BF.C Fall Camp Preview: The O-line

CORVALLIS - With three returning seniors and an acclaimed sophomore in the middle of the pack, Oregon State looks to be sitting pretty up front for 2013 with one of the Pac-12's most experienced blocking fronts. Questions remain however, and BF.C takes a long look at what to expect in the fall. Who sits, who starts? Have last year's crop of redshirts made enough progress? We cover that and more...

This will be the last Oregon State fall camp for Grant Enger, Michael Philipp and Josh Andrews.

I thoroughly expect them to tear it up in the fall.

Philipp has high expectations surrounding his senior season, and he should. He is quite agile despite being 329 pounds spread over his 6-4 frame -- he is the biggest man on the team.

And he had fantastic form in securing his blocks last season and this spring, correcting swiftly if and when he is caught out of step.

Philipp went through the lion's share of spring ball with the same consistent level of efficiency I noticed from him upon reviewing footage of the Alamo Bowl. He is a hoss, no qualms about it.

The primary question regarding Philipp is this – can he stay healthy and active for the duration of the season? The injury bug has had a nasty habit recently of biting the Beav O-line and Philipp has had his share of dings over his OSU career.

Enger is an exhaustively good athlete -- he could have probably fit just as well on the D-line as he could the offensive side of the ball.

Barring injury, the 6-6, 290 guard should be one of the more dominant forces for the OSU offense in 2013 and with the added responsibilities of team captain tagged to his jersey, you can anticipate his production to continue at a steady, locomotive like pace throughout the fall months.

I've argued that Enger may be better suited at tackle for the Beavs – but I will also state that no matter where Enger ends up, he will create a strong push and be a coveted tool of Mike Cavanaugh's.

Andrews' potential impact is slightly more ambiguous when compared to the expected production of the aforementioned linemen. Andrews had an average 2012 season from this chair, and his upside far outweighs his margin for error in 2013.

He will be lining between Philipp and a burgeoning force at center in Isaac Seumalo, so help will be there if he fumbles an assignment.

And it doesn't hurt that he has nearly two years spent as the No.1 right guard. He has proven his worth time and again, and Cavanaugh frequently drops his name when mentioning guys who are counted on to make big plays offensively.

Outside the realm of starting seniors, you have a sophomore who made a monster splash last fall, which ultimately earned him the job of starting center after just four weeks of training camp. Isaac Seumalo was a true score for Riley and Co.

He offers good size and impressive technique for such a young player and he is quick to correct the mistakes that earn him a good yapping from the ever-endearing Cavanaugh.

Seumalo was limited for a significant portion of spring ball due to an aggravated elbow, but all signs point to the soon-to-be second year starter entering fall camp healthy and ready to protect the QB – whoever that ends up being.

The Big Question:
Gavin Andrews heads into fall the top candidate for Colin Kelly's vacated tackle job.

He is big, like Philipp, and therefore suited for the position according to want Riley and Co. look for in a blocking end. The sophomore lacks experience however, and from this seat his skill set is not quite developed to the point where he could be considered a formidable weapon against above average defensive ends in the Pac-12.

That is not to say that some individualized attention to his flaws and some hard work in the fall won't fix some of the, at times, sloppy hand movement and missed assignments. Remember, Andrews is arguably the best option the Beavs have at that slot, assuming Enger does stay at guard.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, right? Well Andrews comes into fall camp as that link compared to the current list of starters heading into fall.

Will the tenacity the coaches see in him ultimately rear its head this August? Or will Sean Harlow or Nolan Hansen get a stab at the gig?

On Reserve:
Harlow is not entirely out of the question, albeit he is less experienced than even Andrews and lacks the big frame.

The 6-4, 275 freshman is a wildcard of sorts in the O-line platoon. He could lean more toward either guard or tackle at this stage, depending on perceived need down the road.

But based on the data in hand as of this moment, other secondary players such as Josh Mitchell (all-purpose/center) and Justin Addie (guard) will likely get the nod for PT over Harlow if and when the going gets tough at the tackle spot opposite Philipp.

Harlow is already a step above some of his counterparts on the line and Cavanaugh may want to develop his talent over the fall and regular season in order to better prepare him to step into one of the three spots that will be empty at the end of the 2013 campaign. Nolan Hansen is one of four redshirt freshmen who has spent a whole year under the tutelage of Cavanaugh, and one of only two redshirt O-linemen who didn't have injuries impede their growth during that year.

Hansen is a tall, athletic option who will push for time as a backup, along with Grant Bays.

Chase Eldredge was injured for most of the 2012 season, and was gently reintroduced to Cav's group at the onset of spring ball. He has a lot of work to do in order to see his role increase, as does Garrett Weinreich, whose injured knee forced him to make his home on the sidelines during spring ball.

Bays saw reps with the 2's in the spring. He performed well and is cut from the same cloth as Hansen at the moment – give them a year, maybe two, and they could make a serious push for playing time.

I like Bays as a guard – at 6-1, 300 he is short enough to gain leverage against taller D-line aggressors and heavy enough to earn momentum and keep a guy moving backward.

David Keller, who was not in the immediate running for playing time prior to sporting a large black boot during week one, is questionable looking ahead to August. Will he be healthy and allow for some breathing room in the offensive line depth? Or will he continue to recuperate, leaving one more void, however small, that will need to be considered.

  • Josh Mitchell (6-2, 286) is looking like the guy who will fulfill the ‘handyman' role for the offensive line in 2013. Similar to Derek Nielsen (6-4, 286, all-purpose OL in 2012) in both physical composition and range of talent across the board, Mitchell filled in for a limited Isaac Seumalo in the early swing of spring ball and put forth an impressive effort. Mitchell is just a sophomore – can he step it up this fall and prove that he is the best all-around substitute for the Beaver O-line?

  • Tyler Ropp entered spring as a walk on. He has yet to really see action worthy of note. Ropp is 6-4, 286 out of Corvallis and will if nothing else at least add to the depth available.

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