Never underestimate a guy who can bench press you 10 times.
People say the Oregon offensive line is a question mark this year, that Oregon can’t compete with the elite defensive lines or teams that have extra time to prepare for the spread, that the Cowboy Classic will be just like Boise in ’09 because the Ducks lack experience in the offensive line. People say a lot of things. People are dumb.
Darrion Weems started seven games for Steve Greatwood last year, starting at left tackle against Tennessee, Portland State, Stanford, Washington and Auburn. He was on the field for a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns. He started at left tackle against USC as a sophomore Left tackle is the anchor of the offensive line. Steve Greatwood and Darron Thomas trust him, and you should too.
Weems is a bright, articulate guy, a political science major off the field. He bench presses 365 pounds and is 6-5, 300, agile enough to spring LaMichael James at the second level. Asked about his blocking assignments in the Oregon offense, Weems told TV station KVAL, “It helps having LaMichael back there, making guys miss.” Weems is being modest, because a lot of those guys miss because he has them flat on the ground. Weems and his linemates spung James for 1731 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, in an Oregon offense that produced 6,899 yards and 345 first downs. James and Kenjon Barner can make guys miss, but the senior tackle from Taft High in Winnetka, California does his part to see they don’t have to.
Here’s another look at Darrion, this time on one of the most memorable plays of the 2010 season, LaMichael James signature 72-yd, reverse-field dash for a touchdown versus Tennessee. Weems (#74, lined up at left tackle at the top of the screen) throws two key blocks on this play. First he collapses the weak side defensive end back into the pile at the start, and as James begins to change direction, Weems chips the defender who has the best shot at him in the backfield (a linebacker, #15). Weems alertly sees his running back is coming back toward him and picks up this key extra block, showing great alertness and hustle. LMJ has room to turn on the jets, and he picks up several downfield blocks racing up the left sideline. This is a brilliant run by a great back, but it’s also a tremendous team effort, with Lavasier Tuinei, Jeff Maehl and even Darron Thomas contributing on the picket line. But it all starts with Darrion Weems doing his job, twice. First he destroys the Tennessee contain on the weakside, then cuts off the pursuit. It’s smart, determined work by an offensive lineman, and illustrates beautifully why Darrion will be steady and dependable as Oregon’s left tackle.