That’s the big question surrounded Oregon State football this season, or at least it is for fans. Coming off a 2-10 season, including going winless in Pac-12 play, it’s painfully clear that the program is in rebuild mode. However, that doesn’t stop the orange-colored glasses from coming on for some fans.
After all, there’s really nowhere to go but up after last year, right? Well, maybe not. The Beavers still have a lot of room for improvement and to grow. So, what should we expect in 2016?
If we want to go by the numbers, we could look at Gary Andersen’s Year 2 records as a head coach. In 2010, his second season at Utah State, the Aggies finished 4-8, the same record as his first year, and they actually lost one more conference game. In 2014, his second season at Wisconsin, the Badgers finished 10-3, a one-game improvement from his first year.
It’s not exactly opposite ends of the spectrum, but there’s also not a strong correlation. Also, Andersen was in vastly different situations, having to build a program at USU, while taking over a traditional powerhouse at UW. So, it’s hard to say what Year 2 under Andersen at OSU holds, if we try to use some numbers, albeit basic ones.
How about orange-colored glasses expectations for this season? Another year in the system should benefit the players and coaches. Darell Garretson has to be an improvement from last season’s QB play, right? An influx of both JUCO talent and highly regarded prep players will provide a boost to the defense. Oh, and Seth Collins is back to provide the dynamic playmaker the Beavers have lacked since Brandin Cooks.
That sounds great, but how will Garretson adjust to a higher-level of competition? Beaver Nation knows all too well about the hit-and-miss nature of JUCO players. And it’s a lot to ask most incoming freshmen, no matter how elite they were in high school, to be ready for D1 football, especially in the Pac-12. As for Collins, what happens if he doesn’t start? How will he handle it? Can he do all the little things, such as blocking?
I guess you could say the above would be the Debbie downer take on this season, especially if you add concerns about the offensive line. If players don’t stay healthy, this already super thin position group gets more worrisome.
And finally, there are the realistic expectations for this season. It’s going to be another tough year, but the Beavers should at least be more competitive in games and have better direction on offense, taking pressure off the defense. However, that progress won’t be evident from the win column necessarily.
In fact, it’s entirely plausible that the Beavers could be much improved but still finish with less wins than last season. That’s life during a rebuild in a tough conference. But as long as there are clear signs of improvement and growth that’s what matters.
What do you expect in 2016? Join the discussion now in The Lodge.
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