21.Dec.2010 Discussion: Offensive Line

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Earlier this week I said what is most disconcerting about 2011 is that Riley seems intent on handing the starting job to the same group of offensive linemen.

From Cliff Kirkpatrick: as of today, this is the starting lineup and depth chart for next year:

  • Left tackle: Michael Philipp, Colin Lyons/Grant Enger
  • Left guard: Grant Johnson, Geoff Garner
  • Center: Josh Andrews, Aaron Magnuson, Roman Sapolu
  • Right guard: Burke Ellis, Michael Lamb
  • Right tackle: Mike Remmers, Colin Kelly

Let's look at each of these on by one.

While Michael Phillipp enrolled as a highly-touted, 4-star prospect, he's probably played a grade below that. Rumor is he was hurt much of this past season, which could explain why he looked more impressive as a freshman. Phillipp seems more suited to guard, so I'd rather see him replace Burke or Ellis.

Left guard Grant Johnson seemed to have the worst season of this group. I do not have the stats in front of me, so this is purely empirical, but there were an alarming number of penalties, missed blocks, and pushes into the backfield before the play could develop. To me Johnson and Burke are the two weakest links.

Center: Alex L was solid much of the year. His only flaw was that he could not execute shotgun snaps. This possibly cost the Beavers the game at TCU. Either way, he is gone, and Joshua Andrews is next in line. Personally, I felt Andrews should have been starting at guard in 2010. He was ready. But, okay, he's slated for center next year. He should do well there, but if Riley slides him out to guard and puts Sapolu at center the line suddenly has a lot more potential. Is Sapolu physically ready for that role? He came in undersized, but I hear he has a great motor and things clicked for him quickly. One more thing: who the heck is Aaron Magnuson and why is he on this list? Another walk-on as a backup??!

Right guard Burke Ellis didn't receive much heat this past season, other than being lumped in with the pejorative "one of 3 walk-ons". This is probably because his name was called out less than Johnson and Remmers. I don't know what to think of Ellis. He's not good in the sense he gets no push in the run game, but he wasn't horrible for a walk-on. If Michal Lamb is his backup, I say stick with Ellis, but the wildcard here is Mau Nomai. He was a high 3-star road grading recruit coming out of HS. He's had two years to physically mature, and with proper training over the next six months he should be able to get into playing shape. Nomani could possibly play guard as well.

Right tackle Mike Remmers is not a very good football player. That he'll have 3 years starting experience is his one perk. Maybe things finally click for him? He plays with a cavalier attitude, and always misses blocks or gets charged with a hold at the most inopportune times (e.g. Canfield driving for the winning score versus Cincy ring a bell?).

These eyes believe this is the best lineup:

  • Tackle: Grant Enger
  • Guard: Michael Phillipp
  • Center: Joshua Andrews
  • Guard: Mau Nomani
  • Tackle: Mike Remmers (lack of a better option)

Another acceptable variation would be this:

  • Tackle: Michael Phillip
  • Guard: Joshua Andrews
  • Center: Roman Sapolu
  • Guard: Mau Nomani
  • Tackle: Grant Enger

A final option:

  • Tackle: Michael Phillip
  • Guard: Geoff Garner
  • Center: Joshua Andrews
  • Guard: Mau Nomai
  • Tackle: Grant Enger

This is probably the strongest unit on paper, but it has the most assumptions in that Garner and Nomani regain playing weight and strength by summer. Also, a lot of people see Garner as a tackle rather than guard. I think he's better off at guard.

I'll say it again: the most disconcerting thing about this off-season has been Riley's reaffirmation that he's going with last year's line. This makes no sense. It is not as if that line didn't get a chance. They  had 12 games to show what they could do, and did just that. Riley's stubbornness and inability to mold and prepare the better talent on the roster should be THE major point of criticism if we see last years line starting versus Sacramento State. I am not here to blindly criticize without reason or without solution. I offered three valid lineups that would improve the team.

Thoughts? Other lineup suggestions?

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  • ean says:
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    I think Remmers is a little better than you give him credit for. Magnuson is a monster… dude super strong and is one of the few linemen over 300 on the team… not sure if that converts to the field but I got no problem letting him walk-on (plus it sounds like some sort of Scandinavian power lifter). I would like to see Phillip worked in to the OG position. He is built for it and is late out of his stance, he would be quicker if he were closer to the ball. Plus if he is going to play NFL ball it will be at OG and he might as well get some experience now. I think though that Riley might have promised him the LT spot that is why we landed him (just speculation though). I hope Sopulo and Enger are bulking up, they are both listed at 260… I don’t care if that is all muscle it is still not enough.

    My only real requests are that every spot is open to competition and that we get our best 5 lineman on the field regardless of whether they are OG’s, OT’s or C’s.

    • angry angry says:
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      Do you believe the 5 linemen who started last season are the 5 best on the roster?

      • ean says:
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        I wanted to see Phillip moved inside to replace Johnson and McAndrews play LT. I don’t know much about the guys that didn’t play this season because I don’t ever go to practices.

    • angry angry says:
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      Note that in my first scenario I have Remmers starting–I think he is the best of the walk-ons b/c he has played so much, so I’m not sure I’m underrating him. He is what he is. A slightly below average tackle. I’m not sure about Enger yet…he’s been coming on, but Remmers might be the best option as of today. We’ll know for sure in the spring.

  • warren says:
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    I have a feeling that Riley isn’t saying what’s really going to happen. I think the OL will be different than last year. i.e. 3 walk-ons won’t be starting.

    I really have a feeling that Enger will get a lot of PT this year.

    • ean says:
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      I think he will definitely open it up to competition. He just values experience in the system almost to a fault. If Riley coached UofO he would have gone Costa over Darron Thomas.

      • angry angry says:
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        Probably re: Thomas. But then he starts James and Wheaton and Phillipp as freshmen, so he acknowledges talent to some extent. He’s just very strange and stubborn with some things. Can’t quite figure it out. Blowing Wheaton’s redshirt year was a huge huge mistake that should not be taken lightly.

        • ean says:
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          All guys with natural football instincts. That is interesting. I think instincts for all but a select few are learned through experience. Maybe there is something to Rileys selection process.

  • JackBeav says:
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    Let’s remember that Garner was not rated as an O-lineman because he was a 6’6″, 275# TE in high school… and he was all-region for three years as a TE.

    He and Nomani can start, and we can still claim the whole ‘walk-on’ thing.

    Then we have Philipp, Enger, Andrews, Sapolu, Beaton… and Jackson coming in this winter.

    I wonder if Westerman looking around takes the Eye of Trojan off Torian White for a while. They are already working on Cyrus Kouandijo. If they put a full court press on Westerman, White might feel slighted.

    • JackBeav says:
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      Oh, and Garner also played hoops and baseball. The kid is a freak of an athlete for his size.

    • angry angry says:
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      Westerman now loves the Ducks (like everyone else).

      • ean says:
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        Dam… I hope some NFL owner comes along and takes a gamble on Chip.

      • JackBeav says:
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        That would be a mistake in his development. He’s a road grader in the run, but his weakness is his speed and footwork on the end in pass blocking. UO’s offense provides nothing for him to use his strengths becuase they rely on misdirection and speed blocking. And they provide nothing in terms of working on his pass blocking due to their scheme.

        I’m still giggling about his teammate (Johnstone) wanting to be an engineer then choosing UO anyway. He’s going to have fun sitting down with his advisor and hearing that the UO path for an engineering degree is to complete the pre-req’s for upperclass physics courses then transfer to OSU.

        Can we say #1 sports marketing department (out of one)?

  • OSU4Life says:
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    Why is it so difficult for OSU to recruit talented Offensive Linemen? Is it size? If it is size, then how do the service academies which have weight limits have physical offensive lines? Especially Air Force and Navy. What will it take for OSU to get an Offensive Line like Wisconsin? OSU must try to win the Northwest in recruiting, and right now we are 5th in the Northwest behind oregon, Washington, Boise State and Wazzu all have better recruiting classes than us!!! IMHO this is NOT okay! I want to be excited about OSU football and athletics again, just bleeding Black and Orange isn’t enough.

    • VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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      The Beavers are 3rd in the northwest as far as recruiting classes go…have you seen Boise State’s and WSU’s class?

      • OSU4Life says:
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        My apologies, I haven’t looked at the rankings on scout.com for about a month. Last time I checked, OSU was ranked 62nd or something and behind every fbs team in the Northwest except Idaho. Now OSU is 44th and as you said 3rd in the Northwest.

  • mckalk mckalk says:
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    I think a interesting question is why higher rated recruits are not interested in the program given some recent trends that seem positive. I.e NFL success, a pro-style offense and the reputation of Cavanaugh. Why was the program not able to capitalize?

    • angry angry says:
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      My opinion:

      1. Shrinking on the big stage/in the big game.
      2. Riley is not aggressive/good at sales.

      They’ve made small strides and now consistently land in the top 5 of high profile guys, but they can’t close. Heyward has done well, so maybe they finally start to land some.

      Also, look at the coaches in the conference. They are ALL uber recruiters outside of Wulf.

      • ObjCritic says:
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        Thinking about this last night, I think OSU is really at risk from slipping from its recent hovering at 3rd place in the Pac-10 to a 4th or 5th place team in the Pac-12 North….

        This situation is not going to be helped by Riley going for the easy recruit signings….

  • ean says:
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    I think a lot of the reason for the O-line woes are the nature of the beast. There are a lot less Pac-10 ready O-line and DT’s out there. Guys at 18 simply aren’t ready to play that position except for a select few that get snapped up by USC, Texas, Bama, etc. Therefore you either got to find guys that are undersized with big frames and get them to add weight or get out of shape big gets and get them into shape. It appears that the staff has targeted undersized athletic kids with big frames. I personally think our O-line is going to be solid in a couple of years but it is a wait and see.

  • Beavocalypse says:
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    I think there’s not as much to talk about. The problem with Riley and offensive lines is that Cav doesn’t change the lines…ever.

    Sadly, I believe that Cliff has the inside scoop, as he and Buker and Eggers are a trifecta of propagandists for Riley.

    • mckalk mckalk says:
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      Probably will never see any probing criticism from those three anyway. As Angry had pointed out Riley and Eggers have a longstanding friendship and Buker/Kirkpatrick need access to the team. I guess Canzano will be the guy to look towards for opinion if the o-line does not improve next year.

  • VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    Hmmmm just saw that Eric Johnson picked UNLV over OSU mostly cause he didn’t want to be behind Quizz on the depth chart hmmmmmm…….

    • mckalk mckalk says:
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      JC guy, right? Hard to blame him, he would not get any carries next year if Quizz stays anyway. Only hope would to be the starter in 2012.

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        Yes. He was down to OSU to WVU a few weeks back and chose UNLV which came out of nowhere.

        I didn’t expect him to choose OSU though because he only had 2 years left and I’m sure didn’t wanna spend 1 year being a backup. He should be the starter for UNLV.

  • VA:F [1.9.22_1171]
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    Just saw Todd Peat is now down OSU, ASU, Nebraska and Stanford. I wonder how much of a shot does OSU have at getting him.

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