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Road ahead could be a bit rocky for OSU

Beavers need more TDs to complement strong defense


Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tight end Connor Hamlett pulls away from Portland State for yardage in last week's Oregon State season opener. The Beavers will be looking for better offensive efficiency Saturday at Hawaii, which nearly upset Washington in its opener.CORVALLIS — Oregon State’s offensive line will get a more stern test Saturday when the Beavers visit

Hawaii for an intersectional clash on the islands.

The Warriors held Washington to 336 yards total offense in a 17-16 loss in the season opener for both teams last Saturday.

“They’re real physical up front,” OSU O-line coach Mike Cavanaugh says. “They played Washington tough, had a chance to win the game.

“They play with good leverage. They’re going to move as soon as the ball is snapped, they use their hands well — it’s a challenge. We have to step way up.”

Though Oregon State managed 25 first downs, 505 yards total offense and 177 yards rushing in its opening 29-14 win over Portland State, Cavanaugh graded his O-line’s performance as “average. A ‘C,’ I’d say.”

Quarterback Sean Mannion completed 26 of 45 passes for 328 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions. But he was sacked three times, hurried several others, and missed on a number of throws to open targets.

“We expected pressure, (the Vikings) brought it, and the O-line handled it well,” Mannion says. “I played OK, but there were a lot of plays that could have been made, especially in the red zone. There was stuff we could have done to put more points on the board.

“I need to give our (receivers) a little bit more of a chance. There were a couple of balls I left high going to Connor (Hamlett). A lot of it is just being sharper in general. It’s not any major changes — just little things.”

Of the five O-linemen who started Saturday, only right tackle Sean Harlow was a consensus starter a year ago.

“Sean is always going to give you everything he’s got,” Cavanaugh said. “He’s tough as nails and loves playing. For his first game, (left guard) Garrett Weinreich was pretty solid. (Center) Josh Mitchell was solid, too, except for the first snap of the game (over QB Sean Mannion’s head). I was ready to kill him. But he has improved dramatically from a year ago with his lateral movement and quickness.”

Cavanaugh was most concerned with the play of 6-5, 340-pound left tackle Gavin Andrews, who let defenders slip around the edge several times to pressure Mannion. Cavanaugh believes Andrews has NFL

potential.

“Gavin should be a dominant player,” Cavanaugh says. “He has to buy into specific things technique-wise. He could use his hands way better on both the run and pass. He should be able to snatch a (defender) up on a run-block and drive him into the ground. I expect him to improve Saturday. He has to.”

Right guard Grant Bays sat out Monday’s practice with a sore hamstring. If he can’t go against Hawaii, 6-2, 275-pound senior Roman Sapolu — who started the first two games last year before suffering a season-ending foot injury — will get the nod.

“Roman has been in the system a long time and knows what to do,” Cavanaugh says. “The mental part of it is just as big as the physical part of it.”

Harlow agrees with his coach’s grade on the O-line’s performance in the opener, but doesn’t think there are major adjustments necessary.

“There are a lot of little things we have to clean up that are the difference between being a C and a B,” the 6-4, 290-pound sophomore says. “We’ll need to get that up in the A range against Hawaii, but we can do that.

“We had some injuries during the summer and in (training camp) that slowed us, but we’re starting to click better. We’ll get the communication cleaned up. The first game is always tough, not knowing what to expect. We’ll do a lot better this week.”

Seven of Oregon State’s 13 penalties came on the offensive side, including three false starts — two by tight end Caleb Smith.

“It’s embarrassing how many penalties we had,” Harlow says.

The Beavers were 3 for 14 on third-down conversions and scored touchdowns only twice in nine trips in the red zone.

“We have to be more efficient down there and make plays,” Harlow says.

First-year offensive coordinator John Garrett was not displeased with the offensive production, other than the lack of touchdowns.

“The guys battled after putting themselves in some tough situations. But we have to score more points. The guys know it could have been a lot easier if we’d score some touchdowns instead of field goals.”

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