POST-SPRING BREAKDOWN: Offensive line

CORVALLIS -- Year after year it seems, OSU and offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh seem to lose key performers to graduation -- only to replace them with solid new starters on the line. With the loss of four seniors from last year, the Beavs will look to continue that form, one that has aided an Oregon State rushing attack that's become one of the Pac-10's better ground games in recent years.

Youth will play a key role on the Beavers o-line, as four of the five expected OSU starters are underclassmen.

Senior Gregg Peat and juniors Ryan Pohl and Alex Linnenkohl all return for another year in the trenches, with Pohl being the only one of the three whose job security could be in question.

Cavanaugh has said he expects sophomore Michael Lamb to give Pohl a run for his money when fall rolls around, with Lamb still continuing to recover from a knee injury. With Lamb out all of the spring, Pohl ran with with the first string offensive line, which was rounded out with sophomore Mike Remmers at the right tackle position, and a combination of redshirt freshman Colin Kelly and junior Timi Oshinowo splitting time at the left tackle position.

Oshinowo arguably held a slight edge this spring but injured his knee in the spring game and is projected out until October.

Oshinowo's injury could open the door for freshman Geoff Garner, currently behind Remmers as the second string right tackle. It remains to be seen whether or not he will stay there heading into fall camp.

Two other players figure to factor into the left tackle equation in the fall, with junior Wilder McAndrews coming off of wrist surgery before spring began and true freshman Michael Phillip, a 6 foot 3, 320 pound four star recruit who is expected to either start this fall or redshirt.

You get the sense Beaver coaches would like Kelly to make a statement once fall camp starts. The 6 foot 4, 266 pound hoss showed a solid work ethic this spring but he's still learning.

Versatility on the offensive line has consistently been there for Oregon State in years past, the case seems to be the same in '09. There are multiple players who could slide into any number of positions.

Kelly could be one of those first option players, with the strength to play bookend on the line, and the versatility to slide into the guard position.

A duo of sophomores fills out the depth in the offensive line, with Burke Ellis backing up Peat at the right guard position, and Grant Johnson backing up Linnenkohl at center. With the incumbents holding a firm grasp on their starting positions this spring, it would appear a tall order for the youth to make a big enough impression to steal time from the starters.

While Cavanaugh this spring made it rough on the offensive line on a day-to-day basis, that has worked wonders in the past and seemed to have a positive effect on this year's youthful o-line Beavers.

At the same time, with Jacquizz Rodgers out this spring, the OSU ground game was not overly productive in the scrimmages. Pass protection also broke down at times.

Asked this spring about Coach Cav's approach and expectations of the offensive line, Linnenkohl turned in an illustrative soundbite.

"I think that is really works wonders on everybody. Some guys sometimes can't handle it, but he keeps at it; he is not going to let up. Personally, I really think that you can feel the love that Coach Cav conveys through the toughness. If you see him outside of the facilities, he is the nicest guy. He has a style he coaches, but he speaks from the heart," said Linnenkohl.


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