CFN 2008 Oregon State Preview

FORGOTTEN ABOUT in the back of the Pac 10, Oregon State has been tremendously successful over the last two seasons. Now, College Football News says some rebuilding needs to be done. But WR James Rogers, along with the return of Sammie Stoughter, should improve the passing game. Does OSU need pleasant surprises just about everywhere on the depth chart to continue on a roll? CFN weighs in.

Oregon State Beavers

Preview 2008

- 2008 Oregon State Preview | 2008 OSU Offense - 2008 OSU Defense | 2008 OSU Depth Chart
2007 CFN Oregon State Preview | 2006 CFN Oregon State Preview 

Head coach: Mike Riley
7th year: 38-34
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 28, Def. 31, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 13
Ten Best Beaver Players1. WR Sammie Stroughter, Sr.
2. LT Andy Levitre, Sr.
3. DE Victor Butler, Sr.
4. CB Brandon Hughes, Sr.
5. SS Al Afalava, Sr.
6. WR James Rodgers, Soph.
7. LG Jeremy Perry, Sr.
8. DE Slade Norris, Sr.
9. RB Ryan McCants, RFr.
10. WR Darrell Catchings, Soph.

2008 ScheduleCFN Prediction: COMING
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 28 at Stanford
Sept. 6 at Penn State
Sept. 13 Hawaii
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 25 USC
Oct. 2 at Utah
Oct. 11 Washington State
Oct. 18 at Washington
Nov. 1 Arizona State
Nov. 8 at UCLA
Nov. 15 California
Nov. 22 at Arizona
Nov. 29 Oregon

2007 ScheduleCFN Prediction: 7-5
2007 Record: 9-4

Aug. 30 Utah W 24-7Sept. 6 at Cincinnati L 34-3Sept. 15 Idaho State W 61-10Sept. 22 at Arizona St L 44-32
Sept. 29
UCLA L 40-14Oct. 6 Arizona W 31-16Oct. 13 at California W 31-28
Oct. 27
Stanford W 23-6Nov. 3 at USC L 24-3
Nov. 10
Washington W 29-23Nov. 17 at Wash St W 52-17
Dec. 1 at Oregon W 38-31 OT
Emerald Bowl
Dec. 28 Maryland W 21-14

The Beavers were clearly built for last year.  Now what?

Mike Riley has quietly had a steady run in his second stint in Corvallis, but the coach and his kids are staring at a rebuilding season after losing top rusher Yvenson Bernard and each member of the front seven of a terrific defense. While that doesn't mean the Beavers are automatically going to go in the tank, in an improved Pac 10, and step back could appear to be major.

Although Oregon State has confounded experts more than once this decade, it'll need pleasant surprises just about everywhere on the depth chart, and far more consistency from the quarterback position, in order to approach last year's nine-win season. It's a good thing for Riley and the school that Beaver fans are patient, understanding that just a little over a decade ago, this was one of the most inept programs in the country. However, on the flip side, this has been an underappreciated program with 19 wins over the last two seasons, and now the hope is to be able to quickly reload.

While almost everyone will put OSU in the bottom half of the preseason Pac 10 picks, there's a good base to build around and good potential to get back to a bowl game. But it's going to take everything Riley has in the bag to make it happen with few certainties on either side of the ball. Even the kicking game is no longer a sure thing on a roster that's blanketed by uncertainty and inexperience. 

With trips to Penn State and Utah to go along with a rough Pac-10 schedule, the Beavers could hover around the .500 mark for the first time in three years, but they're used to being disrespected and have often thrived in the underdog role. They'll have to do it again.

What to watch for on offense: Sammie Stroughter. The wide receiver and punt returner extraordinaire is returning from a tumultuous year marked by personal tragedy and a season-ending kidney injury. He's back with the same energy and infectious smile that permeated throughout the program before last season, which is great news for a Beaver offense searching for new playmakers and greater consistency in the passing game. Whether it's Sean Canfield or Lyle Moevao, the starting quarterback will benefit greatly from having No. 19, one of the Pac 10's premier playmakers, to work with.     

What to watch for on defense: The emergence of new stars on the front seven. Sure, Oregon State was gutted by graduation, but that only means that a new wave of smart, speedy defenders is set wash over the rest of the Pac-10. Players, such as DE Victor Butler and LBs Keaton Kristick and Bryant Cornell, are upperclassmen pining for an opportunity to step out of ex-Beavers' shadows. They'll all excel this season as key cogs in a Mark Banker-coached defense that perennially plays well beyond its perceived talent level.

The team will be far better if… the quarterbacks begin turning the corner. Canfield and Moevao were a collective mess, which can't continue if the offense is going to improve on last season's No. 8 finish in the Pac-10. With the defense and the running game undergoing significant changes, it's up to the two quarterbacks to cut down on their interceptions, while distributing the ball to the two primary playmakers, Stroughter and James Rodgers.      

The Schedule: Fine, so Hawaii isn't the Hawaii of last year, but Oregon Sate can't be accused of taking it easy playing the defending WAC champions along with road trips to Penn State and Utah. If those weren't interesting enough, the season starts with a Pac 10 road trip to Stanford while the late September home game against USC comes after a week off. Things ease up the rest of the way with Arizona State, California and Oregon all coming to Corvallis, while there aren't back-to-back road games after the opening two weeks. Going to UCLA isn't going to be easy, especially after facing the Sun Devils, but there has to be at least one killer league away date.

Best offensive player: Senior WR Sammie Stroughter. A dual-threat who'll beat the other team as a receiver or punt returner, Stroughter is back after missing most of last season with a kidney injury. More than just a talented playmaker, he's the type of polished receiver who runs tight routes, picks up yards after the catch, and generally makes the quarterback more effective.          

Best defensive player: Senior CB Brandon Hughes. Hughes came into his own as a junior, parlaying 57 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and a dozen pass breakups into a spot on the All-Pac-10 Second Team. An aggressive defender, he's as good defending the run and jamming the receiver at the line as he is playing in pass coverage.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshman RB Ryan McCants. Unless the quarterbacks suddenly experience an unlikely epiphany, Oregon State will continue relying on the running game. The heir apparent to Yvenson Bernard is McCants, a burly 236-pounder with the toughness to pound between the tackles and the light feet to dance outside of them. Considering the uncertainty in the 87th-ranked passing game, the Beavers need McCants to be the next in a long line of talented runners.            

The season will be a success if ... Oregon State bowls for the eighth time in the past decade.  With the season being billed as a rebuilding year, an additional game would be a nice accomplishment for Mike Riley and exactly what the younger players need as a stepping stone for 2009. Despite the massive turnover from a year ago, don't forget that 16 starters coming out of spring were juniors or seniors. The Beavers may be undergoing a makeover, but they're certainly not without a bunch of familiar faces.          

Key game: Nov. 29 vs. Oregon. Besides being the Civil War, which is always the biggest clash on both team's schedules, this could be a do-or-die game for the Beavers' bowl hopes. They're likely to straddle the .500 mark all season, making the visit from the Ducks even more poignant than usual. Oregon State has owned Oregon in Corvallis lately, winning the last five, a trend that could produce a ton of school pride and 15 more practices in December.        

2007 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Oregon State 134 – Opponents 30
- Average net yards per punt: Opponents 36.2 – Oregon State 31.7
- Kickoff return average: Oregon State 21 yards – Opponents 17.9 yards

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