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May 1, 2009Offensive lineman is arguably the most difficult position to play in football, sans quarterback. Whether you're a guard, tackle or center, it requires a good mix of brawn and brains.
Especially at Oregon State where offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh demands perfection. But if you ask any of the linemen, they will tell you there's something even more crucial to their success.
"Chemistry is everything," senior Gregg Peat said. "It takes time to bring someone in and get that chemistry back."
Added sophomore Mike Remmers: "We work out everyday, go to film everyday, so I know they are working just as hard as me to be the best they can out there. So I know that I can trust them out there. Chemistry is very important."
And this spring the Beavers have been working especially hard on developing chemistry. Gone from last season are Andy Levitre and Adam Speer, who were the unquestioned leaders of the unit last season. Peat, who has assumed a leadership role, said it has been different without them, and not just because he was roommates with them.
"With Andy and Speer gone you can see it," Peat said. "It's just not the same. Now we are getting there. We are having a good spring and pushing toward that feeling. By fall the goal is to be ready."
Fortunately, spring practice is an ideal time for the Beavers to see what positions need filled, usher in younger linemen and see what they can do and get ready for fall camp when even more players will join the program. It also gives Peat and Remmers a chance to help out more.
"If there's a younger tackle coming in that has a question, I love to help," Remmers said. "I'll do anything to help them. They are pretty much my brothers, my family. We all try to help each other as best as we can."
Added Peat: "When you're younger, the first thing Cav emphasizes is technique. He wants our technique to be perfect. It's his way or the highway basically. So I would say the hardest thing to get down is technique but once you get it and work in the weight room, it all comes together."
That's not to say that spring ball is laid back. Peat said there's plenty of competition to keep things lively. However, he added it's a little more relaxing in the sense the players don't have to worry about a game coming up. The focus is on fundamentals and building a base for the season to work off of. It's also about forming bonds with the younger or newer lineman. Communication and trust are very important on the field.
"You've got to know when you are playing next to someone and coming into them," Peat said. "And how he's approaching it too."
And that's a big reason why the linemen spend almost as much time off the field together as they do on it. They have to be friends to get along and develop chemistry. Remmers said they watch movies, have bbqs and play video games often. No wonder the linemen are widely considered the tightest group on the team. Remmers joked that everyone wants to be a lineman because they are so cool.
Sure enough, Peat said several of the younger linemen have stepped up and impressed him this spring, while junior college transfer Brent McNeil who redshirted last season, has looked really good.
"Colin Kelly has stepped up and is taking reps with the ones," Peat said. "That's big for us because we needed a guy to step up at tackle. Both him and Timi have done a really good job. Grant Johnson and Ben Motter with the twos are working really hard. They were in the weight room all winter busting as much as they could."
And Peat would like to clear the air about something. He knows onlookers might think he can't block anyone because he gets beat up in practice by Beavers defensive tackle Stephen Paea. He, however, said going up against Paea and holding his own means he can block anybody.
Besides, if you don't trust him, Peat will probably find a way to prank you and get even. Remmers said Peat is the prankster of the group because he can get away with things. That's just one of the benefits of being a senior.
Considering Peat's development over the last four years, maybe having a sense of humor is another key element to building chemistry. At least it is at Oregon State