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ATQ's Pac-10 Preview Spectacular: Oregon State University




Oregon State Beavers


Head Coach:  Mike Riley 38-34@OS

2006 Record:  10-4 (6-3 Pac-10)

2006 vs. Oregon:  30-28 Barkrodents at the Big Burrito

2007 vs. Oregon:  12/1 at Autzen

Returning Starters:


7 offensive (maybe), 8 defensive

2007 Schedule:


8/30 Utah

9/6 @Cincinnati

9/15 Idaho State

9/22 @Arizona State

9/29 UCLA

10/6 Arizona

10/13 @Cal

10/27 Stanford

11/3 @USC

11/10 Washington

11/15 @Washington State

12/1 @Oregon

Last season was certainly an ironic one for the Beavers.  After getting rolled by Boise State on national TV and starting off the season 2-3, Beaver fans were calling for Mike Riley's head, and begging for Sean Canfield to take over at quarterback.  Then, a funny things happened and the Beavers pulled off a minor miracle and won 8 of their last nine, including a thrilling victory over Missouri in the Sun Bowl.  After the season, Beaver fans were praising Riley and Moore.  The Duck nosedive was made all the more painful by the fact that we never heard the end of it from Beaver fans.

And Beavers fans are very hopeful about this season as well.  Many publications have OS(U) finishing in the upper half of the conference.  Some even have them in their top-25.  Me, I'm much more skeptical.  I know that they return Yvenson Bernard, Alexis Serna, possibly the best offensive line in the conference, and most of their defense.  But, there is one problem:  they don't have a quarterback.  Neither Sean Canfield nor Lyle Moeavo has won the job, and the Beavers may even go with the dreaded two quarterback system.  They don't have Joe Newton.  And, more importantly, Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows where the hell Sammie Stroughter is.  While on a serious note we hope that Sammie's okay, when your best player is AWOL, its not a good sign about where your season is headed.

Like Arizona, I could be wrong about OS(U).  They certianly have talent to have a good season.  But when questions surround both the team's best player and most important position, it doesn't exaclty inspire confidence.

Offense

Quarterbacks

Quarterback is one of the two big controversies on the offense.  Sophomore southpaw Sean Canfield has the most experience, completing 28/45 passes in mop up duty last year.  Canfield is a classic dropback passer with a strong arm, but has yet to set himself apart in fall camp.  JUCO transfer Lyle Moeavo is the other guy fighting for the job.  He has a decent arm but, unlike Canfield, is a running threat as well.  Of course, there is the possibility that Riley can't make a choice and goes with the old two quarterback system.  Two inexperienced quarterbacks embroiled in controversy and likely both going to have to play?  Sounds like a bad quarterback situation to me.  Sure, Canfield or Moeavo could come out and be great.  But so much can possibly go wrong....

Running Backs


Yvenson Bernard is the best running back in the conference not named Jonathan Stewart.  He's already the third leading rusher in Oregon State history.  Oregon State will have one of the better running games in the conference.  Clinton Polk was supposed to backup Bernard, but he has academic issues and his eligibility is in question.  It'll be interesting to see who fills the backup role.  Patrick Fuller and freshman Ryan McCants are the top candidates.  However, pending injury, OS(U) is set at the RB position.

Receivers


Two weeks ago, I'd have thought that the Beavers were set at the wideout position.  However, All-American candidate Sammie Stroughter is gone for personal issues, and nobody seems to know where he is at.  This has to be concerning for Beaver fans.  Questions are now swirling about Stroughter's health and legal status, and Beaver fans try to account for his absence.  Hopefully he's okay, but this is one of the more interesting situations I've seen.  Obviously, a lot of Oregon State's season hinges on whether he'll be able to play.  Aside from Stroughter, Anthony Brown (formerly Anthony Wheat-Brown) is a likely starter.  He was on his way to a good season last year before he was suspended for the final four games.  However, he's a four year starter with loads of experience.  Chris Johnson played a considerable amount last year as well.  Brandon Powers, who had 39 receptions last year, returns as the starter at slotback.  Losing tight end Joe Newton will be a blow.  It will be interesting to see who ends up there.  OS(U), even without Stroughter, is better off than some teams at wideout, but will need a productive Stroughter to have a chance of big things this year.
Offensive Line


The Barkrodent offensive line is arguably the best in the conference.  Every player was on an all-conference team last year.  Four of them return.  Kyle DeVan, Andy Levitre, Jeremy Perry, and Roy Schuening all return, and all are very good.  They will open up lots of holes for Mr. Bernard.  Tavita Thompson will fill in at left tackle.  The first time starter has seen considerable action as the main backup on the line.

Defense

Defensive Line

The Beavers lose two starters on the defensive line, including notorious sheep lover Ben Siegert.  Jeff Van Orsow has 25 straight starts on the defensive line.  Also returning is tackle Curtis Coker, who had 13 starts last year.  The other positions will be filled with experienced players, but those players have been backups in the past.  Pernell Booth and Dorian Smith are the most likely candidates.  Should be a decent, though not stellar, group.

Linebackers


Oregon State returns all three linebackers, and they're all really good.  Derrick Doggett was second team all Pac-10 last year, Joey LaRocque had 98 tackles, and Alan Darlin had five sacks.  This is a great group, and should help out the secondary immensely.

Secondary


Three starters return in the secondary.  Corners Keenan Lewis (24 starts) and Brandon Hughes both return.  However, the main backup, Coye Francis, was recently dismissed from the team for gun charges.  Three players will rotate at the two safety positions.

Special Teams


I really hate Alexis Serna, but he's the best kicker in the country.  Punter Kyle Loomis abruptly quit the team, so Serna may have to take over punting duties as well.

Prediction


Oregon State definitely has a lot of talnet returning from last years surprising team.  If everything goes well, and the Beavers stay away from the sheep, as high as third in the conference is not totally out of the question.  But uncertainty at quarterback, questions about Sammie Stroughter, and the loss of Joe Newton really have the possibility to hurt this team.  I see a drop off this year to around the middle of the pack.  They should win all their non-conference games, so 7-5 is looking like my guess.  Good for 5th or 6th in the conference and a low tier bowl for the Beavers.

--Dave