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Burning Question #5: Front Seven

You may have heard that Oregon State's rush defense was tops in the country last year. You also may have heard that Oregon State lost every single member of their starting front seven from last year's team.

The good news is that defensive coordinator Mark Banker didn't just play seven guys up front last season. OSU likes to switch linemen depending on the situation (pass rush, stopping the run, etc.), so many players got playing time here last season.

To the average fan, all four projected starters on the defensive line (Victor Butler, Pernell Booth, Stephen Paea, and Slade Norris) should sound familiar. Again, that's because they got a lot of playing time last season. Highly heralded recruit Simi Kuli will join the team as s true freshman, but we're not quite sure what to expect from him yet. While we won't have as many situational specialists this year, the defensive line should be solid, although it probably won't be the best in the country.

As far as the linebackers are concerned, they're all new, but there a highly anticipated group. Keaton Kristick will play strong side, or "Sam" linebacker, Bryant Cornell will play Middle linebacker, and Keith Pankey will play weak side, or "Will" linebacker. None of these linebackers started a game last season, and all three of last year's linebackers (Alan Darlin, Joey LaRocque, Derrick Doggett) played heavily in 2006. So that may not be good news for "Linebacker U". Although there's a lot of potential here, there's a lot of potential weakness as well.

Here's a two-deep for the defensive line:

LE Victor Butler (Sr. 6-2 238)  Ben Terry (Jr. 6-3 240
LT Pernnell Booth (Sr. 6-1 302)  Mitchel Hunt (So. 6-2 271)
RT Stephen Paea (So. 6-1 293)  Brennan Olander (So. 6-1 274) 
RE Slade Norris (Sr. 6-3 245) Simi Kuli (Jr. 6-4 270)



Note: This concludes our "Burning Question" series. Previous burning questions: #1 Punter/ Special Teams, #2 Backfield, #3 Quarterback, #4 Offensive Line