Fall Camp: Offensive Line

One of the largest concerns for the Beavers heading into fall camp is the offensive line.

The offensive line is always an integral part of whether the offense moves the sticks or wallows in third and long territory. The boys up front set the tone of the game and determine if the offense is run heavy, pass heavy, or balanced.

The Beavers have not had a dependable offensive line since the wrecking crew in 2000. Injuries devastated the lines in 2001 and 2002 while the 2003 version struggled against the more talented teams in the Pac-10.

M. Brock
Center Matt Brock is a preseason Rimington Award candidate.

This year the Beavers feature two all-conference players in center Matt Brock and right tackle Doug Nienhuis, but the rest of the offensive line is up for grabs. Spring ball was disappointing for offensive linemen. Junior college transfer Chris Miller did not integrate into the unit as well as hoped while the unit as a whole struggled to find an identity.

At the conclusion of spring camp most of the questions at the beginning of April were left unanswered. While the outcome was not what the coaches expected, the disarray served as a wake up call for the players.

The majority of the players reevaluated their development as individuals and as vital parts of the offensive unit and hit the books, weight room, and training with renewed interest. These committed players stayed in Corvallis during the summer and worked extremely hard on their technique.

The results of their extra work during the off-season will be known when fall camp begins in August. Right now Brock has the center position locked down while Nienhuis has the right tackle position solidified. If Brock gets hurt, Brent Bridges is a solid backup who has spent four years in the system. Backing up Nienhuis is sophomore Josh Linehan who impressed coaches during April.

Sophomore Adam Koets and Miller are vying for the starting position at left tackle with each having an equal shot at playing time. Koets outplayed Miller during the spring and it’s his position to lose.

The left guard position is almost locked up as the powerful junior Jason Fyda sits atop the depth chart with redshirt freshman Kyle DeVan behind him. Redshirt freshman Roy Schuening battled his way to the top of the depth chart at right guard, but another redshirt freshman Whitfield Usher will also push for playing time.

D. Nienhuis
Doug Nienhuis is one of the better right tackles in the Pac-10.

The battle for the starting spots will be one of the focal spots of the coaching staff during fall ball. It is important that the line jell. Three of the five starting spots are open for the taking to those that show the skill and desire to play.

One key to the offensive line’s success is to gain confidence against a good Beaver defensive line during scrimmages. If the Beavers can move the ball against their teammates on the defensive side of the ball consistently, they can move the ball against any of their 2004 opponents.

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