How much will Poyer be missed in 2013?

IT'S A SERIOUS question. Just how much will the Oregon State defense miss Jordan Poyer in 2103? On paper, it would seem like a lot. He was recently named All-America by the AFCA. National media has long touted his NFL prospects. Some have gone as far as to say he is one of the best corners in the NCAA.


It goes without saying that Jordan Poyer is a good, nay great, athlete.

But being a great athlete and being a great cornerback are two completely different things. There's also little question that Poyer can be a very good man-to-man corner. But I'm going to go against the prevailing wisdom here and say I'm not convinced that for Oregon State, he's irreplaceably great.

Poyer is not a traditional corner. From this chair, I still believe he would have been even better suited as a strong safety.

OSU this season has had him running man coverage most of the time – even when the remainder of the defensive backfield was in a zone. Ever notice that?

I would guess that about 70 percent of the time, Poyer is running man even when the rest of the secondary was dropping back into their three deep or cover-two formations.

Now, that's not on Poyer, it was the scheme. Coaches often like to try and take a receiver out of the game – if they can. But in this case it left huge sections of defensive zones highly susceptible to short dump-off plays and slant routes. This was in clear evidence during the Civil War – Poyer's side of the field was left open and it led to screens and drag routes to Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas dominating the left hand side of the Beaver secondary.

In the final analysis, Poyer has essentially operated as OSU's very own free radical for the last two seasons, and it has led to some easy yardage through the air for opposing offenses.

This season was a softer blow than the year before in terms of passing yards against, but it still saw opponents put up 2,504 air yards.

I understand that Poyer is one of the most versatile players on the OSU roster, but versatility comes at a price when one of your star defenders doesn't cover a portion of the field as opposed to a singular player.

On the one hand, you have Poyer with his seven picks, accompanied by 46 tackles and 14 pass deflections. On the other, you have junior Rashaad Reynolds with 70 tackles, three interceptions and 16 passes deflected. I say that's the right idea, with consistency being the key to victory.

Three of Poyer's interceptions came against Connor Halliday of WSU, who has thrown a total of 13 interceptions this season and has struggled with consistency like it was a bad cold. And while picks are flashy, they can be overshadowed in comparison to all those other yards allowed when the pick isn't made.

With Poyer likely headed to the NFL (the gurus around cyberspace are generally projecting him a second round draft pick) I feel like Rod Perry's influence in 2013 will be better felt with guys like Reynolds and Sean Martin. as well as a few other up and comers.

Next season, you won't see as many interceptions from the secondary. But what you will see, I believe, is more consistent tackling, less yards allowed, tighter zone coverage that seals the lid on opposing offenses and more punts from opponents. In other words, a return to the fundamentals that generate greater success in the secondary.

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