Alex Mirabal has heard enough hype.
Oregon’s offensive line coach knows his unit is ranked among the best in the nation as it prepares to go up against an equally-lauded defensive line for Auburn on Aug. 31 in Arlington, Texas.
“I heard their defensive line coach say he wishes people would quit asking him about that matchup and I feel the same way here,” Mirabal said. “I’m sure the players feel the same, they just want to go play. Good players against good players … We have a tremendous amount of respect for what we’ve seen of those guys on film and it will be an honor to be on the field with them. Let’s put the ball down and get after each other and see what each other has got. Test each other out.”
Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton and Shane Lemieux have earned preseason All-American honors while Penei Sewell and Jake Hanson also received votes on the preseason all-Pac-12 team for the No. 11-ranked Ducks. Brady Aiello and Dallas Warmack, who have combined to make 32 collegiate starts, are competing for the final starting spot at right guard.
Auburn, ranked No. 16, counters with Derrick Brown, who is considered one of the top defensive linemen in the nation, along with Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson, who both were second-team picks on the preseason all-Southeastern Conference squad. That trio combined for 28½ tackles for loss last year, including 15 sacks.
Tyrone Truesdell is also in the rotation along with edge rushers T.D. Poultry and Big Kat Bryant.
“I don’t know exactly what the rankings are, but I don’t recall seeing a defensive line as good as this in a long, long time,” UO coach Mario Cristobal said. “Just because of all the things that come with it, aside from the fact they are massive human beings. They are very explosive and technically sound.”
The 318-pound Brown and 291-pound Coe are both 6-foot-5 while Davidson is 6-3 and 278.
“We try to prepare our players for it, but obviously it is hard to replicate their physical play up front,” Mirabal said. “I hope for both sides, you can’t replicate that in practice, it is impossible. That first play we are going to feel something we haven’t felt and that is what we are trying to prepare them for.”
Oregon will have more than 130 combined starts on the offensive line when the game begins.
“If you are Lemieux, Throckmorton, Hanson, Aiello, Dallas Warmack, Penei Sewell, this is why you come to Oregon to play an opponent like that,” Mirabal said.
The Ducks began to move from fall camp into preparing for Auburn during the middle of last week.
“They have a really experienced, talented defensive line group,” Throckmorton said of the Tigers. “They play extremely hard, play to the whistle every single snap. We need to come in with the same mindset.”
The line that walks out of AT&T Stadium victorious will have quickly validated its preseason hype.
“We want to be known as the best offensive line at the end of the year just as sure as they want to be known as the best defensive line at the end of the year, not at the beginning,” Mirabal said. “That is the goal we are working toward, but by no means are we there. We don’t want to be paper champions, that is for sure.”