Oregon State’s offense appears to be shaping up to have the potential to put plenty of points on the scoreboard this season.
The Beavers are deep and talented at the skill positions, and either Jake Luton or Tristan Gebbia at quarterback look to have the ability to guide the offense.
But in order to have success, the Beavers will need to find at least three new starters along the offensive line.
Deciding on a starting lineup and getting those players to work together during training camp will be crucial for the Beavers to be successful in 2019.
“I’m happy where we’re at from where we were a year ago,” offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said Friday night after the second day of camp. “I’m real excited about that part. There’s a lot of things I think we can get better at. We’ve got 24 practices and I think we were a lot better (Friday) than we were (Thursday) but we’ve still got to get a lot better.”
The big key, Michalczik said, is to make sure each day to become a more cohesive unit.
“Just being able to be as a unit, playing as one and not five individual players is key for us right now and I think we’re taking steps to get there right now,” said redshirt junior Nous Keobounnam, listed at 6-foot 2, 285 pounds.
Keobounnam, who worked mostly at center last season, is also getting work at the guard position. While there are intricacies to each position, having played center has helped him make the adjustments.
“Just knowing that one position makes me know multiple positions,” he said, noting he doesn’t care where he plays. “… I just want to be on the field and help us win games.”
Redshirt senior left tackle Blake Brandel (6-7, 307) and senior left guard Gus Lavaka (6-4, 347) are the two returning starters. Arizona graduate transfer Nathan Eldridge (6-3, 300) is likely the favorite to earn the nod at center but is coming off an injury that wiped out his season last year.
Keobounnam, redshirt sophomore Brandon Kipper (6-6, 305), redshirt senior Clay Corodasco (6-5, 314), freshman Joshua Gray (6-4, 287) and redshirt freshman Jake Levengood (6-4, 284), among others, are in the mix.
“We’ve been doing a good job up front. We’ve got some pretty vanilla looks so far from the defense,” Gebbia said after Friday’s practice. “Obviously it’s only day one of install, but we picked up some pressures (Friday) and I’m real confident in what they can do up front.
“Coach Michalczik is really getting those guys right and Nous, Jake Levengood, Nate, they’re really getting things squared away up front and making our job a whole lot easier. If those guys can be great it’s going to make it easy for me and Jake.”
Michalczik said he's already seen a much better understanding of the system and what they are trying to accomplish this season.
So how good can the line be this season?
“We’ll see,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to finding out. I think, like I said, just keep getting better every day and then let’s go test ourselves on Saturdays.”
Redshirt senior defensive lineman Jeromy Reichner left the field late in Saturday's practice with an apparent left leg injury.
Reichner was also injured in camp last year, missed the start of the season and played in only five games.
There was no update on his status at the end of practice.
The Beavers are off Sunday and return to practice Monday, when coach Jonathan Smith could have an update on the extent of the injury.