OSU FALL FOCUS: Defensive line

FOR OREGON STATE to have a successful season, the defensive line simply must produce more sacks and pressure on the quarterback than they did in '09. A strong set of players reside at defensive tackle, and a couple of promising players are at defensive end, but will that be enough to make a definitive difference in 2010?

DE:  Sr. Gabe Miller, So. Andrew Seumalo, RFr. Devon Kell
DT:  Sr. Stephen Paea, So. Castro Masaniai, Sr. Evan Hull, Jr. Ben Motter
DT:  Sr. Brennan Olander, Jr. Kevin Frahm, So. Tonu Tuimalealiifano, Sr. Nathan Hannah
DE:  So. Taylor Henry, RFr. Mana Rosa , RFr. John Braun

PLAYERS LOSTMatt LaGrone (four game starter, 29 tackles, four for loss, two recovered fumbles), Latu Moala (11 tackles), Sioeli Nau (two tackles), Ben Terry (nine game starter, 21 tackles, two for loss),

INJURIES: Mana Rosa (shoulder), Mitchel Hunt (knee)

OVERVIEW:  Cautiously optimistic. Those are two perfect words to describe the Beaver defensive line headed into fall camp.

There is no doubt the line will be stout up the middle with seniors Stephen Paea and Brennan Olander in place -- it's the outside that has fans concerned.

Senior Gabe Miller and sophomore Taylor Henry attempted to quell some of the concerns during the spring with a relentless rush off of the edge.

Miller was steady as a rock this spring, while Taylor was the home run hitter. It's not surprising that the two excelled - the defense is ahead of the offense most of the time in a spring or fall camp. It is eye opening though that they did it - on a consistent basis - against veterans like Mike Remmers and Wilder McAndrews, guys praised by offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh.

DID YOU KNOW: Defensive lineman accounted for 10 of the team's 17 sacks in 2009.

There are multiple reasons why Miller and Henry played well, experience being one of the most important.

Remember that Miller made the switch from tight end to defensive end a year ago, so he spent much of 2009 adjusting to his new role.

With a clear idea of what it takes to be a successful defensive end, the co-team captain hit the weight room hard during the off season adding size, but not losing any of his speed. And now, to use an old cliche - he is just playing football.

In fact some close to the program think Miller is playing well enough he will be up for post season honors. Last season, Miller quietly grabbed 23 tackles, including a co-team high three sacks. BF.C predicts his sack total to at least double in 2010.

Henry is in a similar situation as Miller. Last year was his first year receiving significant playing time. Now he is comfortable and reacting to the play instead of thinking about it.

Coach Mike Riley said that Henry's play reminded him of Slade Norris'.

"He has always been quick and fast, and now he added about 25 pounds," Riley said. "He has strength to go with that speed.

"He's going to be a real factor."

Henry absolutely dominated the spring game wrangling four sacks and another tackle for loss. He simply could not be stopped.

The 6-foot-1, 240-pound player enters the season with just one career sack - a number that is sure to increase this year.

Although Miller and Henry were impressive there is still plenty of concern about the players behind those two.

Of the four backup defensive ends, two are walk-ons, one is a recently converted offensive lineman and one has been injured most of his career in Corvallis.

And it gets worse - not one player has made a tackle. All it not lost though.

The coaches feel sophomore Andrew Seumalo has promise, and if redshirt freshman Mana Rosa can stay healthy, the OSU staff feels he can also make a positive impact.

The team desperately needs Rosa to stay healthy and to step up. A strong rotation is key, but especially late in the season when bodies tend to wear down. A strong fall camp by Rosa and Seumalo could go a long way towards settling some stomachs in Beaver Nation.

With depth a major concern, incoming freshman Scott Crichton has a very good chance at playing early. At 225-pounds, he needs to add some weight, but could be used as a pass rushing specialist.

Redshirt freshman John Braun, who moved from the offensive line to the defensive line in the spring, still figures to be a year out before contributing at a high enough level.

The team absolutely needs junior college transfer Dominic Glover to come in and make a mark. Even if he does not push for a starting spot, at least he is another body with some experience.

With the defensive ends being one of the team's largest concerns, defensive tackle is the position with the fewest amount of questions.

Paea is up for every defensive lineman award in the nation and is almost assured a first team All-Pac-10 spot. Like the other standout players on the team, he improved his game this offseason - specifically the mental part.

"We worked on the mental part of the game," Paea told The Gazette Times. "That's the hardest part of the game, the mental part.

"Every year I made progress and this was a productive spring for me."

Olander is downright nasty in the middle of the field as he takes full advantage of all the attention paid to Paea. He harnessed 28 tackles, including eight for loss, in nine starts a year ago.

Solidifying the depth chart at defensive tackle is Kevin Frahm, who turned in a solid spring, sophomore Castro Masaniai, who made four tackles in 2009 while playing sparingly, and junior Tonu Tuimalealiifano who has battled injuries during his career in Corvallis.

Despite just making the switch to DT, Frahm looks to be the most polished out of the three. With a powerful lower body, he looked like a natural at defensive tackle in full contact work and he was consistently disruptive and looked like he was enjoying himself.

Plus, with his experience at defensive end, Frahm gives the coaches some flexibility on the line.

Converted offensive linemen Ben Motter and Nathan Hannah had standout springs. They were buried on the depth chart on the offensive line but now as d-linemen, they are both in contention for making the travel squad.

In preparation for next year, it's not outside the possibility that incoming freshman Thomas Molesi and Fred Thompson could both play early. But both seem more likely as redshirts, and both have some last minute work to do in the classroom before arriving in the Mid Valley in August.

Since the defensive tackles are so strong, Miller, Henry and others should face one on one coverage all season long. And with a strong secondary backing them up, the defensive ends, and defensive tackles for that matter, will have even more time to get to the quarterback. Doubling their sacks from a year ago (17) is a must if the Beaver defense hopes to hold offenses in check.

A talented defensive backfield, and a defensive line that excels at stopping the run, and teams will have to throw quickly on the Beavers or try and run to the outside. Either way, OSU should win those battles.

STATS: Stephen Paea (43 tackles, 8.5 for loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles), Brennan Olander (28 tackles, eight for loss) Gabe Miller (23 tackles, five for loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles), Kevin Frahm (19 tackles, 2.5 for loss), Taylor Henry (8 tackles, two for loss), Castro Masaniai (four tackles, one for loss ), Mitchel Hunt (two tackles),



So. Taylor Henry. It was a throw up your hands moment when projected starter Matt LaGrone quit on the eve of spring ball to spend time with his family. But Henry not only filled in ably, he dominated. Jr. Kevin Frahm. Solidified depth at defensive tackle with a rock solid spring camp.

So. Taylor Henry. Could be in for a breakout year after getting comfortable as a starter and dominating the spring game.

WHO TO WATCH RFr. Mana Rosa. If, and it's a big if, Rosa can stay healthy he has the skills to make an immediate impact.
COMING IN THE FALL DE Scott Scott Crichton (The 2009 Tacoma News Player of the Year has great football instincts and could play as a true freshman)  DT Fred Thompson (Has nimble feet and a great get off of the ball, but needs to retake an Algebra class before being admitted to OSU), DT Thomas Molesi (Aggressive, nasty player who also has work to do in the classroom). DE Dominic Glover (A junior college transfer whom the coaches are hoping makes an immediate impact).
Stopping the run. Oregon State gave up an average of 114.3 rushing yards per game a year ago - the 25th lowest total in the nation. Sacks. Only 15 FBS teams grabbed fewer sacks than OSU in 2009.




Sr. Gabe Miller (6-3, 249) - hit the weights hard in 2010...ran the fastest 10-yard dash on the entire team in spring of 2010...12 career starts, five straight...took over starting duties at Cal on 11/7...had a good off season 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. Mana Rosa (6-3, 250) - missed 2010 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

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



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) - 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) - a strong showing in 2010 spring practice has him in the mix for the travel squad...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) - in the mix to make the travel squad after a strong showing in spring of 2010...moved from offensive to defensive line in spring of 2010



Sr. Brennan Olander (6-1, 276) - It is not known what punishment Olander will receive a stolen bike in his possession.  He had to do 65 hours of community service at the Corvallis Boys and Girls Club...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...looks comfortable and was effective at defensive tackle...excellent lower body strength...eight career starts, all at defensive end...started out 2009 as the starter at DE, but replaced by Matt LaGrone on 11/7...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



So. Taylor Henry (6-1, 240) - dominated the 2010 spring game grabbing four sacks...added 25 pounds in the offseason, but kept his speed...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

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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