Pac 12

2010 NCAA Football Preview: Oregon State Beavers

| by

Between now and the September 2nd season kick-off, Danny Hobrock will be previewing all the major college football teams with new teams being released daily.

2009 Season Breakdown

2009 final record (overall, conference): 8-5, 6-3
Bowl Game: Las Vegas Bowl (L 44-20 vs. BYU)
Final Ranking (AP, Coaches'): NR, NR
Conference finish: T-2nd Pac-10
Offensive rank: 34
Defensive rank: 46

2009 Individual Statistical Leaders

Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers, 1,440 yards, 21 TD
Passing: Sean Canfield, 3,271 yards, 21 TD
Receiving: James Rodgers, 1,034 yards, 9 TD; Damola Adeniji, 807 yards, 5 TD
Tackles: Keaton Kristick, 95 total tackles
Sacks: Stephen Paea and Gabe Miller, 3 sacks (3 solo)
Interceptions: Lance Mitchell, 3 interceptions

2010 Season Outlook

(* denotes conference game)

Key Matchups

September 4 vs. TCU: While this is a neutral location matchup, it does take place in Arlington—about a half an hour from the TCU campus in Fort Worth. This will be a nice road test for an offense returning its two biggest playmakers and sending a promising young quarterback under center. TCU finished first in total defense last season, but must replace five starters. This will also be an enormous test for the Oregon State defense taking on the Horned Frogs offense that lost just two starters.

September 25 @ Boise State: The Beavers could take on two top ten, or top five for that matter, teams in their first three games of the season in TCU and Boise State. Entering conference play the following week, we'll know a lot about Oregon State on both sides of the ball after watching these two matchups.

November 20 vs. USC: The Trojans are a key matchup for just about any Pac-10 team. Not only are they expected to contend for the conference title, but the confidence boost that beating last decade's most celebrated team can bring to a program is enormous. Wouldn't that be nice with matchups against Stanford and Oregon remaining on the schedule?

December 4 vs. Oregon: Potentially one of the top five rivalries in all of college football, the Civil War was first played in 1894 and has been played every year since except for five years, and was played twice in the same year on two occasions. Oregon leads the all-time series 57-46-10 and has won the last two contests. Last year's 37-33 win decided the Pac-10 with both the Beavers and Ducks vying for a spot in the Rose Bowl.

Preseason Rankings (will not officially be released until August)


Coaches': N/A

Key Losses

Sean Canfield, QB; Matt LaGrone, DE; Keaton Kristick, LB; David Pa'aluhi, LB

Key Returning Players

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB; James Rodgers, WR; Alex Linnenkohl, C; Stephen Paea, DE; Gabe Miller, DE; Dwight Roberson, LB; James Dockery, CB

Offensive Overview

The Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, will once again be the playmakers of the Beavers offense. Jacquizz rushed for over 1,400 yards and scored 21 touchdowns on the ground, adding another 522 yards and a touchdown as a receiver. James went for over 1,000 yards as a receiver, scoring nine touchdowns, and added 303 yards and a touchdown in the running game. Both Rodgers brothers will be used in similarly versatile roles in 2010.

New quarterback Ryan Katz will have more options than the Rodgers brothers when he takes the field, however. Joe Halahuni, a tight end/H-back type player, finished with 486 yards and three touchdowns this season, while Markus Wheaton, Darrell Catchings and Jordan Bishop will also be available in the passing game. Speaking of Katz, he was very impressive throughout the spring, looking like the answer for years to come with Sean Canfield now plying his trade with the New Orleans Saints.

Michael Philipp was the starter at left tackle in all 13 games as a true freshman last season. He missed spring practice with a knee injury, but is expected to pick up where he left off this fall. Wilder McAndrews has battled injuries throughout his career, but looked good this spring. He may not start, but he'll add depth behind Philipp and Mike Remmers. Grant Johnson missed spring practice as well, but should be ready to go at left guard. Alex Linnenkohl returns at the center position and is a part of the Rimington Trophy Watch List. The Beavers let up an average of 2.23 sacks per game and, with four starters returning, must see improvement to ease the transition for Katz under center.

Defensive Overview

Beavers fans got some good news when coach Mike Riley tweeted, "We were excited to see Linebacker Keith Pankey running for the first time in his recovery today, he's doing a great job!" Pankey went down in February with a ruptured Achilles tendon and was feared lost for the season. Pankey, a senior, should start opposite Dwight Roberson at outside linebacker if he's good to go by the season opener, provided he gets his reps in fall practice. Stephen Pa'aluhi left the team in February for personal reasons, leaving a hole at middle linebacker with the battle between Rueben Robinson and Walker Vave still ongoing heading into the fall.

Defensive tackle Scott Paea is an All-America candidate, but the rest of the defensive line needs to step up if this defense hopes to see improvement over last year's performance. Brennan Olander started nine games last year and will start alongside Paea on the inside once again. Gabe Miller will resume his starting position at defensive end with Taylor Henry very impressive thus far in his quest to replace Matt LaGrone, who, like Pa'aluhi, left the team for personal reasons. The Beavers ranked 105th in sacks last season, recording just 17 all year. Getting to the quarterback needs to be a focus of this unit to disrupt the passing game and do their part to force more than the eight interceptions they recorded last season.

The secondary is expected to see some improvement in last year's 84th ranked pass defense with three starters returning. After struggling last season, this could actually be the strength of this defense. James Dockery broke up eight passes in 2009 and will team with Brandon Hardin, who started three games last season recording 29 tackles and four pass breakups. Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins should be the starters at safety, but Suaesi Tuimaunei has seen extensive work as well and could battle Collins for time.

Special Teams Overview

Justin Kahut was 22 of 27 in field goals and 45 of his 47 extra points. His 81.5% in field goals was a nice improvement from his 66.7% as a sophomore. He posted a long of 50 last season, going 10 of 14 from beyond 40 yards, and was an all-Pac-10 second teamer. Entering his senior season, Kahut has cemented himself as the team's place kicker. At punter, Johnny Hekker handled all 51 punts last season, averaging 40.1 yards per punt and putting 19 within the 20 yard line. James Rodgers handled punt and kick returns last season, averaging 11.6 yards per return as a punt returner and 23.3 yards per return as a kick returner.

Head Coach: Mike Riley

Mike Riley is seven years into his second go-around as head coach at Oregon State. In his first stint, he led the Beavers to 3-8 and 5-6 records in 1997 and 1998. While not impressive at first glance, consider that the 5-6 record in 1998 was their best since 1971 when they also went 5-6. From 1972 to 1987, the most wins recorded was three (1974, 78, 85, 86), and from 1988 to 1996, the Beavers recorded four wins four times (1988, 89, 93, 94). Riley laid a solid foundation that would eventually lead the Beavers to new heights following his departure to the NFL to take over as head coach of the San Diego Chargers and later as offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.

In his second stint as head coach, which he began in 2003, Riley finished with less than seven wins just once (2005) and has made the bowl season in six of his seven seasons with five bowl victories. Last season's 44-20 loss to BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl was Riley's first bowl loss as a head coach. The Beavers have not posted the highest ranked recruiting classes, but have had great success with several two and three star players such as C Alex Linnekohl (three-star in 2006), WR James Rodgers (two-star in 2007), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (three-star in 2008), DT Stephen Paea (three-star in 2008) and a couple of walk-ons in Burke Ellis and Mike Remmers, who are expected to start on the offensive line this season.

His spread offense has been a big hit at Oregon. In his first season as offensive coordinator, the Ducks finished 10th in the nation in total offense (12th ranked scoring offense) and followed that up with the 7th ranked total offense (7th in scoring offense) in 2008. Last season saw a dip to the 33rd ranked total offense, but Oregon still managed the 8th ranked scoring offense. He'll be challenged to improve in the passing game, but with two capable options competing in fall camp, things are looking pretty good. As far as the defense goes, it's too early to tell the caliber of defense a Chip Kelly-led team will field, but last year's squad was vastly underrated.

Top 2011 Draft Prospects

James Rodgers, WR; Stephen Paea, DT; James Dockery, CB

Season Prediction

3rd Pac-10

As with just about every Pac-10 team that I project to finish somewhere between two and seven, I feel compelled to mention that this could obviously be higher. The trouble is that just about every team in the conference has its eyes, realistically, on the Rose Bowl. Oregon State returns their two top playmakers, as well as several other options on the offensive side of the ball, and eagerly awaits the debut of Ryan Katz, expected by many to lead the Beavers for the next several years. Four of five starters on the offensive line are back with Michael Philipp possibly emerging as one of the nation's top offensive linemen sometime in the next couple of years.

Defensively, five starters need to be replaced, but with an All-American candidate returning at defensive tackle in Stephen Paea, improvement expected in the pass rush, linebacker Keith Pankey expected back for the start of the season, formidable replacements for two players who left the team for personal reasons, and a secondary returning three starters and counted on to be much better, there's a lot to feel good about in Corvallis. Oregon State, while they exceed expectations just about every season, has not finished atop the Pac-10 since 2000. The Beavers are in good shape to change that entering this season. - Danny Hobrock

Danny is a sports journalist primarily covering college football and professional baseball. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. Danny is the former editor of a political and current events website and the editor of our college football content.