Take a Knee: Andre Yruretagoyena on his progression and Oregon’s offensive line

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich congratulates Oregon sophomore offensive lineman Andre Yruretagoyena (72) as the offense exits the field during the fourth quarter. The No. 3 Oregon Ducks play the No. 12 UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Oct. 26, 2013. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich congratulates Oregon sophomore offensive lineman Andre Yruretagoyena (72) as the offense exits the field during the fourth quarter. The No. 3 Oregon Ducks play the No. 12 UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Ore. on Oct. 26, 2013. (Michael Arellano/Emerald)

Posted by Victor Flores on Monday, Apr. 14 at 1:00 pm.

Oregon offensive lineman Andre Yruretagoyena is going into his redshirt junior season. In a interview with the Emerald after Monday’s spring football practice, he said that he made large strides in the offseason. Yruretagoyena discussed his offseason progression, Oregon left tackle Tyler Johnstone and how the offensive line looks going into the 2014 season.

You’ve been practicing all of the line positions?

“I’ve done everything, but center. I tried learning how to snap, but it didn’t go very well. I’ve been playing guard and tackle since high school, so I go wherever I’m needed.”

How’s that been? Do you like playing guard?

“I love playing them both. I like tackle more, but I’m not Jake (Fisher’s) and Tyler (Johnstone’s) size, so I’ve always thought I’m more of a guard. But I play wherever I’m put.”

What would you say your biggest improvement in the offseason has been?

“I would say my confidence. I’ve gotten way stronger from the last few years. Everything’s finally coming together, I know the whole playbook finally and with that comes confidence. I know it’s OK if I mess up now. That’s what practice is for.”

Have you gained weight?

“Yeah, I’m like 290-295 (pounds). Still trying to get over that, but it’s really healthy. I beat all my maxes this offseason, in both speed and strength, so it’s not bad weight.”

What were you before?

“When I got here, I was like 295, but I was fat. So, I dropped like 40 pounds and I’ve just been gradually putting everything back on. I’ve been in between 280 and 290 the last couple of years, but finally I’ve gotten past that wall towards 300. I’m just going to keep working towards that.”

How confident are you about getting good playing time this upcoming season?

“If I keep playing how I’m playing, I think I’ll be out there a lot more.”

What did you say to Johnstone or what was your gauge of his psyche in the recent aftermath of his injury during the Alamo Bowl?

“He was obviously upset right when that happened, just like any player would be. But Tyler’s always one of the most confident people I know and he wouldn’t let something like this set him back. He was pissed off, obviously, when it happened, but he was pretty much over it afterwards. He knew that he had to get back. He was cracking jokes after it on the sideline on his crutches. I kind of threw him my two cents. I had surgery on my shoulder in high school and it’s a long road, especially with an ACL and how important knees are. But I just told him, ‘You’ve gotta do the rehab and try to get back. Don’t rush it and you’ll be fine.’”

I saw he was messing around with the Texas fans during the Alamo Bowl. Did you notice that?

“(laughs) That’s Tyler. When he gets mad, he does funny stuff. That’s exactly how he is.”

How good do you think the offensive is going to be this season?

“I think it’s going to be a really big year for us. Obviously, we return everybody on the line and hopefully I can get in the rotation. I don’t care if I start, I just want to play. Everyone’s fine, just getting more mature.”

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