could change this year.
USC's probation and
fourth-down conversions decided last year's Civil War.
It was the first time in the 113-year history of the game that the winner
would go to the Rose Bowl.
in a game like that, one play can make a difference.
If Coach Mike Riley can find that difference in the off-season, OSU is in
position to go to
Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz and James) are the best two-man wrecking crew in the
country. They will attack by land,
air, and water too (when it rains as it often does in
Look for offensive
coordinator Danny Langsdorf to involve more
personnel in the passing game by getting the ball to the backs and the tight
ends. Everyone knows about the
Rodgers brothers—Langsdorf's job is to introduce them to the rest of the
Beaver skill players that are eager to show what they can do.
quarterback Ryan Katz (6-1, 209) can do more for the Beaver offense this fall by
giving the ball to someone else and letting them run with it.
is fortunate to have quality veteran backups for Katz.
Peter Lalich (6-4, 222, Jr.) saw playing time at
Heisman Trophy and All-America candidate Jacquizz Rodgers (5-7, 188) ran for 1,440 yards on 273 carries (5.27 avg.) and was second on the team with 78 catches for 522 yards. He accounted for 23 touchdowns, including a TD pass from the Wildcat formation. "Quizz" is on target to finish as the Pac-10's second top rusher of all-time to USC's Charles White.
is a thrill to watch with great change of direction and is sensational in the
open field. Rodgers is not only
electrifying but he can be a straight-ahead runner willing to take it to the
defense as well. Make no mistake: he
is shifty but also has power and is always churning forward for more yards after
first contact. Look for Riley to get
him the ball more in the Wildcat to press the advantage with his athleticism and
ability to throw the ball as well.
Jovan Stevenson is chomping at the bit as well. The
5-11, 183-pound sophomore did well in his first year between the lines, gaining
138 yards on 26 carries and coming down with five receptions for 59 yards.
Stevenson is speedy and quick and has proved to be exciting in his own
Ryan McCants (6-1, 228, Jr.) gives the Beavers a physical back in short-yardage situations. McCants was bothered by an injury that kept him out of all but four games last season.
James Rodgers (5-7, 185,
Sr.) was one of the top receivers in the country with 91 catches for 1,034 yards
and nine scores. He also carried the
ball 58 times for 303 yards and another TD on fly sweeps from his flanker
position. James has a quick burst of
speed and often makes defenders look silly with his moves.
Darrell Catchings (5-11,
164, Jr.) is a name to remember. He
had high hopes in 2009 after a promising spring but an ankle injury ended all
that. He is the possession receiver
the team needs and his health is a key to the Beavers' season because it takes
some of the pressure and attention off of Rodgers.
H-back Joe Halahuni (6-2,
252) was a pleasant surprise to Beaver fans last year and his is a star on the
rise. The junior was fourth with 35
catches for 486 yards and three scores. Halahuni
creates matchup problems in opposing secondaries; after the catch he is more
like a fullback than a receiver. He
has great athletic ability and should see plenty more opportunities this fall.
Markus Wheaton (6-0, 178,
So.) is another weapon.
Sophomore Jordan Bishop (6-3, 199) gives Katz a sizable target in his arsenal. Bishop positions his body well and can catch anything near him. Bishop recorded 13 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown in his first year.
Tight end Brady Camp (6-4, 265, Sr.) knows the OSU system and what it takes to win. Camp is a solid blocker in the crunch and has the ability to get open in short-yardage situations.
If you have a raw quarterback with only 27 career attempts, it is important to surround him with experience. Senior Aaron Nichols (6-0, 185) gives Katz yet another senior to work with. Nichols runs precise routes, a must for breaking in a new starting quarterback. Last season, Nichols had 11 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown, numbers that should go up this fall.
returning starters are back on the offensive line for
Michael Philipp (6-3, 307, So.) is already seasoned with 13 starts at left tackle as a
freshman. It isn't really all that
often when a team's top recruit pans out to be every bit as good as
advertised. That happened here.
Philipp has the ability to dominate his man and drive him downfield.
The Beaver star was recognized as a Freshman All-American last season.
Alex Linnenkohl is not only
one of the Pac-10's best centers but a good bet to play at the next level.
Linnenkohl (6-2, 303, Sr.) is vicious off the snap and quick with
technique. Linnenkohl is a fiery
leader as well, helping to make everyone around him better.
Grant Johnson had to
undergo shoulder surgery in the off-season but the Beavers are hopeful he can
pick up at left guard where he left off. Johnson
too is a former walk-on who made the transition to starter.
Johnson (6-3, 280, Jr.) is quick and exhibits good footwork to get the
starter is projected to be Burke Ellis. Ellis
(6-4, 280, Jr.) earned his first letter last year as a sophomore.
Still trying to earn a scholarship, he is gung-ho this fall after adding
considerable weight over the last three years to ready himself for action.
Senior Ryan Pohl (6-3, 284)
is ready to step in if Johnson takes longer to recuperate.
Pohl has the experience in the offense and in the system to be fine.
Colin Kelly, a 6-4,
285-pound sophomore, is making the move to right guard from tackle.
Kelly has toned his body in the weight room while still being able to
move well. Kelly's forte is
pass-blocking, but he'll be challenged by bull rushers up the middle.
Wilder McAndrews (6-4, 282, Sr.) has been beset by injuries throughout his time in
Meanwhile, the Beaver
defense needs to be more creative, as in creating more turnovers.
They totaled just 16 last season. Think
how much better the team would have been if not for this one statistic.
Defensive coordinator Mark Banker did a nice job in bringing in eight new
starters last year—the Beavers just need to kick it up a notch.
The run defense was stout
in 2009, especially in the interior.
Take a 6-1, 311-pound guy with brute strength and combine that with a former rugby player. You get the Pac-10's premier defensive lineman, senior Stephen Paea. He may be that, but he can't improve the Beavers' sack total, takeaways, or pass defense by himself. He needs more help, specifically on the front seven. The
6-1 frame and strength, Paea will get up underneath the opposing guard and
overwhelm him. Plus, he can chase
down backs from behind. He had 43
tackles, 8.5 for loss, with three sacks and four forced fumbles last year,
numbers he achieved even though opposing teams did their best to run away from
Brennan Olander (6-1, 276, Sr.) is yet another walk-on who has made good in Coach
Riley's system. Whereas Paea will
overpower you, Olander gets in the backfield thanks to his quickness and good
hand technique. Olander recorded
eight tackles behind the line a year ago.
Gabe Miller and Taylor Henry will be the Beaver ends.
Miller (6-3, 249, Sr.) is a converted tight end who has added weight and
improved his pass rushing. Miller is
the fastest man on the team in the 10-yard sprint.
He posted 23 tackles, five for loss, with three sacks last year.
Henry (6-1, 240, So.) advertised his talent in the spring game with four
sacks. Henry is fast and with his
weight room work has added strength this season.
position is one of concern. The
Beavers ranked 25th nationally against the run largely because of the
tackles but often pressure didn't arrive from the outside or if it did, it
came too late.
Kevin Frahm (6-2, 267) moved to tackle where he can use his strength and heavy
hands to his benefit. Frahm started
eight games last year and had 19 tackles, 2.5 for loss, with 1.5 sacks.
The OSU coaches are looking to Andrew Seumalo (6-3, 262) to step in this
fall and provide good depth as a sophomore.
He is the son of Beaver defensive line coach Joe Seumalo.
counterpart on the other side may not be known until the last few weeks before
the opener with TCU. Sophomore Devin Unga (6-1, 219) is one of the leading candidates.
He played well on special teams last year.
Senior Keith Pankey (6-0, 231) was the strongside starter before a most
unfortunate Achilles' tendon tear in the spring.
The Beavers need his experience.
Tony Wilson is ready after being on the sideline all of last year with an
Rueben Robinson (6-1, 222) played as a true freshman and could take one of the
spots mentioned above. Robinson will
hit you hard and is one of the best Beaver linebackers in pass coverage.
Kevin Unga, Devin's twin brother, is another physical player who
recorded 18 tackles as a true freshman. Kevin
is tough, has a great motor, and had many a successful weight room workout to
tone his 6-1, 236-pound body into a machine.
Unga is a star of the future.
for Michael Doctor. Rivals.com
ranked him as the 21st-best outside linebacker in the country.
He had an impressive spring and hopes to make his mark this fall.
secondary is physical and intimidating. Lance Mitchell (6-2, 207, Jr.) led the Beaver "D" with 72 tackles and three
interceptions last season. Mitchell
has speed, size, good hands and surefire tackling ability that serve him well at
safety. Cornerback James Dockery
(6-1, 176, Sr.) is another all-star candidate.
Out all of last season due to knee surgery, Dockery recorded 38 tackles,
2.5 for loss, two interceptions and a team-leading eight pass breakups in 2008.
Dockery possesses the instincts that you can't teach.
Brandon Hardin is the other corner. Hardin is blessed in having the speed and soft hips needed to play cornerback with 6-2, 219-pound size. He started three games last year and Beaver fans are anxious to see what he can do with a full-time job.
Junior Cameron Collins
teamed with Mitchell to make quite a duo at safety.
Collins (6-2, 230) made 70 tackles and had four pass breakups.
His style of play is similar to Boise State's Jeron Johnson, roaming
the field looking for someone to pop.
Suaesi Tuimaunei (6-1, 205,
Sr.) lost his starting job to Collins last year and is back to have a say.
Tuimaunei plays with reckless abandon and is another member of the Beaver
secondary hit squad. Tuimaunei
proved to be an invaluable asset on special teams, earning All-Pac-10 honors
Jordan Poyer (5-11, 189, So.) provides backup at corner. He had 11 tackles as a freshman. Poyer is a converted safety, very athletic and versatile.
Senior Justin Kahut will give Oregon State stability and experience as the returning placekicker. Kahut was 22-27 on field goals last year and was recognized as second-team All-Pac-10. Kahut (5-8, 176) has a strong leg that allows him to be accurate beyond 40 yards.
Junior punter Johnny Hekker (6-5, 223) is back as well. Hekker beat his career best with a 40.1 average last year with 19 kicks landing inside the 20. Defenses should be aware that Hekker, a high school quarterback, will hold for Kahut on extra points and field goals.
James Rodgers will once again handle punts and kickoffs. His presence alone affects what the opposition does, since he is a threat to take it all the way at any given time. Rodgers averaged 23.3 yards on kickoff returns and 11.6 yards on punts.
Kudos to any team that schedules two Top 10 teams in non-conference games. The Beavers also have invited Louisville to Corvallis. In the Pac-10, Oregon State gets Oregon, Arizona State, Cal, USC and Washington State at home. OSU must protect its home field if it is to win the conference. They must win all or at least all but one of those. Road dates at Arizona, Washington, UCLA and Stanford are all going to be challenging as well. In fact, given USC's probation, Oregon's off-the-field problems and the disappointing announcements from Corvallis this off-season, the door is wide open in the conference. Stanford and Washington are both teams that could sneak in and win the title. Coach Riley's squad must win at least three of those conference road games to bring home the trophy.
Sept. 4 TCU (in
Sept. 11 OPEN DATE
Sept. 18 Louisville
Sept. 25 at Boise St
Oct. 2 Arizona State
Oct. 9 at Arizona
Oct. 16 at Washington
Oct. 23 OPEN DATE
Oct. 30 California
Nov. 6 at UCLA
Nov. 13 Washington St
Nov. 20 USC
Nov. 27 at Stanford
Dec. 4 Oregon