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July 29, 2013

Fall Camp Preview: Defensive Line


Defensive lineman | Dylan Wynn

MORE: Scott Crichton | Fall Camp Headquarters

Rush defense, which has been the Oregon State defense's Achilles heel in recent seasons was anything but in 2012. The big men up front pushed their way to the nation's 27th ranked rush defense, allowing just 129.5 rushing yards per game and under four yards per carry. Only Stanford and Utah were better in conference.

POSITION VITALS
The Beavs lost their two stalwart defense tackles in Andrew Seumalo and Castro Masaniai.
THE BASICS
Returning Starters: Scott Crichton, Dylan Wynn

Others Returning: Lavonte Barnett, John Braun, Akeem Gonzales, Devon Kell, Brandon Bennett-Jackson, Ali'i Robins, Mana Rosa, Noke Tago

Newcomers: Edwin Delva, Siale Hautau, Titus Failauga

Departures: Andrew Seumalo, Castro Masaniai
2012 NUMBERS TO KNOW

In 2012 the Beavers ranked 28 nationally in rush defense, allowing 129 yards per game.

The 2012 defense was second in the PAC 12 in scoring defense, allowing 20.6 points per game.

Scott Crichton ranked 6th in the conference for sacks in 2012, with 9.

BATTLE TO WATCH
The big battle to watch will be at defensive tackle. While the Beavers will play four heavily in the rotation, the question remains as to whether the junior college talent will unseat the younger players who have been in the program for a year or more.

Led by junior bookends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn (9th and 8th respectively on the team in tackles with a combined 10 sacks and 19.7 tackles for loss) some of the nation's best running backs found yards hard to come by. Wynn and Crichton return, but gone are stout D-tackles Andrew Seumalo and Castro Masaniai, both of whom played bigger than their stats may indicate.

The success of the defense looks to hinge upon the ability for OSU to reload at defensive tackle, replacing quality senior starters with (hopefully) equally talented JUCO bodies. Wynn and Crichton will need to continue to play big if OSU hopes to return to their 2012 form up front.

QUESTION HEADING INTO CAMP

As mentioned, replacing the defensive middle will be the biggest question mark as Fall Camp 2013 kicks off. Crichton and Wynn are rock solid on the edges, but beyond Sr. Devon Kell, experienced depth at defensive end is a question mark. JUCO d-ends Charlie Tuaau and Lyndon Tulimasealli have yet to set foot on campus, but could add immediate depth and at 270 pounds, Tulimasealli may have the body to help inside in nickel situations.

JUCO d-tackles Edwin Delva and Siale Hautau were on campus for Spring Practice so they look to be a step ahead of Kyle Peko, who's eligibility remains up in the air. Senior Mana Rosa and Sophomores Ali'I Robins and Brandon Bennett-Jackson will work for their place on the two deep and hope is that one will have progressed enough to push for a starting spot. However it's sliced, OSU will need four quality bodies in the middle that are consistent and reliable.

NEWCOMERS

Junior college transfers Siale Hautau and Edwin Delva are presently on campus and participated in spring drills. Freshman Titus Failuaga is also taking part in the Bridge Program.

Three junior college defensive line signees have yet to qualify, including defensive tackle Kyle Peko, and defensive ends Lyndon Tulimasealii and Charles Tuaau.

PRESSURE IS ON

The defensive tackles. Who will step up? The Beavers will need the junior college transfers ready to go and are hopeful that the young players will be able to contribute early.

PRE-CAMP DEPTH CHART
Heading into Fall Camp here is the current depth chart the way BeaverBlitz.com sees things.
RIGHT END
1. Dylan Wynn JR

Dylan has been solid from the moment he stepped on campus. His frame is now used to the added weight he's put on over the past two seasons and at 260 he's a ball of muscle. Wynn will need to provide more of a pass rush to compliment Crichton as he had only one sack last season and two tackles for loss. Getting a go-to pass rush move could push Wynn's game over the top.

2. Devon Kell SR

Kell has quietly improved his game over the past couple seasons and is poised to be a big time contributor off the edge. Given more reps, there is no reason to think Kell can't drastically improve on his tackle total from last year (8) and provide much needed speed and experience off the right side.

3. Akeem Gonzales SO Gonzales will be called upon in pass rush situations and will need to overcome his lack of size by using his speed. Gonzales' wrestling background could serve him well with leverage around the edge as well. Expect Gonzales to be used similarly to how Rusty Fernando was used.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Edwin Delva JR Big things are expected from Delva, who has had a full spring to acclimate to the OSU defensive schemes. Delva is quick on his feet and at this point is expected to be one of the two starters at d-tackle come August 31st.
Siale Hautau JR

Hautau had a minor setback, breaking his hand early in spring ball, but should be good to go for fall camp. Hautau is the big-body inside that looks to replace the departed Masaniai. Hautau's role will be to occupy blockers and free up his line-mates.

Mana Rosa SR Rosa has been "one to watch" for two seasons now and hopes are that he puts it all together and can be first in line to spell the starters. In a perfect world, Rosa will improve to the point where he can be relied upon to be a starter, but at just 275 it's hard to see him as more than a situational player.
Brandon Bennett-Jackson SO

Bennett-Jackson is ready for action and could be a pleasant surprise for Coach Joe if he can take the next step in his progression. He finally has the size and with reps throughout the fall he should play into the two deep.

Ali'i Robins SO Robins has moved inside form his d-end position a year ago and continues the uphill climb to earn playing time. Coaches will need to see quite a bit of improvement this fall if he hopes to see the field in key game situations.
Noke Tago FR

Tago is still learning the game and reminds us a lot of Stephen Paea, both experience-wise and body-wise. Tago doesn't possess the brute strength of Paea, however is one to watch this fall. With his size, if he can be even slightly effective with his technique, he will occupy space and be a factor in run downs.

LEFT END
1. Scott Crichton JR Crichton is the leader on the d-line and is on the Bronko Nagurski Award Watch List. Big things are again expected from Scott, however teams will focus their blocking schemes on him and more than likely he'll see a lot of double teams and chip blocks from running backs.
2. John Braun SR For Braun it's now or never. He will need to be a key player backing up Crichton and as a senior, there shouldn't be anything he doesn't know in regards to Coach Joe and Coach Banker's schemes. His size is both his advantage and disadvantage, sometimes playing too high. If he can maintain leverage low, he'll be a key contributor in his final season as a Beaver.
3. Lavonte Barnett SO Barnett has all the athleticism in the world for a d-end, it's a matter of knowing his role. He's now a season removed from his OLB position switch and should feel more comfortable, thus heightening his game. He needs to let his natural athleticism take over and should be one to watch for in 2013.





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