Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State Beavers
Gary Anderson certainly has his hands full as he tries to rebuild Oregon State football back to respectability after former head coach Mike Riley seemingly ran the talent pool into the ground as he walked out the door for the Nebraska job. Anderson has been plodding along, and is going slowly and methodically in his rebuild, which is probably the right way to go. It would seem at this point that if the administration and the fan base stays patient, this will all pay off in time. However, the rebuild continues.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
ANderson had the run game elevated in the offense last season, and it fared very well once it got to full speed. The Beavers averaged just over 191 yards rushing per game as a team last fall, and they return their top two backs in Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce. They combined for 1474 yards rushing in 2016, and scored17 times (13 by Nall). Nall was a big play threat, averaging 6.47 yards per carry, while Pierce averaged 5.34 yards per carry.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The QB position is in a bit of flux as of right this moment. Darrell Garretson broke his ankle in October and missed the rest of the season, and was in and out of spring ball as he recovered. Marcus McMaryion rotated in and out of the first unit in practices, but camp broke without him holding the job. Jake Luton, a transfer from Idaho and Ventura College spent a lot of time in first team reps, to varying degrees of success. This situation will likely not get ironed out until well into fall camp.
The receiving group is hardly stellar based on numbers from last season, and that could be because of the mixed up QB situation. It does not appear, that with the loss of Victor Bolden, that there is much in the way of big time talent going on here.
The line also has some issues to iron out, as the projected starters on the left side are both sophomores, and there is also an extended battle taking place at Center, where experience, again, is thin.
The PK game is also in flux, as Garrett Owens, who struggled a good deal, is being replaced most likely by Jordan Choukair.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
One has to hunt and peck through the returning roster to find pieces individually to be excited about with this group of returning players.
LB should have a couple of decent pieces in Bright Ugwoegbu and Manase Hungalu. They combined for 137 tackles last season, and will be the heart and soul of the defense in 2017.
The secondary will be thin, but CB Xavier Crawford is a star in the making. As a freshman, he finished with 10 PBUs and 70 total tackles on the season. Look for a huge season from him as a sophomore.
The Beavers do have a decent option at Punter, as Nick Proebski returns after averaging 41.3 yards per punt last season.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
The line is looking a little thin heading into fall camp. Baker Pritchard and Phillip Napoleon are projected as the starting DEs, while Elu Aydon is slated as the starting NT, but none of these players have made a mark yet on this defense, and have been devoid of applicable pressure as far as last season was concerned.
While half of the LB group is not half bad, the other half has yet to prove themselves in any real capacity. Andrzej Hughes-Murray is slated to start at ILB as a sophomore, while Jonathon Willis is set at OLB as we head to camp. Willis finished with just 20 tackles last season.
As good as Crawford was as a freshman at CB, the rest of the secondary appears to be unsettled. Dwayne Williams did not do a ton at the other CB spot, and the Safeties were mostly ineffective. That trend will have to improve, and they had several miscues (missing perfect INT opportunities, etc.) in spring ball.
2017 Schedule: 8/26 at Colorado State, 9/2 Portland State, 9/9 Minnesota, 9/16 at Washington State, 9/30 Washington, 10/7 at USC, 10/14 Colorado, 10/26 Stanford, 11/4 at California, 11/11 at Arizona, 11/18 Arizona State, 11/25 at Oregon
Final Overview
As the Beavers did show a couple of signs of life last season, the rebuild is far from over for Anderson and his staff. Anderson is still trying to put the pieces back together after Mike Riley and his crew basically nose dived this program back into the years prior to the good times, when Oregon State was the yearly doormat in the old PAC-10 and PAC-8 before that. Riley's second term as head coach of the Beavers was a mere shadow of his first, and Anderson is paying the price in trying to fix the damage. This will take some time, and the best one can hope for right now is for the Beavers to steal a couple of games here or there in those rare moments when they play over their heads.

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