Post Spring Analysis: Defensive Line

The defensive line returns three of four starters that accounted for 20.5 sacks and 172 tackles during the 2002 season. NFL bound Eric Manning leaves a big hole to fill, especially with the lingering possibility that one of last year's starting defensive ends may not make the team.

Greg Newhouse has his hands full with fourteen players on the roster. Out of the fourteen, eight to ten players will receive playing time with six to eight receiving significant playing time.

Anchoring the outside of the line is record-breaking defensive end Bill Swancutt. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound right end uses a combination of speed and strength to get around or go through the offensive line. He broke LaDairius Jackson’s sack record in 2002 with 11.5 sacks and is looking to break his own record in 2003.

The Oregon native has a mean streak and had his way with the OSU offensive line for the majority of spring practice. Opponents will now key on blocking the athletic Swancutt, resulting in double teams. It will be interesting to see how Swancutt will react to the increased attention that will be paid to him this year.

Bill Swancutt will be looking to break the Oregon State career sack record in 2003.

Jayson Jean-Baptiste and Brandon Scales will be backing up Swancutt. Jean-Baptiste has game experience and looked good during spring drills. The 6-foot-3, 244-pound New Jersey native does not have power to take on offensive lineman, but has the speed to get around them. Baptiste showcased his skills numerous times by getting around the Beaver lineman with ease. He has good footwork and an explosive first step.

Following Baptiste is 6-foot-5, 213-pound freshman Brandon Scales. Although skinny the James Monroe graduate had an excellent spring game exhibiting his quickness by beating the tackles several times. Scales will most likely not receive any playing time this year, but with hard work in the weight room he should be competing for a position for the 2004 season.

Last but not least at the right end position is freshman Joe Rudulph. Rudulph did not stand out during practice, but absorbed the great teaching by coach Newhouse. More time on the field and in the weight room will increase his chance of playing in 2004.

Dwan Edwards is the one of the most experienced defensive players.

Next to the right-ends are the right tackles, anchored by Dwan Edwards. Edwards is one of the most underrated players on the Beaver football team. This is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because he was often overlooked by opposing teams, allowing him single coverage. A curse because he was not given the respect he deserved.

Edwards is a hard working player who worked on his swim moves, spin moves, etc. during practice.

This year will be entirely different from the previous two when he started next to Eric Manning. Manning demanded double coverage, which allowed Edwards to grab 50 tackles, nine for loss, and 3.5 sacks. The 6-foot-3, 305 pound Montana native could face more opposition this year, but may have single coverage due to the double teaming of Swancutt.

Backing up Edwards are Chris Scott, Derek Hall, and Matthis Gehring. Scott is a big man at 295, but hurt his knee midway through the month and had to sit out, so the jury is still out on him. Scott will be recovered by fall. Hall and Gehring did not stand out during practice, but they are both young and need time to develop and get used to the system.

Two players battled the entire 15 days for the left tackle position. Henry Anderson started at the top of the depth chart, but shared duties with Alvin Smith as the practices progressed. Currently, the depth chart has an “or” between the two names, so the battle will be in full swing come fall.

Henry Anderson and Alvin Smith are neck and neck for the starting left tackle position.

Anderson sat out last season after he suffered a broken arm during spring practice in 2002. The 6-foot-3, 288-pound sophomore has a mouth that runs a mile a minute and sometimes doesn’t know when to shut up. The Oakland native has the skills to have a great career at OSU, but his mouth sometimes gets him in trouble.

At 288, he gives away a lot of size to the offensive lineman but is very strong, and quick. Anderson and Edwards execute the stunt well together and could be a force to recon with come September.

But big Alvin Smith, who transferred from Tulane last year, is giving Anderson a run for his money. Smith played a significant amount of time with the first team and almost exclusively played with the first team the second half of the month.

The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Georgia native has 20 plus pounds on Anderson and has the skills to move the offensive line backwards. He doesn’t have the footwork like Edwards and Anderson, but he has the power that neither posses.

The healthy competition between Anderson and Smith will result in the best player starting with the other player hungry to see playing time. At this point, it doesn’t matter who starts because each will most likely receive an equal amount of playing time much like last year when James Lee played almost as much as Edwards and Manning. This is a huge plus for the Beavers because there will always be fresh defensive tackles in the game.

Following the heated battle between Anderson and Smith is 6-foot-1, 271-pound left tackle Ben Siegert. Siegert is in a similar situation as the aforementioned Hall and Gehring, more time in the system will make him a better player.

Finishing out the line is the academically troubled Noah Happe. Happe did not participate in spring drills due to academic problems, but attended the majority of practices. Rumors swirled about his return for the spring game, but they were just rumors. New rumors have surfaced stating that the speedy end will not qualify for this year’s squad. With any luck it is just a rumor too.

Happe brings speed and experience to the left end, including an intense attitude. Losing Happe would be a big blow, but there are capable backups.

If Happe does not quality, 6-foot-7, 258-pound Dan Rothwell will take his place. Rothwell had an up and down spring with a nagging knee injury. The Oregon native wore a big knee brace during practice, but did not trust his knee at times. Twice, he went down as his knee got hit.

Dan Rothwell could start if Happe does not qualify.

With a somewhat bum knee, Rothwell was not able to play at 100%. He did not explode well off the line and he is not big enough to push through the o-line. With rest and more experience Rothwell will become a decent player. Hopefully his knee will be at 100% come fall.

Red shirt freshman Joe Lemma follows Happe and Rothwell. Out of all of the younger players, Lemma stood out the most with this good work ethic. Lemma is an exciting young player to watch and will become a solid end at Oregon State.’s Defensive Line Rankings

1. Bill Swancutt, Junior (6-4, 260) – experienced, fast end who will see double teams in ’03, good work ethic and is not afraid to get physical

2. Dwan Edwards, Senior (6-3, 305) – game proven tackle, good footwork, decent amount of strength, will have a good season with most of the attention being paid to Swancutt

3. Noah Happe, Senior (6-5, 231) – quick end who may not qualify academically for the 2003 season

4. Alvin Smith, Sophomore (6-2, 310) – strong, big man that can move people around, competing with Henry Anderson for the starting left tackle position

5. Henry Anderson, Sophomore (6-3, 288) – talented, quick end who has a motor mouth, very emotional, competing with Alvin Smith for the starting left tackle position

6. Jayson Jean-Baptiste, Senior (6-3, 244) – very quick off the line, will receive a significant amount of playing time.

7. Dan Rothwell, Senior (6-4, 258) – having trouble trusting his knee, but will become a solid player after he gains his confidence back

8. Brandon Scales, Freshman (6-5, 213) – quick, but small, probably will see some playing time, but needs to put on some weight

9. Chris Scott, Sophomore (6-1, 295) – big man who can move people around, needs to work on footwork, injured his knee halfway through April, will be recovered by fall

10. Joe Lemma, Freshman (6-5, 248) – exciting young player who has great potential, good work ethic, could see limited playing time, will compete for a starting job in ‘04

11. Ben Seigert, Freshman (6-4, 280) – good mass and movement, needs game experience, could see limited playing time

12. Joe Rudulph, Freshman (6-5, 228) – quick, but inexperienced, probably will not receive playing time this year

13. Derek Hall, Sophomore (6-3, 266) – needs to bulk up, probably won’t see any game action

14. Matthis Gehring, Freshman (6-1, 271) – hard worker who faces an uphill battle for playing time

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