Tackles are key to Oregon State's offensive success

2010-08-11T21:45:00Z 2010-08-12T17:24:03Z Tackles are key to Oregon State's offensive successBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

Mike Remmers and Michael Philipp form the walls of the passing pocket for Oregon State quarterback Ryan Katz.

For him to have a chance at success as a first-year starter, those two offensive tackles must hold up under intense pressure so Katz has enough time to get the ball to his playmakers.

Philipp protects the right-hander's blindside as the left tackle, while Remmers contains rushers Katz sees come at him on the right.

Both are returning starters. Remmers, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound former walk-on from Portland, will start for a third year, while Philipp, at 6-3, 307 pounds, hopes to build off a steady true freshman season.

"We always have a big responsibility, but I'm really excited for Ryan Katz to get out there," Remmers said. "I think he's going to be successful out there. It's going to be fun."

The tackle position overall is a strength of the offensive line. Seniors Wilder McAndrews and Timi Oshinowo add depth as steady backups.

Offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh places the top five guys out there, so while Remmers and Philipp are expected to perform, their motivation is to keep the capable McAndrews and Oshinowo at bay. Both have been considered starters at one point in their careers.

"The two Mikes, we feel really good about," coach Mike Riley said. "And we've never had the benefit of the backups we've had with Wilder, Timi and Grant Enger."

Cavanaugh has been impressed with Remmers from the start, and with the improvements he's made. Now the coach hopes to instill the right killer instinct so Remmers can finish blocks with authority.

Philipp, a four-star recruit from San Bernardino, Calif., didn't disappoint when was thrust into the starting lineup last year. He was named to two freshman all-American teams.

"We think both those tackles are going to be great players for us," Cavanaugh said. "They must put their mind to it, finish blocks and play with that toughness. They have great athletic ability, they are smart guys and if you combine that with a nasty streak, you got something."

Philipp missed most of spring practice with a minor knee injury. He had a scope done to clean out loose cartilage that locked up his joint.

He completed his rehab in early May and has been going full-speed in the weight room since.

"I feel good and the knee is good, too," Philipp said. "I think the rehab was good, and I'm confident my knee is back."

Now he has to overcome a broken nose he suffered Friday in a pre-camp drill when his brother, who was helping out, hit him with an elbow. He's expected back Saturday.

Philipp will stay on the left side this season. He was placed there last year because Remmers was on the right and considered the top pass blocker at the time.

He was needed to protect last year's quarterback, left-hander Sean Canfield, and his blindside.

Now it's Philipp's turn to take on that important responsibility. Coaches believe Philipp has the potential to dominate in that role.

"I know Katz is a hard worker," Philipp said. "I have confidence he'll do his job. As long as I do my job, he'll be all right."

Remmers doesn't mind relinquishing the high-profile pass blocking spot to Philipp. They work together each day in practice, and he has been impressed with the underclassman's development.

Philipp was never overwhelmed last year. He was mature for his age, and it's still evident in practice.

"He's starting to understand the offense more than before," Remmers said. "He's more confident out there making calls. He's louder out there."

The two Mikes are vital to the offense, but they are part of a group of five linemen who must work together. When they look inward at each other they like what they see.

Left guard Grant Johnson and center Alex Linnenkohl are returning starters. A new right guard will be next to Remmers, so there's an added responsibility for him to bring along the new starter.

"We'll be as good as we want to be," Remmers said. "It's up to us. We have the chance to have one of the best Oregon State seasons ever. That's what we are shooting for."

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