Jim Michalczik admits it is possible for an offensive line coach to be happy.
It’s just not all that often that is the actual case.
And while Oregon State’s offensive line is progressing, there is still plenty of work to be done, according to Michalczik.
“Yeah, but I’m not (happy) yet,” he said Tuesday. “… There’s still some things we’ve got to keep getting better at.”
The offensive line has made some improvement from the week 1 loss to Ohio State, where it gave up five sacks for 73 lost yards. The line allowed just one sack for a loss of 9 yards last week.
Head coach Jonathan Smith said in the first half of the last game the line was solid not only in the run game but in pass protection, allowing quarterback Conor Blount time to survey the field.
Oregon State (1-1) finished with 360 yards rushing and 289 through the air for 649 total yards against the Thunderbirds.
“We’ve been pleased with those guys, they’ve been working hard,” Smith said. “We were counting on some of their experience to pay off early in the season because we were going to be playing a bunch of younger guys in different spots. I think those guys have improved and played well.”
True freshman running back Jermar Jefferson credited the offensive line for opening up holes last week that allowed him to rush for 238 yards — third most in a single game at OSU — and four touchdowns.
Smith said the combination of the offensive line doing its job and Jefferson displaying his patience worked hand in hand.
“You’ve got to have patience in the hole, but the thing’s got to stay covered up and those guys up front did a good job of that,” Smith said. “He’s got patience, the O-line is covering things up and then we’re getting some perimeter blocks to break some of those long runs.”
Michalczik said the Beavers are steadily progressing on the line. The players still need to work on pass fundamentals and getting in better position.
“I don’t know if there’s ever a where you want to be,” Michalczik said. “I think we have pretty high expectations, pretty high goals, so are we on track for that? I just know we’ve got to improve more this week than we did last week.”
The line will be tested this weekend at Nevada, where the Wolf Pack play a unique 3-3-5 defense.
“What they are very good at is they can create confusion and they can get your players to slow down and stop instead of attacking and being aggressive,” Michalczik said. “And with how hard they play, I really see this defense getting better this year over where they’ve been.
“It’s a different challenge for us. We’ve got to put a little more work in to understand it to put ourselves in the right spot to get the job done.”
Waiting on QB
Smith said Thursday that he wanted to watch the tape of Thursday’s practice before deciding who will start Saturday’s game.
He said the staff would probably let the starter know on Friday.
Smith did say there is a potential that both Conor Blount and Jake Luton would see action.
“I think we need to,” Smith said. “… We’re not going in saying predetermined we will play both of them. We’re going to start a guy, get behind him and let him go. But I do feel confident if we need a spark from another, put him in.”
Blount has been solid in his two appearances this season. He played all but one series in the first half at Ohio State and played the entire first half against Southern Utah.
In those two games, Blount completed 27 of 41 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns. He has yet to throw an interception.
“He just seems really calm and composed,” offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said. “Usually (with some) people there’s a little sense of anxiety or anxiousness on game day and he just doesn’t seem like anything gets to him. I have really been impressed with how he’s been able to handle himself at Ohio State and then here (last) Saturday.”
Luton, who was named the starter the Monday before the Ohio State game, may also see time. He suffered a concussion against the Buckeyes and then played the second half last Saturday. He went 2 for 6 for 34 yards.
Saturday’s game at Nevada will now air on ESPNU as well as streaming online, the school announced. It was going to be the first Beavers’ game to not air on broadcast television since Nov. 21, 2009, at Washington State.