Oregon State offensive line should continue to excel: Beavers football 2022 post-spring analysis

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With Oregon State’s spring practices in the rearview mirror, we look at each of the Beavers’ positions groups heading into the 2022 season.

Today, we review the offensive line:

Projected August depth chart

first-team

LT: Joshua Gray, 6-4, 296, Soph.

LG: Marco Brewer, 6-4, 297, Jr.

C: Jake Levengood, 6-4, 288, Jr.

RG: Brandon Kipper, 6-6, 327, Mr.

RT: Taliese Fuaga, 6-6, 331, Soph.

second-team

LT: Tommy Spencer, 6-5, 258, Soph.

LG: Nick Suing, 6-3, 304, Soph.

C: Tanner Miller, 6-1, 274, Soph.

RG: Joe Quillin, 6-1, 280, Soph.

RT: Brian Espinoza, 6-4, 299, Soph.

Rest of offensive line

Henry Buckles, 6-2, 286, R-Fr.

Zach Holmes, 6-2, 295, R-Fr.

Marco Balestrieri, 6-3, 288, R-Fr.

Campbell McHarg, 6-2, 299, R-Fr.

Jason White, 6-3, 296, R-Fr.

Jacob Ferenczi, 6-5, 300, R-Fr.

Dylan Lopez, 6-3, 293, Fr.

Heneli Bloomfield, 6-4, 308, Soph.

Tyler Moreno, 6-5, 276, R-Fr.

Tyler Voltin, 6-4, 361, R-Fr.

Arriving this summer

Nathan Elu, 6-5, Fr.

Jacob Strand, 6-5, Fr.

Luka Vincic, 6-5, Fr.

Loss from 2021

Korbin Sorensen, 6-5, 296

Nathan Eldridge, 6-4, 297

Cooper Darling, 6-4, 342

Nous Keobounam, 6-4, 294

Dakota Napierkowski, 6-4, 215

Oregon State football vs.  Stanford

Oregon State’s BJ Baylor (4) celebrates his touchdown run with lineman Marco Brewer (60) as the Beavers face the Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-12 football game on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021, at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. Oregon State won 35-14. Photo by Leon Neuschwander for The Oregonian/OregonLiveLeon Neuschwander for The Oregonian/OregonLive

2021 production from OSU offensive line: The unit was considered one of the Pac-12′s best, and for much of the season, among the nation’s top offensive lines. It was easy to quantify, as the Beavers routinely mashed their way to 200+ yard rushing games. In Eldridge, the Beavers had one of the nation’s most experienced centers who had elevated his game with successful second-level blocking. To Eldridge’s right of him were a pair of three-year starters in Keobounnam and Kipper, and to his left of him, a projected NFL tackle in Gray. If there was a flaw, the Beavers didn’t consistently thrive through the air, though statistically, OSU ranked second in the conference in fewest sacks allowed. One reason Oregon State had few worries at offensive line was health, as four of the five regulars started every game they played during the 2021 season.

spring-progress: The two biggest changes were replacing the graduated Eldridge with Levengood at center, and moving Kipper, a three-year starter at right tackle, to right guard. With Kipper and Fuaga, Oregon State should have one of the beefiest right sides in the Pac-12. Levengood has some experience at center, and has played several positions, so he’s hardly a rookie. The emphasis this spring wasn’t so much establishing a starting lineup – that was well known heading into the offseason – but establishing depth. Injuries kept OSU from making significant progress among backups, so look for furious action during August camp to determine key backups.

Jonathan Smith says

Right side with Kipper and Fuaga: “We’re pretty solid on that side. Really, both sides. But Kipper coming inside, he might be more natural at the next level playing guard. Then Tali, he got some time last year, and did some good things. But it doesn’t dramatically change the scheme or anything.”

Decision to move Kipper to guard: “It started with Kipper and conversations he had when he went through the NFL process of considering coming back or not. A lot of it came back that he was going to be targeted as a guard. Through conversations, we felt like, let’s put some tape out there, playing some guard for a year. And we did have confidence that we had a really good option in Tali at right tackle.”

Comfort level with Levengood at center: “Yeah, I feel good. He has played a decent amount in multiple positions in his career here. He started games, he knows the offense. We feel like he’s gonna be a really good center.”

State of the left side: “Marco Brewer had a really good spring. Watching some of the tape he stood out. I have improved his game. He’s athletic, he’s got more physical you can see how confident he is, and some of that benefit of playing next to Josh. Those two are in a nice rhythm right now.”

Concerns about depth: “We had some guys that were injured in the spring, like Heneli, which was disappointing just because he’s been here and we think he can be a pretty good player. Tommy Spencer, his first spring training, the plan was to play tackle, so we knew that it was going to take some time. Jason White, he wasn’t able to do much in the spring, and we think he’s going to be a pretty good player. We get these guys back, we’re feeling better about things.”

Outlook: Potentially, Oregon State’s offensive line could be as good as it was in 2021. Brewer now has a year of starting experience, and coupled with Gray, the Beavers could challenge to have one of the better left sides in the conference. The right side is interesting. Will Kipper adapt to playing inside? Can Fuaga handle top-notch outside linebackers and defensive ends? Levengood isn’t Eldridge, but he had a solid spring and he’s been in offensive line coach Jim Michalczik’s system for five years.

–Nick Daschel | ndaschel@oregonian.com | @nickdaschel

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