The Oregon State football team enters its season opener Thursday at Minnesota with two major question marks on the offensive line.
Redshirt freshman left tackle Blake Brandel and sophomore center Yanni Demogerontas will be making their collegiate debuts.
“It’s a big moment for the two young kids to line up, to be at two critical, critical positions,” coach Gary Andersen said.
THURSDAY, SEPT. 1
Oregon State vs. Minnesota
When: 6 p.m., at TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minn.
TV: Big Ten Network
Demogerontas replaces Josh Mitchell, who made 27 career starts, including the final 24 of his college career.
Andersen noted that every position on the offensive line is important, but “I always think the center’s the most important cause that’s where I played (in college),” he said with a smile.
Brandel is in a key position as well because he’ll be protecting the blind side of quarterback Darell Garretson.
“There’s pressure and stuff, but I’m confident,” Brandel said. “It’s a whole line deal. Lots of people don’t realize the communication behind it all. There’s a lot more that goes on than just blocking the guy in front of you.”
Aside from Brandel and Demogerontas, the Beavers have a veteran offensive line with senior right tackle Dustin Stanton (18 career starts), junior left guard Fred Lauina (15 starts) and senior right guard Gavin Andrews (10 starts), who missed last season with a foot injury.
OSU is expected to be improved offensively, but the line needs to produce. All eyes will be on Brandel and Demogerontas.
“They’ve done their best to get to this moment, to get themselves in this position to go play,” Andersen said, “and if we didn’t think they could do it, then they wouldn’t be there.”