OSU 2013 Season in Review: Offensive Line

CORVALLIS - Watching Oregon State's offensive line this season was an emotional rollercoaster – elation, disappointment, satisfaction and chagrin, you had your pick week to week. So how could such a seasoned O-line excel one moment, and lay an egg the next? What went wrong, and why?

I'm no swami, but when I look back at the 2013 season and analyze the OSU front five, here's the question that pops into my head…

Were the players responsible for pressing the "go" button on that rollercoaster, or were they a byproduct of flawed strategy?

Mike Riley and Danny Langsdorf called for a mere 355 running plays in 2013, compared to 625 pass attempts. OSU only ran the ball 36 percent of the time.

By virtue of Riley and Langsdorf putting so much stock in the arm of quarterback Sean Mannion and a battery of wideouts and tight ends, they made the offense one-dimensional and they made the o-line's job more difficult. Seniors Grant Enger, Josh Andrews and Michael Philipp, center Isaac Seumalo and freshman Sean Harlow had a tougher time of it because there was no mystery to it.

Pass blocking is inherently less aggressive than blocking for the run. With the run game, a coach tells the big kahunas up front to take to the trenches and push the other team around, make them feel small and force them to respect the girth, strength and ferocity of the front five. Run blocking is what offensive linemen love to do, because it puts them in control of who gets moved where.

Pass blocking, however, essentially puts the opponent in the driver's seat – it gives way to challengers rushing downhill at a group of linemen that are asked to play on their toes and in lieu of being aggressive and packing a wallop, sit back and be patient, read the D-line, and take a few punches instead.

Considering the ratio of run to pass in '13, I feel OSU's offensive line was not put in the optimal position to succeed until the very end of the season.

By the time Stanford, ASU and ‘SC showed up, The Beaver o-linemen were playing too passively, a tactic that played right into the hands of their opponents. Compare the look and feel of those games to that of the Civil War, where OSU ran the ball on 45 percent of their plays from scrimmage, and you'll get the gist of what I'm saying.

For the linemen, it must have felt like going into a Scantron test with a piece of chalk. At the same time…

The offensive line hardly inspired great confidence over much of the season in their run blocking. It's not as if they gave Riley a reason to change the lopsided playcalling that was slanted towards the pass.

I have to assign a grade based on what I saw, and what I saw wasn't pretty. D+

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