The good, the bad, the question: DT

THE INTERIOR OF the line was critical to Oregon State's success on defense last year, when they limited seven teams to under 300 total yards on offense. Opponents, however, will not be caught off guard this year by Stephen Paea and will be scheming to stop him. So what does the depth look like headed into spring ball and will Mark banker again be rotating liberally up front?


One of the fastest rising defensive tackles in the Pac-10 is back in Stephen Paea. He was nothing short of stellar in his first year as a starter and should only get better. Few players of his size have the quickness or ability to run people down from behind.

Mitchel Hunt also returns following a solid season as a backup who saw considerable turns in rotation.

There is plenty of experience behind Paea in sophomore and wrestler turned defensive tackle Brennan Olander, plus seniors Sioeli Nau and Latu Moala.

Meanwhile, youngsters Castro Masaniai and Jesse Fifita eagerly wait for their shot to earn playing time.


While there are plenty of players on the roster with experience but at this point, there is arguably a significant drop off in talent from the starters to the backups. Working on closing the gap is important, particularly given defensive coordinator Mark Banker's preference to liberally rotate across the board up front.


Who will break away from the pack and separate themselves as viable backup depth?


Stephen Paea. Now that the league knows about him, and will scheme accordingly, how he adjusts to the additional attention is a big key to the Beaver defense's success or failure.

It is also dependant upon the other d-tackle starter, headed into spring it's Olander, to make the most of his opportunities with doubles expected to be applied towards Paea.


Paea and Hunt have the starting spots headed into spring drills but competition for Olander's spot is expected to be fierce. Hunt, Nau and Moala should all get plenty of snaps to make a case for playing time.

Hunt has been slowed by injuries his entire career while Nau and Moala are two junior college transfers in their final year of eligibility. It is time to put up or shut up.

There is some excitement surrounding Masaniai and Fifita, two young, aggressive Polynesian tackles with natural strength and the push to succeed. It won't be surprising if Masaniai and/or Fifita make a jump up the depth chart by spring's end.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories