Coach Cavanaugh's offensive line may be young, but as head coach Mike Riley has said, "they look good coming off the bus." Now, the question remains, will they look good in games? (Photo by Ethan Erickson)
Fall Camp has concluded at Oregon State, as the team will now move into preparing for their home and season opener against Portland State this Saturday. The Vikings-- who are rumored to be installing more "run" in their "run-and-shoot" this season-- will provide a legitimate test to the Oregon State defense. We'll dive more into that later, but as the old saying goes, "if they don't score, we don't lose." BUT, if they do score, that means that the Oregon State offense will need to be putting points on the board, which likely means that the rebuilt offensive line is doing a good job of opening holes for the likes of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jovann Stevenson.
(This, by the way, is the final installment of our "Fall Camp Questions" series that has been going on throughout the month of August. Don't be surprised if this post feels more like a position-by-position look at this year's O-Line,. as the starters have practically been named at each position. Check out links to the six other posts at the bottom of this entry.)
For the first time in a long time, the Beavers will likely go to battle with the 6-3, 320 pound true freshman giant Michael Philipp as their starting left tackle. Philipp has been worked over in practice several times by Oregon State's speedy defensive linemen--Kevin Frahm especially--but overall, has adapted well to the change of pace. He'll step in as the heir-apparent to Andy Levitre at the left tackle position, and has big shoes to fill-- but the San Bernardino native has the the size, speed, and smarts to pull it off.
OH, AND BY THE WAY... the countdown clock at the left of this page has been properly re-adjusted and is now accurate.
Mike Remmers will play the right tackle position, He's a year removed from starting seven games in place of Tavita Thompson, after walking on. He's since earned a scholarship, and as a sophomore, is becoming a big part of what Oregon State is doing on the offensive line.
Grant Johnson, a Baker City native and also a former walk-on, has perhaps been the biggest surprise of fall camp. Listed on the Pre-Spring Camp depth chart as the back-up center to Alex Linnenkohl, he has won the competition at left guard, and will likely start alongside Michael Philipp when the Beavers take the field this Saturday. His story is a great one, and is told by Jeff Smith of the Oregonian. Basically, Johnson elected to walk-on to the Beavers after growing up a fan-- both his parents went to school in Corvallis-- and after two years in the program, has summited the depth chart, the old-fashioned way.
Alex Linnenkohl returns as a 13-game starter from 2008 and will anchor the offensive line at the center position. He's battled a knee injury throughout camp, but appears to have recovered and should be healthy for Saturday's opener.
Gregg Peat rounds out the group at right guard, and will start next to Remmers. Peat will be a senior this year and is a co-team captain. He also started all 13 games last year, all at right guard.
To review, here is how the group looks, from left to right:
Michael Philipp - Grant Jonson - Alex Linnenkohl - Gregg Peat - Mike Remmers
Overall, offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh is impressed with his young group heading into the season:
"I think we're going to be fine. I'm excited about these guys. We're a little bit young in some spots, but to be honest with you we've got more depth than we've ever had.''
While the Beavers don't have USC-type depth on their offensive line, there are several players who were expected to start on the offensive line before fall camp began who have either been surpassed or lost their spots. Ryan Pohl and Michael Lamb come to mind, and guys like Colin Kelly and Wilder McAndrews also have experience in the program.