OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Overview: The Oregon State Beavers are looking to improve on a 3-9 season from 2011, in which the Beavs were one of the youngest squads in the nation, the freshmen and sophomores accounting for 74 starts. Overall the schedule was simply forgettable including one of the worst losses in school history to Div II opponent Sacramento State and then a terrible showing against Wisconsin on national tv. But three games showed that the Beavs could hope to compete and be explosive with their young talent as the season progressed. Those wins consisted of Arizona, Washington State and Washington, and the Beavers really controlled all three games from start to finish which has OSU fans buzzing about the possibilities in 2012.
The schedule in 2012 also sets up nicely for OSU to be competitive, with 7 of their 12 games at home, including an opportunity to make up for their opening game disaster last season when Nicholls State visits on Sept 1. The opportunity for redemption continues the next week as Wisconsin fulfills its home and home series and goes into Corvallis. The Beavers will also get another shot at BYU as they travel to Provo in week 6. The Pac-12 games will be against UCLA, Arizona, WSU, Utah, Washington, ASU, Stanford, Cal and Oregon. A nice side note to the season is that Mike Riley will be entering his 10 consecutive season as the Head Coach and is only 2 wins away from becoming the OSU all-time most winning-est coach.
The Good: The Beavers lost a couple of proven playmakers from last seasons team but they will be getting back more playmakers for the 2012 campaign. Sean Mannion at qb, Brandin Cooks at wr, Scott Crichton at DE and Dylan Wynn at the other DE highlight a nice returning sophomore class and there are plenty of other good players returning.
Pass Game: Markus Wheaton, Brandin Cooks and Sean Mannion will be in charge of reestablishing the 19th ranked passing attack from 2011, which is a good thing. Wheaton and Cooks on the outside are explosive and the Beavs will need to plug and play a couple other receivers to ignite the offense.
Edge Rush & Edge Coverage: The tandem of Wynn and Crichton earned freshman All American honors in 2011 and are set to hold the edge again in 2012. Crichton had 6 sacks and 14.5 tackles behind the line and forced 6 fumbles while Wynn recovered an OSU record 5 fumbles, so both are major playmakers. That doesn’t bode well for qbs in the Pac this year when they play the black and orange. With the pressure generated by Wynn and Crichton, the veteran duo of Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds should thrive in coverage. Poyer in particular is an impressive cover guy, totaling 12 breakups and 4 interceptions last season.
The Injury Bug: Really bit Oregon State last season, as projected starters missed 59 overall games. That’s not good news for a young team, but getting them back healthy the next season is! There will be a lot of hope with the return of some standouts this season.
The Bad: Oregon State is still full of offensive players who haven’t proven that they can have huge impacts throughout a season. The defense wasn’t bad, and in fact was the real strength of the team, but against the budding offenses in the Pac-12 this year, points are going to be at a premium on every possession. Let’s look at the issues that plague the OSU offense:
1) Mannion is coming off of a huge year throwing the ball (especially for a freshman), completing 64% of his passes for 3,328 yards and 16 tds. But he couldn’t avoid the big turnovers last season, throwing 18 interceptions along the way.
2) Freshman running back Malcolm Agnew started the season as the Beaver starter but only carried the ball 89 times for just over 400 yards. He was the Beavs’ leading rusher! That feeds into the fact that the Beavers got out-rushed by over 1,000 yards and only generated 55 first downs to their opponents 124 on the ground. That puts your defense in peril folks!
3) The receiving corps has a nice number when you consider that 10 different receivers caught a touchdown last season. However that number is quickly blemished by the fact that they only garnered 16 total tds and their leading receiver only had 1 of those, while no one player had more than 3! This group is full of #2 receivers, with no true #1 guy to blow the top off of the coverage. Defenses sacked Manion 27 times in 2011 and until a real threat to score is established, the defenses will bring the house all year.
4) Teams outscored OSU in all of the first 3 quarters last season and the Beavs only outscored their opponents by 3 full points in the 4th. Slow starts aren’t going to cut it this year.
Summary: The Beavers are in for a struggle again this season. They have some playmakers, but not enough to seriously compete in the North Division this season. Under Riley, the Beavers are notorious for starting slow and really turning it on late in the year, but the daunting trio of Stanford, Cal and Oregon to end 2012 may put the coach in a straight jacket if they haven’t already won 5 games. Oregon State has been known to be patient, but I think it’s running thin in Corvallis, especially with another Stadium upgrade in the works. The Beaver administration does not want to continue as cellar contenders much longer. Unfortunately for Coach Riley, I’m not sure anyone could tell you where those wins are going to come from. I can count one against Nicholls and the Pac-12 schedule is really not stacked until the end, but even the trio of wins last season aren’t going to roll over or play nice this season. Arizona and WSU are coming in with new coaches and will have a ton of renewed energy and aggression towards the Beavers (not to mention the offenses for both those teams should be humming by the time they play OSU), while the Huskies will be tough to beat at C-Link as they use the home of the Seahawks. However I will give Mannion & Co. a slight chance in that game because the Beavers had such great success beating WSU there last season. In short, I know it doesn’t look all that bad if you compile the returning talent with a decent schedule, but I really think it could be a very long season in Corvallis. 3-9 is about where I think they end up again.
Make sure to join us next week as we head to the land of the Utes for a look at Utah. And stay tuned throughout the week for even more Cougar football news here on allcougdup.com