OSU SPRING PREVIEW: The Offensive Line

CORVALLIS – April will be interesting for the Beaver o-line, with a key starter and others out for spring ball due to injury. To spice things up, there are presumably three 2014 holes to fill up front and 10 or so players vying to fill them, a handful of whom lack any game experience. But…

But offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is used to dealing with these situations.

The way things stand at the moment, Cav will be without freshman lineman Fred Lauina (shoulder surgery) and sophomore Josh Mitchell (shoulder surgery), plus starting center Isaac Seumalo (foot surgery).

Senior-to-be Roman Sapolu is a maybe for spring ball after undergoing surgery last season.

Mike Riley likes to avoid aggravating injuries though, so it's hard to say whether or not Sapolu will fully participate in spring ball.

That leaves Sean Harlow (SO), Gavin Andrews (JR), Grant Bays (R-SO), oft-injured Garrett Weinreich (R-SO), Justin Addie (JR) and junior college pick-up Bobby Keenan the task of filling the line ranks.

And it also means the walk ons, such as Nolan Hansen (R-So), Austin Johnson (R-FR), Devan Filipe (JR) and Sam Curtius (FR) will be busy. One, they'll be needed just to fill the 2-deeps. Two, they have a world of opportunities this spring, and for a program that has made some hay under Cavanaugh in producing Pac-12 quality linemen from walk ons.

The Beavs have two returning starters in Seumalo and Harlow. But things could be worse. At the very least, the Beavs do have a few experienced guys that should provide leadership.

Sean Harlow has a tough year of experience under his belt, and Grant Bays spent a lot of practice time as a patch for the Beaver O-line when injuries took a bite in 2013.

Addie was slipping into the rotation last season, and he's got the physical talent to make a push for playing time. Addie did spend some time last fall as a third string center, and considering OSU's top two at center (Seumalo, Mitchell) are currently incapacitated he figures to see a good number of reps.

Seumalo of course is guaranteed a spot on the line once he returns. But will it be at center, or elsewhere? All things being equal, he's your man in the middle but when injuries hit last season, the 6-3 Seumalo moved out to tackle and held his own.

I don't see Harlow being seriously challenged for his starting job, but will he remain at tackle? Spring could shape up to be a transitional period, all the chess pieces could move around a bit early on. Generally, that's for precautionary purposes – get your guys ready to play anywhere. But there could be more to it this spring, we'll see.

Meanwhile, Andrews may not be guaranteed a role anywhere just yet, but his tenacity, experience and size will aid him in pursuit of what will likely be a starting spot at tackle or guard.

Ultimately, the icing on the cake is this - the Beavs retained Cavanaugh after he was offered a job by Oklahoma State.

Coach Cav has long been known as one of the best O-line coaches in the Pac-12 and an asset to the OSU program. He's done more with less for years at Oregon State. That, more than anything else, is what lends optimism this spring in looking ahead to the 2014 Beaver o-line.

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