OSU football: Sean Mannion and offensive line

The Oregon State offensive line averages 303.4 pounds per starter from Michael Philipp’s 320 pounds to the line’s lightweight, Grant Enger, at 293 pounds. (Amanda Cowan | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

At 320 pounds, Michael Philipp has typical offensive tackle heft for his 6-foot-4 frame.

Nevertheless, members of the Oregon State football staff thought Philipp could slim down a shade.

So Philipp got the word that he was to go on a diet program for the offseason.

No chips. Stay away from pizza, burgers and fries.

Nothing strict, Philipp said.

That didn’t make it any easier.

“It was going good for a little bit,” Philipp said. “Then I kind of fell off, I’m not gonna lie.

“I’m still trying to work on that.”

Philipp is still around 320 and he’s doing just fine as the Beavers’ starting left tackle.

It’s not that he had gotten too heavy to play the position. The diet was to keep him within a good weight range for the season.

Weight is an important factor for offensive linemen.

Too much and they’re too slow.

Too little and they might get tossed around by defensive tackles.

“You definitely have to be able to move but at the same time have some weight on you so you don’t get moved around,” Phillip said.

The Beavers don’t get moved around often with this lineup.

In addition to Philipp, right tackle Colin Kelly is 305, center Isaac Seumalo is 302 and guards Josh Andrews and Grant Enger weigh in at 297 and 293, respectively.

Not exactly Wisconsin-type numbers, but not small by any means.

“I don’t want guys that are 330,” offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh said. “What do you need that for? Because you’ve got to be able to run (and) change direction.

“I feel pretty good about most of these kids. I think we’re a stronger group than we have been in the past.”

The starters have found the right weight to allow them to play at the highest level within the system.

Of course, it can take time.

Most linemen aren’t quite big and strong enough when they first arrive from high school.

“Weight is definitely a big key,” Kelly said. “When I first came in I was like 250 and then I kind of stood around 285 and then before you know it I was 305.

“So it’s definitely about progression with your weight on the O-line. You’ve got to make sure you do it slow because your body has to have time catch up and with our offensive scheme, we’ve got to have linemen that can move around, get out on screens and be athletic, believe it or not.”

Kelly’s progression has worked out well.

He has been able to keep his athleticism while gaining size.

He said he was doing well at 285 but gradually got to 305.

“I feel great. I can still dunk a basketball,” he said. “That’s something I’ve been able to do since I was 250.”

At OSU, strength, speed and agility are at a premium.

The offensive linemen are often asked to pull out in front of a ball carrier and there’s constant pass protection.

“You want them all to be pretty athletic but especially at tackle,” Cavanaugh said. “Your center’s got to be a good athlete, too. We ask him to do a lot. We really like to have athletic, mobile guys all across that are strong and that are tough.”

It’s up to Philipp and Kelly to keep pass rushers away from quarterback Sean Mannion.

Good footwork is a must to stay in front of smaller, quicker defenders. That requires agility.

“We’re going against the most athletic pass rushers out there,” Kelly said. “We’ve got different types, we’ve got the base 4 front and then we’ve got the 3-4 front. You’re going against guys that are 220 and are running as fast as some of the wide receivers. So we’re doing a lot more moving around compared to the guards and the center. You’ve definitely got to have good feet.”

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