COMMENTARY: Beavs can get ahead of the trend

CORVALLIS -- So much attention has been given to the Mannion/Vaz discussion, the question of who will step up at split end and a bevy of other key considerations on offense for the 2013 Beavers. But from this chair, there is another pressing issue. And it's one that no one is talking about.

It's also not one I expect to see happen. I've filed more than 100 articles for BF.C since I started attending Beaver practices in the spring of 2012. And my take after watching all those practices and games, including every single practice this past spring, is that the Beavs would benefit by switching up a couple of starters on the offensive line.

Grant Enger, listed as the starting right guard on the pre-spring depth chart, should be the starting right tackle for Oregon State for the 2013 season. Gavin Andrews, the starting right tackle, should move inside one spot to be the starting right guard.

THERE SEEMS A very slim possibility that this will end up being the case. But I have seen the good, (Wisconsin, Arizona), the bad (Arizona State), and the Alamo (still in therapy over that one). And when it comes to the blocking capabilities of the Beavs, some things have become clear.

It was the 10-sack meltdown in the Alamo Bowl that really got me thinking about this – how will the Beavs correct that weakness in 2013? Because there should never be any 10-sack games. And on the 2012 season, the Beavs allowed 33 sacks, placing them a lowly 94th in the nation -- that shouldn't happen either.

Back to the Alamo Bowl for a moment. Alex Okafor racked up 4.5 sacks, a fumble and multiple hurries against Oregon State. He destroyed, with sack No. 3, the last shred of confidence Cody Vaz had in his protection. The fourth one was just rubbing it in. But it was even more than that.

It hammered home the notion that college football has reached a definitive tipping point when it comes to defensive ends – they are coming in lean and agile, relying more on technique and speed rather than strength for that initial penetration against the line when most battles are won and lost. The really big o-tackles are, I believe, on their way to becoming more a thing of the past. Colin Kelly found that out the hard way.

COLLEGE OFFENSIVE TACKLES, I believe, will be forced to change. I believe the next o-line trend you'll see is for the tackles to make the same kinds of alterations we've seen the prototypical college defensive end make. The days of massive 315 pound-plus guys blocking the ends are drawing nigh, for all but the most athletic of that group.

And the Beavs here can get ahead of the curve.

The average Oregon State defensive end is 6-3, 256 pounds. If we consider that the standard for the Pac-12 (probably adding 10 pounds and an inch or two because Riley & Co. intentionally recruit guys with room on their frames), it makes sense to have Enger – a 6-6, 290-pound senior operating on the outside while the 6-5, 327-pound Andrews, a sophomore, shifts that big ol' frame to the interior line.

It would also provide OSU with provide the beef where it's most needed –in the Beaver run game between the tackles.

Enger has the size and athleticism of a true tackle, and he has the playing time under his belt to better make adjustments and prevent momentum-shifting sacks and hurries.

Andrews is young, and in my opinion his hands are not developed to the point where I see him getting a constant paw on some of the speedy defensive ends he's likely to see this season.

THIS IS NOT to say offensive guard isn't a skill position. Every position on the o-line is vital.

But if Andrews were put at right guard, he'd be sandwiched between two extremely talented players in Enger and Isaac Seumalo, as opposed to being isolated on an island, in more one-on-one matchups where his mistakes will be harder to correct.

Put another way, throw the newbie between the veterans, guys who can help him make adjustments when he struggles, and leave Enger out on the edge where his experience, speed and aggressiveness would truly shine.

After seeing these guys time and time again join battle in the trenches in spring ball, fall camp, in-season practices and games, and then spring again, that's what I'd do.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories