.
You guys have won 17 in a row on the road. That’s the longest streak in the country. What do you guys do that enables you to be as successful on the road as you are at home?
HG: We just treat it like any other game. Our practices are much harder than our games. We play the loud music and simulate the noise. We stick to our game plan and listen to the coaches. We always have a good week of preparation and it’s fun and exciting to go on the road. The away games are fun because it’s us vs. the whole stadium. It helps you bond with your teammates because it’s you vs. all.
Oregon isn’t a team that you typically hear about having off-the-field distractions. But this week you had one with the departure of tight end Colt Lyerla. How much of a distraction was that to you guys?
HG: It hasn’t been a distraction at all. We haven’t really discussed it because we know it can’t be a distraction. It’s a bummer that we lost Colt because he’s a great athlete and a good person. He needs to get back on track and we can’t let that distract us.
What’s your favorite part about the new facilities?
HG: My favorite part is that we have elevators. The whole building is amazing. When the pictures came out, I was in awe. Then you see it in person; you just can’t compare it to pictures. My jaw was dropped the whole time. I can’t believe that’s our new home. It’s a blessing to use that building.
If you had a Heisman vote, who would get it?
HG: The entire Oregon Ducks football team.