Will experience translate to fireworks on O?

MICHAEL PHILIPP

IN 2013, Oregon State will feature something they haven't had in a while. And it's long been a key in college football, a tipping point in determining wins...

An experienced, senior-laden offensive line.

Oregon State will bring back three seniors up front – LT Michael Philipp, LG Josh Andrews and RG Grant Enger, and four starters overall with sophomore Isaac Seumalo.

Normally a sophomore up front is seen as a liability but Seumalo is the exception to the rule. His true freshman campaign was striking, so much so that he's being tabbed by some for first-team all conference honors this season.

Philipp recaptured much of his previous form this past season, he started off strong in the upset over Wisconsin and played steadily throughout the season.

Andrews is underrated. He's not flashy -- all he does is neutralize people.

Enger injured his ankle in the loss to Stanford and the Beaver o-line took a step backwards in his absence and as he continued to heal.

The lone position up for grabs is likely right tackle. Derek Nielsen would have likely been the odds-on favorite but he surprisingly transferred to Sac State.

His chief competition would have been Gavin Andrews, the player most are picking to now assume the starting role.

Andrews is a load at 6-5, 325, and he has a background as a wrestler. Those kinds of o-linemen tend to use leverage better and understand pad level earlier. Andrews was a true freshman this past season but is beginning to steadily work his way up the ladder.

Beyond those five, Josh Mitchell, Grant Bays, David Keller, Justin Addie and Roman Sapolu are also in the mix. Mitchell in particular figures to be a valuable piece in that he's versatile, with the ability to line up at any of the interior spots. Headed into the spring, he figures to be the Beavs' super sub at this point.

Oregon State's starting five last year only failed to miss two starts, with Nielsen filling in twice for Enger. If the Beavs in 2013 can remain similarily healthy, they could be one of the conference's better units. To do that, though, they will need to improve in run blocking.

OSU provided a nice pocket for the most part in 2012 for their QBs, but the same wasn't true of the running lanes. Sometimes they were there, sometimes they weren't.

Oregon State rushed for 1,617 yards last year, an average of 124.4 per game. But 230 of those hashes came against Nicholls State.

Too many times last season, OSU was stymied in their running game, the trifecta of Storm Woods, Terron Ward and Malcolm Agnew failed to move the chains and put together 100-yard performances.

The running lanes just weren't there and OSU did not have a back who could consistently make yards all on his own.. This year, with all the experience returning, that should change. And that freedom to run would in turn open up the passing game even further.

Oregon State ranked No. 43 among 119 teams in total offense last season. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Beavs jump into the Top 25 there in 2013, with the offensive line leading the way.

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