SPRING PREVIEW: Defensive line

DESPITE THE RETURNING STARTERS coming in on the defensive line this spring, there remains plenty of intrigue up front -- the coaches moved several players during the winter months, there are depth questions and they're coming off a year in which sacks were few and far between. Here's how it all breaks down..

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One of top defensive tackles in the nation returns in Stephen Paea and his counterpart Brennan Olander is one of the most overlooked players on the team - if not the conference.

The duo is the best defensive tackle pairing in Corvallis since Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards suited up together in 2001 and 2002.

Gabe Miller and Matt LaGrone have a year of experience under their belts - the same goes for Taylor Henry.

All three should be more effective this year.

Kevin Frahm moving to defensive tackle is a positive move which should result in a healthier rotation at defensive end and tackle.


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Paea is the only defensive lineman to land on an all-conference team and the lack of depth at defensive tackle, and defensive end, is downright scary.

The often injured Hunt is possibly out for the year due to his recurring injuries while walk on Evan Hull and Castro Masanai have each  received little playing time.

Walk on Ben Motter is unproven after recently being moved from the offensive line to the defensive line.  The same goes for former offensive lineman John Braun.

The defensive ends were mostly ineffective last season combining for just six sacks and defensive line coach Joe Seaumalo is concerned they are not putting on the right weight.

Redshirt freshman Mana Rosa would have pushed for playing time, but unfortunately will miss spring practice recovering from shoulder surgery.


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 Will the Beavers find a playmaker at defensive end?

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  • DT Mitchell Hunt (knee) - will not participate in spring camp; may be out for the year
     
  • DT Brennan Olander (knee) - healthy and ready for spring drills
     
  • DE Mana Rosa (shoulder) - had surgery in Feb., will miss spring practice

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Gabe Miller and Matt LaGrone. The team desperately needs one, if not both, to take a huge leap and become a force to reckon with on the outside.

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One of the top priorities for the entire team is developing depth on the defensive line - and finding a consistent pass rush from at least one defensive end. Defensive line coach Joe Seaumalo wants to light a fire underneath his players and he certainly has plenty of new faces to work with.

The defensive tackle starters are set with Paea and Olander. The duo is one of the top pairings in the conference, but the coaches are desperate to find some quality backups. 

Kevin Frahm, Ben Motter and Nathan Hannah all changed positions and will be looking to make their name known at d-tackle. Basically the depth chart is wide open entering the spring at defensive tackle.

Miller and LaGrone have the end positions locked down.  Miller reportedly has been working very hard in the offseason as he recently ran the fastest 10-yard dash on the entire team - twice. His experice last year combined with his hard work this year could result in a breakout season for the Oregonian.

Competing for the backup positions will be Taylor Henry, Andrew Seumalo and John Braun - all who have limited, if any, experience.

Coach Seumalo recently said in an interview that he was concerned his defensive ends where adding the wrong type of weight, so keep your eyes on that.

Defensive coordinator Mark Banker said in 2008, "you are only as good on the back end as your pass rush is." A sobering statement considering the current circumstances.


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  • Sr. Gabe Miller (6-3, 249) - recently ran the fastest 10-yard dash on the entire team...12 career starts, five straight...took over starting duties at Cal on 11/7...had a good offseason in the weight room according to strength coach Bryan Miller...made a co-team high three sacks last year...tallied 23 tackles, including five for loss, the fourth most out of the returning players...added 10 pounds since the end of the '09 season
     
  • So. Andrew Seumalo (6-3, 262) - the son of defensive line coach Joe Seumalo...walked on in 2008 and redshirted...did not record a statistic last year...coaches like his speed and work ethic
     
  • RFr. Devon Kell (6-3, 228) - redshirted last year...walked on in 2009...played high school football in Hawaii at Hilo High...added 15 pounds in the off season
     
  • RFr. Mana Rosa (6-3, 250) - will miss spring ball after having shoulder surgery...explosive first step...would have competed for a starting spot if healthy...needed desperately to help fill out the two deeps...redshirted in 2009

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  • Sr. Stephen Paea (6-1, 311) - 2009 Morris Trophy winner...25 starts, 14 straight...a first team all-conference selection in '09...forced four fumbles in 09, tying a school record...led the team with 8.5 tackles for loss, also chipped in 43 tackles, the most out of the defensive linemen...a co-team captain last year and one of the leaders on defense...strongest player on the team...low center of gravity and powerful legs, but lightning quick as well...most likely a first round NFL draft pick...pumped out 44 reps on bench press at 225 pounds
     
  • So. Castro Masaniai (6-2, 311) - the only underclassmen defensive tackle with a scholarship...played in nine games last year making four tackles, including one for loss...team needs him to elevate his game in 2010...specializes in clogging up the middle
     
  • Jr. Ben Motter (6-5, 288) - had a good offseason improving his strength and mobility...moved from the offensive line to the defensive line in 2010...walked on in 2007 from Philomath High

  • Sr. Nathan Hannah (6-3, 277) - longtime walk on who faces an uphill battle for playing time...moved from offensive to defensive line in spring of 2010

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  • Sr. Brennan Olander (6-1, 276) - 10 starts, nine straight...took over starting duties at Arizona State on 10/3 giving the defensive line a much needed boost...earned a scholarship in summer of 2009...second on the team with 8.0 tackles for loss, also had 28 tackles...one of the most underrated players on the team...has battled various nagging injuries throughout his career...a former wrestler...a good blend of size and quickness

  • Jr. Kevin Frahm (6-2, 267) - moved to defensive tackle from defensive end in spring of 2010...eight career starts, all at defensive end...started out 2009 as the starter, but replaced by LaGrone on 11/7...a bull rusher with great strength...19 tackles, 2.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks in 2009
     
  • Jr. I'amafana Tuimalealiifano (6-1, 269) - has struggled with injuries throughout his collegiate career slowing his development...did not record a statistic last season...undersized for a defensive tackle
     
  • Sr. Evan Hull (6-4, 276) - walk on who has played on and off the last two seasons...faces an uphill battle for playing time

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  • Sr. Matt LaGrone (6-6, 255) - four career starts...took over starting duties at Cal on 11/7...good length and height...just inches away from making several big plays last season...28 tackles, four for loss, .5 of a sack and two recovered fumbles in '09
     
  • So. Taylor Henry (6-1, 240) - speed rusher, third down specialist...eight tackles, 2.0 for loss and one sack in 2009...mostly ineffective last season, but should be more effective after a year of experience...added 12 pounds between end of 2009 season and spring practice
     
  • RFr. John Braun (6-5, 256) - moved from offensive to defensive line in spring of 2010...another big framed individual who has packed on muscle nicely...mobile and quick...redshirted in 2010

  • Sr. Mitchel Hunt (6-2, 287) - one career start...has been injured every year in Corvallis...may be out for the year with a knee injury...played in seven games last year making two tackles...moved from defensive tackle to defensive end in spring of 2010

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