Grading it out

Through seven games in the 2007 season, the Oregon State Beavers are 4-3, 2-2 in the Pac-10. Things could be better, but they also could be much, much worse. Since it is the middle of the season and the Beavers had a bye this week, it is time to hand out some midterm grades.

Offense

Quarterbacks – D+
While Sean Canfield has showed quite a bit of improvement lately, overall he has been less than average. Only three players in the country (Adam Weber, Minnesota; Seth Adams, Ole Miss; Cody Hawkins, Colorado) have thrown more interceptions than Canfield who has thrown 13. Cut that number in half the Beavers might have two more wins and Canfield is probably at a ‘B.’

But, he is doing things quite a bit better now though. Against Cal the sophomore lefty was 18-of-33 for 186 yards and didn’t throw an interception – one of only two times this season has hasn’t thrown one, the other was against Idaho State.

Running Backs – A
I’m giving Yvenson Bernard and the rest of the backfield an ‘A’ because he/they have performed about as well as expected. Through seven games Bernard has 752 yards (tied with West Virginia’s Steve Slaton for 26th) and nine touchdowns (tied for 16th with a host of players), that is an average of more than 100 yards per game and more than one touchdown per game – plus, Bernard has caught 32 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown.

Other running backs on the team have four touchdowns – two for fullback Andy Stewart and one each for Clinton Polk and Patrick Fuller. Matt Sieverson has 20 carries for 61 yards and has down a solid job filling in when needed.

Wide Receivers – Incomplete
Coming into the season, before we knew any of the troubles that Sammie Stroughter was going to be going through, I thought this would be one of the most solid areas on the team. With veteran players like Stroughter, Anthony (Wheat-)Brown, and Brandon Powers coming back, I had high hopes for this group.

Unfortunately, Stroughter has had issues and as you know, he is officially out for the season. He played in three games, accumulating stats in only two – 15 catches, 262 yards and two touchdowns. With him out of the equation, I don’t feel right grading this group. I do think as a whole, the receivers have done well though.

Counting just wide receivers – the Beavers have four players with more than 100 yards through the air this season – that includes Stroughter, Brown (29-387, 1), true freshman Darrell Catchings (18-210, 1), and Powers (20-181). Also making a splash from the receiver position is another true freshman James Rodgers, six catches for 90 yards. Rodgers has made a bigger impact in the Beavers’ ground game with 13 carries for 204 yards.

Canfield needs to keep spreading the ball to all of his weapons on the outside, as well as the tight ends (I’ll get to them) and running backs.

Tight Ends – B
Considering the lack of experience coming into this season, the tight ends for OSU have made a pretty good showing this year. The trio of Howard Croom, Gabe Miller, and Brady Camp have combined for 20 catches for 215 yards and two touchdowns.

That doesn’t sound like that much for three players through seven games, but considering these guys do help out in the run game and simply the youth at the position, I think they’ve done very well and I would guess the Beavers will use them more in these next five games.

Offensive Line – A
Through seven games the OSU offensive line has allowed just eight sacks. In my book that is pretty darn good. Through Oct. 13 (according to cfbstats.com) the Beavers are tied for 28th in fewest sacks allowed – 15 team teams ranked ahead had played six games and one (Boise State) had played five by the time these stats were accumulated. The Beavers’ O-line has done a very good job protecting the quarterback and overall, they’ve done a nice job run blocking.

 

Defense - A
I can’t grade this group in separate parts, because on defense all parts revolve around all the other parts. A team can have great coverage, but if there is no pass rush, eventually the secondary will give up a big play. Conversely, if there is good pass rush, the secondary and linebackers are going to get opportunities to make plays against a quarterback who may have to rush some throws.

As a whole, I’m very pleased with the Beaver defense. They have been flying to the ball and the Beavers certainly have one of the top run defenses in the country.

The OSU offense (and special teams) has put the defense in some really bad situations and I feel they have done as well as can be expected. The Beavers are fourth in the nation with 27.5 sacks and second in sack yardage, 207.

The Beaver defense is the fifth rated run defense in the country, allowing just 445 yards on the ground. They also rank 8th in the country for tackles for loss with 58 for 292 yards, good for fourth in the country.

The Men in Black's problems have come primarily on big plays and after turnovers. The OSU defense has done its fair share of forcing turnovers as well. The Beavers have 10 interceptions (tied for 19th) while OSU opponents have fumbled 19 times (tied for 3rd), with the Beavers recovering just seven (tied for 27th).

One thing I really like about the OSU defense is all of the player shuffling and special packages that are used. OSU has 12 players with at least a share of a sack and 14 OSU players have a tackle for loss. The team's 10 interceptions are shared by seven players with two being returned for touchdowns.

To be more successful in the second half Oregon State needs to limit big plays by the opponent and continue to pressure the quarterback. The defense will also improve if the offense improves which gives the defense more rest making them more effective in the later quarters.

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Jake Schubert is a new/old contributor to BeaverFootball.com. He writes for the Newport News-Times in Newport, Oregon and can be reached at sports@newportnewstimes.com. Jake has been to every home football at OSU for eight consecutive years and he is looking to make it nine this year.


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