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What To Do With Isaac Seumalo?

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Isaac Seumalo is expected to return to the Oregon St. offensive line, but where will he line up at?
Isaac Seumalo is expected to return to the Oregon St. offensive line, but where will he line up at?

The first assumption is that red-shirt junior offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo will be healthy when summer camp starts at Oregon St. next month, and stays that way. The next one is that all 5 of the starters from spring ball will too; otherwise the answer is probably just plug Seumalo into the hole and go forward.

Seumalo hasn't been able to get onto even the practice field since breaking his foot in the 2013 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. Trying to get back in action in the spring of 2014 only aggravated the injury that didn't heal properly after surgery, and wound up requiring a second surgery. That required Seumalo, once an All-Pac-12 lineman that was receiving national attention, to redshirt last year.

That and other disruptions left Oregon St. shuffling their offensive line on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis.

But by the end of the season, health and rotations settled down, and by the time the spring game rolled around, one of the strengths of the squad was a healthy starting 5 comprised of Sean Harlow at left tackle, Fred Lauina at left guard, Josh Mitchell at center, Gavin Andrews at right guard, and Dustin Stanton at right tackle.

Further, Mitchell, who took over for Seumalo at center, and the only lineman to start every game and in the same position last season, has played himself onto the Rimmington Trophy Watch List, so its unlikely that Seumalo returns to his original position.

Fortunetaly, Seumalo is versatile enough to play any of the 5 o-line positions, so new offensive line coach T.J. Woods has plenty of options.

Even before being injured, Seumalo had spent time at tackle as part of the shuffle to fill in for other's injuries, illnesses, and inabilities.

But Harlow has lived up to expectations, and though he has also played guard, is at his best on the edge, and proven a decent back-side protector for the quarterback. Stanton has also made considerable strides, and the depth at the tackle position is on of the better situations on the team, with Bobby Keenan and Will Hopkins a pair that would start for some teams we will see this season. And don't discount the possibility of red-shirt freshman Robert Olson playing his way into the rotation.

At guard, Andrews is entrenched, and at 6'6" and nearly 350 lbs., it's going to take one heck of a lift to get him out of that trench.

All that points to probably returning Lauina to the second string, though with an eye to his replacing Andrews, who will have graduated, a year from now. At which time, Seumalo will probably move back to center, as Mitchell too will have finished his career in Corvallis.

Hopefully, the decision will be made early in summer camp, and last year's lack of o-line consistency early can be avoided. Injuries certainly compounded the problem, but former o-line coach Mike Cavanaugh's inability to assemble a set unit certainly had a lot to do with a disappointing season in both the passing and rushing game last season. With a totally retooled defense, and a freshman at quarterback, that's something the Beavers absolutely must avoid a repeat of if they are going to climb out of the Pac-12 North cellar.

(43 days until we see which 5 will line up against Weber State.)

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com