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2010 Oregon Football Preview :: Oregon State Beavers

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Part 12 in a series on Oregon's 2010 season opponents

Part 1: New Mexico | Part 2: Tennessee | Part 3: Portland State | Part 4: Arizona State | Part 5: Stanford | Part 6: Washington State | Part 7: UCLA | Part 8: USC | Part 9: Washington | Part 10: Cal | Part 11: Arizona

Time TBA :: December 4, 2010 :: Reser Stadium

Opponent Oregon State
Nickname Beavers
Location Corvallis, OR
Enrollment 21,969
Head Coach Mike Riley (63-47)
Stadium Reser Stadium (45,674) : FieldTurf
2009 Record 8-5, (6-3 Pac 10)
Starters Returning 8 Offense : 7 Defense
Base Offense one back
Base Defense 4-3
Blogs Building the Dam
Newspapers Corvallis Gazette-Times, The Oregonian

Top Returners

Category Player
Rushing Jacquizz Rodgers :: 273 Rushes : 1440 Yards : 21 TD
Passing Ryan Katz :: 14/27 : 232 Yards : 1 TD : 0 INT
Receiving James Rodgers :: 91 Receptions : 1034 Yards : 9 TD
Tackles Lance Mitchell :: 72 Total
Sacks Stephen Paea :: 3 sacks
Interceptions Lance Mitchell :: 3 INT

Much like Oregon, the Beavers come into the season with high expectations. There is a general consensus that is one of the best teams in the conference, and I've seen almost every Oregon State projection between #2 and #4 this season, with a few people even picking them to win the thing. If the Beavers win against TCU or Boise State, we'll know a lot about them early and know they're for real. However, with their reputation for losing big early and winning big late, even being blown out in both of those games won't tell us anything in the negative about this team. We know they'll be firing on all cylinders by the time the Civil War rolls around, and there is a decent shot it could be for the Roses yet again.

2009 Offensive Statistics

Statistic Oregon State Oregon
Pass Offense 270.77 (27) 180.31 (98)
Rush Offense 139.85 (67) 231.69 (6)
Total Offense 384.5 (58) 412.00 (33)
Scoring Offense 31.46 (26) 36.08 (8)
Pass Efficiency 141.51 (28) 128.03 (59)
Sacks Allowed 2.23 (74) 1.00 (10)
3rd Down Conversion % 43.7 (15) 35.12 (95)
Yards/Play 5.5 (47) 6.0 (24)
Offensive S&P+ 107.3 (38) 124.4 (11)

The first thing you have to talk about with the Oregon State offense is the Rodgers brothers. Jacquizz is one of the best running backs in the game, going for almost 1500 yards on the ground last season, and adding 78 receptions to boot. He's not overly fast, but he's tough, physical, has sure hands (he has never fumbled). His brother James, on the other hand, has a ton of speed. He's also as good a receiver as there is in the conference, catching a whopping 91 ball last year for well over a thousand yards, and adding 58 carries, mostly on the fly sweep. Together, they account for about three quarters of OSU's offense. The key to beating Oregon State is slowing these guys down. If one of these guys has a big day, they are awfully tough to beat. If they both have a big day, whoever is playing the Beavers is going to lose.

If the Rodgers brothers are a known quantity, OSU's big unknown is at quarterback. First team all Pac-10 QB Sean Canfield graduated, and taking his place will be talented sophomore Ryan Katz. According to Bruce Feldman, Ryan Mallett is the only QB in college football with a stronger arm than Katz. Mike Riley coached QBs do have a reputation for struggling early, but all accounts out of OSU camp are that Katz is having a spectacular fall. If he lives up to the hype, Oregon State's offense could be even scarier this season.

Helping out Katz' cause is that four starter return on the offensive line. This line did allow Sean Canfield to be sacked over two times a game last season, and the starting left tackle will sit out the opener with an ankle injury, but if they can stay healthy, should be improved on pass protection. We already know they can open up big holes. The Beavers also return their top two tight ends and two of three starting receivers.

The key to Oregon State's offensive success this season will come down to the play of Katz and the health of the Rodgers brothers. They could be one of the best offenses in the conference, or be severely hampered by inconsistent quarterback play or injuries. I would expect it to be the former, and it could be the biggest test of the year for the Oregon defense.

2009 Defensive Statistics

Statistic Oregon State Oregon
Pass Defense 235.08 (84) 207.62 (44)
Rush Defense 114.38 (25) 128.69 (42)
Total Defense 349.46 (46) 336.31 (35)
Scoring Defense 25.00 (57) 23.77 (51)
Pass Efficiency Defense 130.19 (64) 112.30 (25)
Tackles for Loss 5.31 (81) 6.31 (40)
Opponent 3rd Down % 37.35 (42) 37.91 (51)
Turnover Margin +0.38 (31) +0.15 (51)
Yards/Play Allowed 5.3 (59) 4.4 (12)
Defensive S&P+ 96.8 (55) 119.2 (18)

Defense holds more question marks than offense for Oregon State. A middle of the pack defense a year ago in terms of both yards per play and S&P+, the four defensive losses, they've lost four starters, and none will be felt more than the loss of LB Keaton Kristick and LB David Pa'aluhi, who left to enter the military. How this unit fares, moreso than the offense, will determine if the Beavers can compete for a Rose Bowl.

They do return three of four player on their line, including DT Stephen Paea, who may be the best defensive lineman in the conference. The three returnees are all seniors, and the newcomer is a junior. This is a group big on size and experience, and watching this crew go up against the Oregon offensive line will be arguably the most epic line battle of the season for Oregon. It will be physical and nasty.

That said, while this was a very good rush defense last year, they take a bit hit with the loss of their two best linebackers. In the losses of Kristick and Pa'aluhi, the two top tacklers from a season ago are gone, as well as the emotional leader of the defense. The play of Dwight Roberson, Ruben Robinson, and Keith Pankey at this position will make or break this defense. They do return three of four starters in the secondary, but it was a very vulnerable secondary last season.

All and all, I would expect this to be another good but not great defense.

2009 Special Teams Statistics

Statistic Oregon State Oregon
Kick Returns 21.89 (59) 24.91 (10)
Punt Returns 7.96 (72) 12.00 (27)
Kickoff Returns Against 17.69 (4) 20.85 (42)
Punt Returns Against 6.23 (28) 6.83 (T-36)

Oregon State's special teams should be stellar as usual. Kicker Justin Kahut and punter Johnny Hekker were both second team all Pac-10 a season ago, while James Rodgers heads up the return corps.

Final Analysis

This is my pick for second place in the conference, and playing them in Corvallis is by far the game that scares me most this season. I could easily see this game being for the Roses again, and, while I think our chances are better than 50/50 at this point, I'm not sure its by much. Lets just hope it goes as well as it has the last couple of seasons.