2004 Beaver Football Season Preview

<b>Head Coach:</b> <A HREF==[PlayerNode:631446]>Mike Riley</A> (4th year, 16-19 overall)<br><br><b>Last Season's Record:</b> 8-5 (4-4, 5th in Pac-10)<br><br><b>Last Bowl Appearance:</b> 2004 Las Vegas Bowl (55-14 win over <A HREF=http://newmexico.TheInsiders.com>New Mexico</A>)<br><br><b>Key matchup(s):</b> Sept. 4 at <A HREF=http://louisianastate.TheInsiders.com>LSU</A> (ESPN), Oct. 2 <A HREF=http://california.TheInsiders.com>Cal</A>, Nov. 5 USC, Nov. 20 Oregon (Fox).

Star Power: QB Derek Anderson 6-6 240 senior, C Matt Brock 6-2 298 senior, CB Brandon Browner 6-4 202 sophomore, DE Bill Swancutt 6-4 259 senior, SS Mitch Meeuwsen 6-0 215 senior, LB Trent Bray 6-1 234 junior.

Notable Additions: P Sam Paulescu 6-0 185 JC transfer, TE Jim Hanchett 6-6 248 OSU basketball player, WR Brandon Hughes 5-11 164 Bloomington HS, IL, LB Keith Ellison 6-2 224 JC transfer, OT Chris Miller 6-5 299 JC transfer.

Notable Subtractions: RB Steven Jackson, WR James Newson, TE Tim Euhus, LB Richard Seigler, DT Dwan Edwards, PK Kirk Yliniemi, P Carl Tobey.

Notable Returnees: WR Mike Hass 6-1 210 junior, RB Dwight Wright 5-9 208 senior, OT Doug Nienhuis 6-6 321 senior, LB Jonathan Pollard 6-1 243 senior, DT Ben Siegert 6-4 271 sophomore, CB Aric Williams 6-0 172 senior.

09/04/04@Louisiana State
09/11/04@Boise State
09/18/04New Mexico
09/25/04@Arizona State
10/23/04Washington State
11/06/04Southern California
Offensive Overview: Losing a handful of the program's finest offensive players to graduation should have most Beaver fans worried, but with the steadily improving Derek Anderson at the helm Oregon State fans are cautiously optimistic about 2004. The Beavers will use a more controlled playbook in the early part of 2004 to give Anderson confidence and to find out who will compliment Mike Hass catching the ball. The tight ends and running backs could see many short passes across the middle and in the backfield, and 6-foot-7, 260-pound sophomore TE Joe Newton presents a large target with reliable hands and impressive athleticism.

The Beavers lack a player who can stretch the field and are trying almost anyone in the slot. Dwight Wright and Ryan Cole will share running back duties and will provide the defense with different looks. The offensive line has loads of experience and talent but has not jelled as a unit. The offensive line's play will dictate whether the Beavers have a pass-heavy offense or a balanced offense.

Defensive Overview: One of the top defenses in the Pac-10 returns four all-conference players in cornerback Brandon Browner, defensive end Bill Swancutt, strong safety Mitch Meeuwsen and linebacker Trent Bray. The Beavers mostly play man coverage at the corners as Browner and Aric Williams have proven they can stay with most receivers. The linebackers are mouthy, confident, athletic, and can deliver the big hits. Bray roams the middle where he seems to be in on almost every play. Swancutt will face double and triple teams until one of the other defensive linemen can step up. Alvin Smith and Henry Anderson both take up a lot of space, but are not game proven, and Ben Siegert returns after a solid freshman season at DT. Brandon Scales is quick and could be an excellent compliment to Swancutt.

Special Teams Overview: Replacing the starting punter and kicker in the same year is a difficult task. Luckily the Beavers signed one of the best junior college kickers in the nation in Sam Paulescu. His leg strength and his ability to place the ball within the 20 consistently will add great value to the OSU special teams. Oregon State is still looking for a game breaker to return punts and kicks. Cole Clasen is sure-handed and fearless returning punts, but lacks game-breaking speed. Wright and Harvey Whiten are competent at returning kickoffs, but neither is often a threat to break a big one.

The Beavers will be stay in the top 25 if... a game-breaking wide receiver in the mold of Chad Johnson emerges. A speedy receiver opens the running and receiving game and gives the team and quarterback confidence.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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