Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh was asked what was going through his head when the latest string of injuries hit the starters.
Cavanaugh laughed with little mirth.
“Who’s next?” he said.
Cavanaugh already had to shuffle starters before the season.
Projected right tackle Gavin Andrews was diagnosed with mononucleosis, forcing right guard Grant Enger outside and Roman Sapolu into Enger’s spot.
Now both players are out — Sapolu most likely for the season with a Lisfranc injury and Enger for a few weeks with a hurt knee — and Cavanaugh is going with his third different starting lineup in three games.
That’s because Isaac Seumalo, who is moving from center to right tackle, did not play against Eastern Washington. Josh Mitchell got the start and returns to the spot.
“So we’ve got a lot of guys rotating around,” Cavanaugh said.
The Beavers should be solid with Seumalo, who has the versatility to play any position on the offensive line.
Cavanaugh and defensive line coach Joe Seumalo have been around Isaac for years and Cavanaugh said they had a plan in place to move him to tackle if necessary.
Running back Storm Woods said it’s great to have a player such as Seumalo blocking up front.
“I joked with him earlier, I was like, ‘You want to play running back? You can play any other position,’ ” Woods said. “He’s great. He can play any position and he’s great at it, too.”
Seumalo showed off some of that ability last season by stepping in and starting at center as a true freshman.
He played right tackle at Corvallis High and should settle in with a few days of practice.
“Tackle at the collegiate level definitely has its unique characteristics,” Seumalo said. “Things are just different from center but I’m starting to get back to my old ways playing tackle. Its fun and whatever I’ve got to do to help the team.”
The biggest different comes in pass protection.
Seumalo will often find himself blocking a defensive end or linebacker in space.
“Tackle you’re kind of on an island, especially in the passing game,” he said. “Even sometimes in the running game you’re by yourself. But the tight ends are helping me out.”
Freshman Sean Harlow is the backup.
Harlow has gotten reps at tackle and guard. Cavanaugh said the Beavers want to redshirt him this season.
“But obviously we’re paper-thin here, so he’s got to be ready,” Cavanaugh said.
Grant Bays, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound redshirt freshman, now steps in at right guard.
Cavanaugh said Bays has a lot of talent and now has to take it to the field.
“I feel good because coach Cav, he puts everyone in a good position to succeed,” Bays said. “Anyone can go in and play because he gives you the right tools and you’ve just got to give the effort and put it in and get it done during the game, so I think I’m ready.”
Bays said his strongest attribute as an offensive lineman is his feet.
He can move well and has enough agility to stick on pass rushers.
“I got pretty good feet all around, so pass protection is pretty solid,” he said. “Run blocking is good. It will be a challenge on Saturday, but I’ll get it done.”
There’s no big issue with the new starting five as far as Cavanaugh is concerned.
He just wants to see some better run blocking.
The Beavers rushed for 57 yards on 33 carries against Hawaii.
“Our leverage stunk. We were too high, we’ve got to get underneath people. We’ve got to finish our blocks,” Cavanaugh said.
“Almost isn’t good enough. We’ve got to get our positioning right and we’ve got to finish.”