EUGENE, Oregon – Washington State will be down its starting center against an opponent that sets itself apart with front-seven play.
Senior center Brian Greene, a Rimington Trophy watch list player, was not on the field with the Cougars as they went through warm-ups Saturday ahead of a big matchup with No. 3 Oregon at Autzen Stadium.
The Yakima product had given WSU’s offensive line a major boost since returning to the starting lineup Oct. 2 at Cal. A Week 1 injury had kept him sidelined for two games.
WSU’s O-line allowed just one sack in three straight games, and didn’t permit any two weeks ago against Arizona State’s talented defensive front.
Sophomore Konner Gomness will start in Greene’s place, as he’d done earlier this season.
Junior right guard Cade Beresford will return for WSU after suffering an unspecified lower-body injury midway through the ASU game. He wore a walking boot on the sideline throughout the second half, and often-employed sophomore Ma’ake Fifita fared well in relief.
Fifita got the starting nod versus UO.
WSU interim coach Jake Dickert said earlier this week that he expected free safety Halid Djibril to return to the fold after missing the past seven games with a leg injury that he sustained Sept. 11 against Portland State. But Djibril wasn’t on the field for pregame exercises.
The Cougars’ short-handed trenches will be tested by a staunch UO box that ranks second in the Pac-12 with 123.1 rushing yards allowed per game. The Ducks have registered 18 sacks – fourth in the conference – and their defensive box features a probable first-round NFL draft pick in sophomore edge-rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux and breakout freshman star Noah Sewell. The two have combined for seven sacks.
Three other stout young Ducks in the front seven – Brandon Dorlus, Bradyn Swinson and Treven Ma’ae – have totaled a combined seven sacks.
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