This “Breaking Down the Beavers” post will take a quick look at OSU’s offensive line. While many fans struggled with the players on the offensive line last year, the returning core is as experienced as we have ever had at OSU and with new coaches Woods and Simon, they could also be the best versions of those players.
The Beavers return the main core of their 2014 squad with starters Dustin Stanton, Josh Mitchell, Sean Harlow, Fred Lauina and Gavin Andrews returning. Along with those five is the hopeful return of Isaac Seumalo.
The only lineman from the 2010 and 2011 classes to make it through at least four years at Oregon State, Roman Sapolu graduated last year.
Blake Brandel from Central Catholic in Portland, Miki Fifita from IMG Academy in Florida, Zach Lucas from James E. Taylor in Texas and JC transfer Sosaia Tauaho from Laney C.C. in California
Assuming that Isaac and Gavin are good to go by the Michigan game, this will be the most experienced and possibly most talented line OSU has fielded since 2007. Across the board you have players with multiple years of starting experience at every position. Even if Isaac is not able to go, Fred Lauina has more than five starts under his belt.
Depth. To be honest, this is a scary proposition as you have six players that have played a lot and then a bunch of question marks. Especially at tackle. Will Hopkins has made a lot of strides and the hyper athletic sophomore is mostly just a few pounds from being in the mix. On the inside, Drew Clarkson is physically ready and just needs to be mentally ready to go, especially on his snaps if he plays at center. Outside of those two, there is a lot of unknowns. Sosaia Tauaho could be an immediate contributor if he is ready to go and walk-on Mason Johnson showed quite a bit of talent this spring.
Health and strength are going to be the big factors this year. Young players like Olson, Moore and Demogerontas need to really make strides physically to be ready to play. This is where Coach Simon is key. If he can work the magic he did at Wisconsin here at OSU, physically, OSU will have a dominant offensive line. The increases in squat strength and just overall power on this team since his arrival has been amazing. OSU is living up to the old football addage that you prepare hard enough that games are easy. The workouts have been spirited, effective and competitive. Players are making sure their teammates are doing their work. Last year players were often in the right place, but execution either due to physical restraints (injuries) or inferiority compared to their opponents really hurt their ability to finish blocks.
With the experience there, if this group of six players, and the players that most want to be part of that necessary supporting cast can get it done on the track and in the weight room, this will be the strength of the team next year and it will pave the way for other position groups to stake their claim on that title as well. But as we all know, it start up front. In a year that teams are wholesale replacing their offensive lines in the Pac-12, OSU has an opportunity to be THE dominant front five in the conference.
Go Beavs! (PRO)*
* Yes, I stole this from Raju because it is cool.