Spending time breaking down the Oregon State Football team this month position-by-position has been revealing. The Inside Linebacker position is like just about every other spot on this roster. It is deeper and stronger with more experience. This position could be a difference maker for Jonathan Smith, Tim Tibesar and Trent Bray.
Shermar Smith is the senior from Miami who will anchor this position. The above video plays up the fact that he led this group last season. His stats are pretty solid:
• Enters 2019 with 27 games played, totaling 13 starts
• Has 102 tackles, including seven for a loss, with one sack and one interception, adding four pass breakups and three quarterback hurries
• Played in all 12 games, making 10 starts
• Totaled 85 tackles - second on the team - with four tackles for loss, one sack, an interception and four pass breakups
• Posted a season-high 12 tackles twice - against California and Oregon. Against the Ducks, also had half a sack
• Finished with 1.5 TFLs, half a sack and six tackles at Washington
• Tallied nine tackles, an interception with a 17-yard return, one pass deflection and a QB hurry at Stanford
• Opened the season with a 7-tackle game at Ohio State
• Totaled back-to-back 8-tackle games at Colorado and at home versus USC. Also had two pass breakups versus the Buffaloes
Avery Roberts is a transfer from Nebraska who sat out 2018. Coach Jonathan Smith says he makes them better at ILB right away. His Freshman season with the Cornhuskers was pretty impressive:
• Transferred to the program from Nebraska early in the season. Did not play due to NCAA transfer rules
• Played in all 12 games and was one of two true freshmen to play for Nebraska in 2017
• Made four tackles, all on special teams
• Earned a spot on the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll in his first semester
Linebackers Coach Trent Bray breaks down his play for us:
Isaiah Tufaga got a lot of playing time as a true Freshman and no doubt he will be busy in 2019
• Played in nine games, starting three
• Made 36 tackles - 25 solo - with 3.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry
• Posted five tackles in his career opener at Ohio State, also getting the start
• Finished with a season-best nine tackles against Southern Utah, finishing with 1.5 for loss
• Picked up eight tackles versus California, with two for a loss
What about Omar Speights the 6'1" 225 pound Freshman from Philadelphia? Coach Bray once again from the film room!!
Speights is the younger brother of OSU Defensive End Jeremy Reichner.
Others to potentially make an impact:Kyrei Fisher a transfer who won't be able to practice with the team until August.
One other player who could really step up is Doug Taumoelau, the Redshirt Junior from Glendale Utah.
• Enters the 2019 season with 22 games played, tallying 65 tackles, with 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and one quarterback hurry
• Has started three games
2018 (REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE)
• Played in all 12 games, making three starts
• Recorded 54 tackles with 1.5 tackles for loss, one sack and a quarterback hurry
• Picked up a career-high 11 tackles in the season finale versus Oregon, adding half a sack
• Also credited with half a sack against USC. Recorded half a TFL versus Southern Utah
• Finished with at least three tackles in 10 of his 12 games
• Tallied seven tackles at Colorado in the overtime win, and six versus Southern Utah in the Reser Stadium opener
He did have some impressive games. See this position has the potential to be one of the deepest on the 2019 roster. Next up: Defensive Line