FALL CAMP STORYLINES: Offensive tackle

WILL HERALDED FROSH Michael Philipp start? What about Wilder McAndrews and his injury? What does Mike Remmers need to do this season after an impressive freshman campaign? How about the very athletic Colin Kelly? And what of the depth at o-tackle? With fall camp fast approaching, BF.C delves into the offensive tackle position with the second in our series of comprehensive positional overviews..


DEPTH CHART: RT: So. Mike Remmers, Jr. Wilder McAndrews, So. Burke Ellis | LT:  Fr. Michael Philipp, RFr. Colin Kelly, So. Grant Johnson

PLAYERS LOST:  OT Andy Levitre (All-Pac-10 first team, All-American, 35 straight starts), OT Tavita Thompson (six starts)

INJURIESWilder McAndrews missed much needed practice time in the spring and continues to battle torn ligaments in his wrist and thumb stemming from last year. He's had two surgeries but it continues to be slow to heal. Timi Oshinowo injured his knee in the spring game, had surgery in the summer and is out until at least October.

OVERVIEW: Even when Timi Oshinowo, set to graduate in the winter term of 2010 with a degree in mechanical engineering, was healthy and battling it out at left tackle with Colin Kelly during spring ball, the question that kept popping up was should incoming freshman Michael Philipp be redshirted or should he start?

Coach Mike Riley has said they would make a mid-fall camp decision about Philipp, but the unfortunate injury to Oshinowo in the spring game has some thinking, including this writer, it is all but a foregone conclusion Philipp will start on the offensive line as a true frosh this year.

If he does, he will be the first true freshman to start on the offensive line since LG/C Keith DiDomenico buckled up the chinstrap in 1997 - Mike Riley's first year in Corvallis.

Why Philipp over Kelly, with Kelly having been in the system for two years? Because Philipp is that good - potential NFL good. Cavanaugh has repeatedly said that he will start or redshirt - no in between.

Philipp was one of the most coveted offensive linemen recruits on the West Coast last year.  And with excellent balance, nimble feet and explosive quickness, Philipp could immediately help make up for the loss of Andy Levitre, now in the NFL.

One positive to settling the question early would be that the starting tackle positions would be set with Mike Remmers at right tackle and Philipp at left -- the payoff would be the first team offensive line can start developing chemistry with each other from day one.

Remmers, who started the first seven games of '08, was named the most improved player last year as voted on by his teammates.  With that experience in his pocket, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is now looking for Remmers to take it to another level.

He wants the 6-foot-4, 286-pound sophomore to become more aggressive and start to become a dominate tackle, like Levitre.

Several months ago the coaches said Remmers was the likely choice to protect the blindside of the quarterback - the right side for southpaw Sean Canfield and the left side for righty Lyle Moevao. But if Philipp plays, might Remmers and Philipp might switch sides? One of many questions within questions to be answered in fall camp.

While charting Philipp's development will be one of the most watched and discussed topics in the fall, keeping an eye on the backups will provide compelling dinner conversation as well.

Junior Wilder McAndrews, who was recently awarded a scholarship, was in the running for a starting spot, but missed the spring with the wrist and thumb injury. Kelly received plenty of reps in April and, at the least, has put himself into the running to back up both tackle positions until McAndrews gets up to speed.

Cavanaugh loves Kelly's athleticism, but hasn't developed to the point he's a no-brainer lock to start.  McAndrews has all the tools to become a dominate tackle, but needs two things -- more repetitions and a return to full health.

Walk-on Grant Johnson has impressed the coaches and is versatile enough to play all three positions on the line.  He played some tackle and guard during spring, but will probably end up as the backup center. 

Another noted walk-on, sophomore Burke Ellis needs to get stronger before making an impact on the depth chart.

True freshman Geoff Garner came back from his two year LDS mission to Panama City and was in decent shape for being out of the game an extended period of time.  He has a nice build at a still-lean 305 pounds, but needs time to learn better technique before earning snaps in game.

AN OPTIMIST WOULD SAY:  Walk-on, scholarship player, four star recruit - it doesn't matter. Cavanaugh is a master a putting together the best performing offensive line that is possible.

A PESSIMIST WOULD SAY: The injury bug has once again hit the offensive line and the unit is one injury away from imploding.  Also, with a true freshman starting, the chemistry will be off, the offensive line will be exploited early and often and no matter how good Philipp is, he is still a true frosh and will get schooled on plenty of occasions on Saturdays this fall.

STAR PLAYERMike Remmers.  Now that he is a year older and wiser, he is being asked to seek and destroy his opponents or as Cavanaugh put told The Portland Tribune, "I want to see him latch onto guys and bury them."

UNIT STRENGTHPotential. Remmers was money against USC and a rotation of All-Americans last year and if he can find a similar level of consistency this year, things could be very good for the Beavs on the edge. Philipp's ceiling, if you've been living in a cave since February, is sky high while McAndrews has all Pac-10 starting stuff and Kelly's athleticism is striking.

UNIT WEAKNESS:  Experience.  Remmers is the only player with starting experience.  All of the other tackles have very limited - if any -  experience.

INCOMING RECRUITSMichael Philipp.  One of the top offensive lineman recruits on the left coast - a dominate run blocker - a good bet  to start at left tackle.  Grant Enger.  Fluid, mobile offensive lineman with a nasty streak who pulls well and has quick feet - expected to redshirt.  John Braun.  An athletic, aggressive lineman with above average speed - expected to redshirt. 

NOTABLE NOTE:  The offensive line gave up 21 sacks last year or 1.62 per game or a sack every 21.3 pass attempts.

STATS:   The offense averaged 30.5 points and 407.8 yards of offense per game, 158.8 yards rushing and 249.0 yards passing.


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