Fall Camp: Quarterbacks

Unless you have been living under a rock during the past couple of college football seasons in Corvallis; you know about the ups and downs of Derek Anderson. The Oregon native has struggled often, but has also had some monster games.

People point to his touchdown to interception ratio (1:1 in 2003, 50-40 touchdowns to interceptions for his career) and his low completion percentage (51% in ‘03, and 47% in ‘02) as his major downfalls.  But to focus on those two statistical categories without looking at the nature of the Beaver offense is not fair to Anderson.

Anderson is often called upon to go deep and as a result his interception total is going to be high.  The Beavers had an aggressive offense in 2003 as they had 50 plays that went for 25 yards or more.  Anderson was involved in 38 of the big plays. 

The Scappoose kid is very confident in his arm and feels that he can put the ball anywhere, anytime.  The coaches are also confident in Anderson's arm and as a result open up the playbook more.

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Anderson will look to improve on his 50-40 ratio in 2004.

With that said, Anderson is prone to throwing picks at the wrong time.  A perfect example is the USC game when the OSU defense kept getting the ball back only to march on the field a few minutes later after the Men of Troy grasped another poorly thrown ball. 

Despite his second five pick game of the season, Anderson grew mentally against USC.  You could see it in his body language – he did not hang his head or pout.  He picked himself off the ground and battled with one of the top defenses in the nation series after series.

The result of his determination against USC manifested itself on Christmas Eve when he dismantled an adequate Lobo defense.  He stayed calm in the pocket, scanned through his progressions, and got rid of the ball in the right situation.  This is the quarterback we will see in '04.  For the first time in his career he has all the tools to succeed.  He has the experience, he has the physical tools, and he does not have to learn a new playbook.  He just has to go out there and play some football.

Teams will once again force Anderson to make plays and without a proven game breaking receiver, OSU could struggle early.  To counter the pressure forced on Anderson the coaching staff will compress the playbook and look to get the ball out of Anderson's hands early.  Passes to the running back and tight ends will be one of the primary means of moving the ball downfield.  Short curls and slants will also be used often by the receivers.

For the casual fan, the Beaver offense will be boring compared to high-flying teams of the past few seasons.  But to the diehard fan a methodical, efficient offense is a beautiful machine.  In time the Beavers will open the playbook up, but only if a compliment to Mike Hass emerges.

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Rothenfluh's experience on the sidelines is important.

Adam Rothenfluh and redshirt freshman Ryan Gunderson will battle for the second string spot during fall camp.  Rothenfluh will only see game time during blowouts, but his experience on the sideline is invaluable.  He has been in the Oregon State system for four years and knows the ins and outs of the offense.  Rothenfluh is essentially another coach on the sidelines and could possibly be a graduate assistant at the conclusion of his football playing career.

Gunderson is by far the more physically talented of the two players but will only play significantly if Anderson gets seriously injured.  Riley would like to avoid the baptism by fire that Anderson had to go through in 2002.

A few snaps here and there in already decided contests is the way the coaching staff would like to introduce Gunderson to Pac-10 play.  The extra practice time due to the Las Vegas Bowl was invaluable for Gunderson's development and a return trip to the postseason would benefit the redshirt freshman even more.  The Central Catholic star is the future of OSU and will give the Beavers a mobile, strong armed quarterback in 2005.

Several other players including Colt Charles, Paul Kirwan, and Brady Schalich are listed at the quarterback position, but will most likely never take a snap during a game

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