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Duck Dive: Oregon State Football 2023 Preview

Going deep with the Beavers’ scheme, returning personnel, and unknowns

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Florida vs Oregon State Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Special thanks to Travis Johannes of Building the Dam for joining me on the Quack 12 Podcast to discuss Oregon State’s roster. LISTEN HERE


The Beavers finished with the 40th ranked offense in F+ advanced statistics in 2022, behind an efficient run game and a veteran offensive line. It’s been widely observed that head coach Smith is trying to upgrade quarterback play in 2023, which has lagged behind the excellent rushing offense at Oregon State for most of his tenure. He made a midseason switch his first year in 2018 from Conor Blount to Jake Luton during that 2-10 season, then developed the latter into a 6th round draft pick with a pretty good 149.8 NCAA passer rating and the 30th ranked F+ offense in 2019. That was the high water mark for OSU quarterbacks under OC and QB coach Lindgren, as the last three years have been a succession of Tristan Gebbia, Chance Nolan, and #17 QB Gulbranson, whose career passer ratings in FBS games are all at least 15 points lower.

The first two of those have now transferred out, but Gulbranson returns. He took over as starter from Nolan in the middle of a blowout loss to Utah in week 5 last year and has had the job ever since, with a below-average 134.7 passer rating. Also returning is redshirt freshman #4 QB Throckmorton, another mid 3-star.

OSU has added two bluechips: mid 4-star 2023 recruit #3 QB Chiles who’s an electric athlete but I expect to redshirt, and former 5-star #5 QB Uiagalelei who’s been Clemson’s starter for the past two seasons, though he played in two full games in 2020 with Trevor Lawrence out for covid reasons and he got pulled from the last couple of games in 2022 in favor of Cade Klubnik before transferring out.

Uiagalelei’s on-paper talent is far greater than Gulbranson’s, but his on-field production has been worse, with a passer rating of 124.5. I can’t find any statistical evidence to support the proposition that Uiagalelei is a better performer over his three years at Clemson than Lindgren’s quarterbacks at OSU in the same timeframe, facing comparably ranked defenses in F+ and with substantially better offensive skill talent around him. In fact, the full statline comparison between the two is virtually identical:

  • Uiagalelei: 461/778 (59.3%), 5146 yds 32 TDs 15 INTs, 124.5 rating, 57.3 avg F+ defenses
  • OSU QBs: 481/795 (60.5%), 5933 yds 37 TDs 28 INTs, 131.5 rating, 60.6 avg F+ defenses

I’ve seen it suggested in both Clemson and OSU media that the Tigers’ recent staff change — longtime OC Tony Elliott left to become Virginia’s head coach at end of the 2021 season, and the QB coach and passing game coordinator Brandon Streeter was promoted to OC for 2022 – was a bad fit for Uiagalelei, and this explains the poor QB performance and Streeter’s subsequent firing. But Uiagalelei’s statistics tell the opposite story, with significant jumps in completion percentage, TD:INT ratio, YPA, and passer rating under Streeter in 2022. The simpler and likelier conclusion is that Uiagalelei’s actual level of play is modest, at about the same level as Lindgren typically extracts from his quarterbacks, and we’ll see this continue in 2023.

On the podcast, Travis and I agreed that Uiagalelei will almost certainly get the start since that’s why a QB of his pedigree would have transferred in, but also there’s a realistic possibility that there won’t be much of an improvement and that he might even be pulled for someone else during the year. If so I think that would be Gulbranson again, simply because I think this staff errs to the conservative, but Travis thinks they might burn Chiles’ redshirt in that scenario instead. The reports of his athleticism seem legitimate to me, but I’m skeptical that they’ll have an entirely different playbook – one that uses a mobile instead of a pocket-passing QB – ready to go for him midseason.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

OSU returns all the major producers in their running back room, including near-thousand yard rusher #6 RB Martinez who was only a true freshman last year and still got over 6.1 YPC. They also return seniors #1 RB Fenwick and #8 RB Griffin for what I think will be their final years; each added around 500 yards but had a lot lower per-play efficiency on my tally sheet than Martinez. Redshirt sophomore #25 RB Newell who got 16 carries but almost all in garbage time, plus a couple of walk-ons who didn’t see the field, round out the returners.

There are three departures, most importantly their wildcat runner Jack Colletto, who was also a fullback, linebacker, and occasional quarterback. In the past I’d put entire video compilations in preview articles just for the unusual packages they’d design for Colletto, and I don’t think the Beavs will ever find anyone like him. Additionally, Trey Lowe, a 4-star who’d transferred from UW but battled injuries his entire career, has medically retired, and walk-on Kanoa Shannon, who was the other mop-up duty back besides Newell, I think has run out of eligibility.

Martinez is one of the best backs in the league and I expect him to only get better in his sophomore season as the instrumental weapon in this offense. I don’t see a lot of top-end speed or particularly explosive rushing – he only had three runs of 30+ yards all season outside garbage time – but as a reliable efficiency runner he’s excellent. Fifth-year running backs like Fenwick and Griffin are unusual to find in college football with the “miles-on-the-tire” problem but depth for the unit is good for the Beavs.

Travis and I discussed how odd it is that there have been no scholarship additions to the RB room at all, especially for a unit that’s absolutely vital to the Beavs’ offense. That’s peculiar roster management because while Martinez can’t go pro until after the 2024 season, they have to be aware of the huge risk he gets poached in the NIL era. I don’t know what’s going on with Newell, he’s a former high 3-star who’s gotten basically no meaningful carries in three years on campus, which would have prompted most backs to transfer out. It’s going to be a very small room in 2024 with just Martinez (assuming they hang on to him), an aging journeyman in Griffin, whatever Newell represents, and no redshirt freshmen to have spent 2023 developing as backups. They might be seriously planning to use some walk-ons or the D3 transfer Dyontae Navarrete who was named to the Northwest Conference first team, but that’s a weird bet to make instead of leveraging their hard-earned run game credibility to recruit an FBS back.

Tight end Luke Musgrave was injured in the second week and sat out the rest of the season to prepare for the NFL draft, then was taken in the 2nd round by the Packers. That ended an era of sorts for OSU’s passing offenses under Smith, which in the first several years were mainly routed through a pair of pass-catching tight ends. They’d already lost Teagan Quitoriano to the Texans at the end of the 2021 season, and because they didn’t really replace him they were down to just Musgrave as a serious pass-catcher last year, but only had him for a couple of games.

They return #88 TE Velling and #81 TE Overman, who were mainly used as blockers – they combined for only 23 catches over the entire season, while Musgrave alone had half that many in two games. The Beavs lose their third blocking TE to the transfer portal, JT Byrne. There are three additions to the room: former 4-star #84 TE Terry from the 2021 cycle transferred in from Cal, #87 TE Sharp has switched from the OLB unit, and a mid 3-star recruit is joining in the Fall.

I don’t have a lot of expectations for this unit. Velling was a true freshman last year and got the most targets despite that so I suppose if someone is going to revitalize the pass-catching TE position at Oregon St he’s got the best claim to it, but he was out for Spring so we’ll have to wait and see. Terry’s film at Cal has been very underwhelming, and he had plenty of time to show something in Bill Musgrave’s offense that put as many as four TEs on the field at once … Overman had more receiving yards than he did last year. I was shocked that Sharp flipped from the defense, I thought he was a pretty effective edge player and I very rarely see these moves work out, especially this late into a career (he’s a redshirt senior who originally signed with OSU in 2015 before taking an LDS mission).

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Oregon State at Washington Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Beavs lose both of their most targeted receivers, Tre’Shaun Harrison and Tyjon Lindsey, who signed UDFA contracts with the Titans and Seahawks, respectively. They return the other two, #7 WR Bolden and #2 WR Gould, in what was effectively only a four-man rotation in the receiver room – Harrison was virtually always on the field, plus one or two of Bolden, Gould, and Lindsey depending on whether they were in 11- or 12-personnel. Bolden and Gould are both listed as 5’8” and don’t fit this offense’s need for at least one tall outside receiver.

It’s tough to tell who’ll replace Harrison and Lindsey, as the remaining returners got close to zero targets during meaningful play last year. #13 WR Irish has been on the team the longest, but he’s mostly been used as a sweep man, and Bolden already does that for them and gets more than double the yards per carry. #14 WR Dunmore is the most talented on paper, a former mid 4-star in the 2019 cycle who spend his first two seasons at Penn St, but he’s only caught 10 passes in four seasons (and just two of those were outside of garbage time). The other two scholarship returners are #80 WR Pope, a low 3-star from 2020, and #16 WR Valsin, a mid 3-star from 2021; neither has seen the field since arriving in Corvallis. The room is thin enough that walk-ons #18 WR Noga and #85 WR Boschma (a family friend of Travis’) might get some play.

OSU took four prep receivers in the 2023 cycle, and no portal additions. Low 3-star David Wells won’t join until the Fall, but the other three enrolled early: mid 3-stars #20 WR Card and #10 WR Reddicks, and high 3-star #19 WR Hatten. Unfortunately, all three of those were pretty limited with injuries during the Spring game so I didn’t see them much, and they’re all under 5’11” so I don’t think they help with the outside receiver issue. Wells is listed as 6’0” by 24/7 and 6’2” by OSU so somebody’s instruments appear miscalibrated, and we’ll have to wait until Fall to see if he can play outside.

All four of the 4-star wideouts Smith has acquired in his tenure have been transfers (Harrison was from Florida St, Lindsey from Nebraska), and three have left the room now that #9 ILB Tongue (from Georgia) has switched to the defense. With Dunmore’s time running out, I expected Smith to have returned to the transfer portal to get some more help here. But instead he seems to be relying on his staff’s evaluation and development of a half-dozen modest on-paper talents, none of whom have played any real football. I’m already skeptical of both the QB and TE situations, and so I’m not optimistic that OSU’s passing game will substantially improve given what appears to be a net talent drain in the WR room.

Predicting OSU’s offensive line starters is very straightforward, since they only lost one from last year, right guard Brandon Kipper who signed a UDFA contract with the Ravens. Due to a back-and-forth injury situation last year they rotated a couple of guys at left guard, #60 OG Brewer and #58 OG Bloomfield, so they’ll doubtlessly just move one over to fill Kipper’s spot and be done. #67 LT Gray, #70 C Levengood, and #75 RT Fuaga return and should have their spots sewn up.

I expect this line to be very good, it graded out well above its talent level last year and I believe OL coach Michalczik is the best developer in the league. There are only two potential areas of concern, first is that for no reason that I can tell Gray’s pass-protection grade on my tally sheet slipped badly compared to his 2021 grade in the same spot. That’s especially strange because his run-blocking grade remained very high – usually a falloff like that is because of a concealed injury, but that would affect all aspects of play, not just one thing, and Travis said he hadn’t gotten any such report. Given the concerns every observer has about OSU’s passing game, having a left tackle with a continuing pass-pro problem would be troubling.

Second is that they haven’t really addressed the backup guard situation with any new additions or bringing a developed scholarship veteran up to speed, so having last year’s primary backup become this year’s starter means the guards are pretty thin if something happens. The third guy they rotated in at left guard when both Brewer and Bloomfield were out was #61 OG T. Miller, who came in unrated out of high school in the 2019 cycle, and his blocking grades were very poor. I saw him snapping the ball during the Spring game, so I expect him to be the backup for any interior spots. There’s really only one other candidate, #55 OG White, a mid 3-star from the 2021 class who’s never played and was hurt last year, since the rest of the scholarship linemen are four redshirt freshmen and two redshirt sophomores who look like tackles (Travis suggested that the highest rated of the redshirt freshman guards, #57 OG Lopez, may be ready to step in).

Those two tackles, #73 OT Morano who got a little backup time and #71 OT Spencer who’s a converted tight end, are both low 3-stars from the 2020 cycle, and to me still look underweight for their frames and not quite ready to play. I think that the transfer OSU got from Nevada, #66 OT Starck, is far more likely to be the backup tackle instead, though he’s the only portal addition in the entire room.

I don’t expect any of the rest of the additions or departures to affect the rotation during the season, but I’ll list them for completeness’ sake: a couple of mid 3-star recruits arrive in the Fall and I expect to redshirt, Jacob Anderson and Zander Esty, and three low 3-stars have disappeared from the most recent roster update without playing, Henry Buckles, Jacob Ferenczi, and Joe Quillin. A couple walk-ons with scholarship offers from lower division programs hit the portal, Zach Holmes and Campbell McHarg.

Stanford v Oregon State Photo by David Madison/Getty Images


The Beavs finished ranked 13th in defensive F+ last year, a meteoric rise from their 91st ranking in 2021. Charting both those seasons shows no statistically significant difference in the correlations between offensive formation, down & distance, or field position with the defensive choices of box count, man vs zone coverage, or blitz patterns – current DC Bray and his predecessor Tim Tibesar are effectively identical defensive playcallers, despite the typical credulous assertions about the former being more “aggressive and daring” from sports media uninterested in film study.

While I think most of the defensive improvement from 2021 to 2022 should simply be credited to a senior group of starters who had matured into a solid group of players — last year OSU fielded nine guys who’d been starting between four and five years including Juco ball, and finished the season with over 1,600 combined tackles in their careers (though they’ve lost eight of them for 2023) – Bray did make one important structural adjustment starting in the 2021 bowl game and continued it throughout the 2022 season.

Tibesar had been trying to run a 3-4 front, but hadn’t had a reliable nose tackle for years and was forced into a misaligned 2-4-5. Bray gave up on the 3-down alignment and has switched them to a properly aligned 2-down front with DTs and edge players who are the right sizes for their jobs, and at this point the defense might be better described as a 4-2-5. (If this sounds familiar, it’s the same problem Stanford and Cal have had for years; Stanford is adopting the Bray solution a year later after a staff change, Cal is still holding out hope that this is the year at long last they’ll have a playable nose.) The official roster, however, plays coy with this switch and lists over a dozen guys simply as “DL” even though four of them have structurally similar job duties as the six scholarship players with legacy “OLB” titles. I’ll separate the discussion into tackles and edges and split the official d-linemen listing into what I believe are better understood as DTs and DEs.

In the two tackle spots, the Beavs rotated between three primary guys on most snaps, and then another four more came in at various times as backups. They’re losing one of the primary tackles, Simon Sandberg, and one of the backups, Cody Anderson, both redshirt seniors who started their college careers in 2017.

OSU returns the other two primary interior linemen, #99 DT Hodgins and #52 DT Rawls, both now redshirt seniors who started out in 2018. The three returning backups are #95 DT Golden, #45 DT Saluni, and #76 DT Sio. There are three other returners who either didn’t play or only got a little garbage time without recording a stat: mid 3-star redshirt freshman #97 DT Q. Wright, low 3-star redshirt sophomore #77 DT Fa’amoe, and mid 3-star redshirt senior #94 DT Shippen. Travis and I agreed on the podcast that Wright is the most intriguing of these since he was the highest rated and we haven’t seen him yet, the rest seem like modest talents and known quantities.

There are two prep additions, #98 DT Collins who played in the Spring game, and Abraham Johnson who’ll arrive in the Fall, both mid 3-stars. That’s a lot of depth, arguably at least three scholarships more than they need for a healthy rotation and development in a 2-down front, but at least they shouldn’t have any trouble selecting one or two more guys to step into the primary rotation.

I think Hodgins and Rawls will be fine, but they’ll really miss Sandberg whom I liked a lot over the years. All the backups graded out pretty poorly on my tally sheet, and one of the odd vulnerabilities of this otherwise highly rated defense was how weak they were to simple runs up the middle. Although they limited opponents to 4.5 adjusted YPC and fewer than 13% of designed runs against them gained 10+ yards so they did stop explosive rushing well, I charted them at only a 44.3% rush defense success rate against efficiency runs (100 successes vs 126 failures, given the down & distance, excluding garbage time). That came down to the interior linemen never really crushing inside running, and OSU was absolutely terrible on 2nd or 3rd & short with opponents getting conversions on over 86% of their rushes in such situations. (OSU probably lucked out in avoiding UCLA and Arizona from the South, two teams with running backs who could have made them pay for that vulnerability.)

USC v Oregon State Photo by Ali Gradischer/Getty Images

The Beavs used a frequent rotation at their two edge spots, with six different guys playing in virtually every game. Two of those six depart for 2023: the aforementioned Sharp converted to a tight end, and Cade Brownholtz has apparently left the team.

The returning four are #90 DE Lolohea, #10 OLB Chatfield, #6 OLB McCartan, and #82 OLB Stover. The first two of that list graded out very well on my tally sheet, while the second two didn’t – Stover just couldn’t set the edge, McCartan was very boom or bust, though Travis said he was fighting some injuries and he’s got his final year to clean up some mistakes. There are three other scholarship returners: #9 OLB Franke, a 2019 low 3-star who’s only played a bit in 2021 but missed last year with an injury, plus redshirt freshmen #43 DE Hickle and #31 OLB Malaki-Donaldson who were a mid and a high 3-star, respectively.

If the Beavs want to add to the four returning rotational guys to get back up to the six they were using last year (or perhaps battle it out for playing time given a couple guys who I think could stand to improve), I think it’s more likely that they’ll draw from three of the newcomers I saw in the Spring game: former Juco #17 OLB Taylor, Wyoming transfer #33 DE Omotosho who had more tackles and havoc plays than any returner last year, and low 4-star early enrollee freshman #88 DE K. Howard who looks like a playable body right now. There are also a couple mid 3-star freshman coming in for the Fall.

Sharp is a puzzling loss to me because he graded out as well as Lolohea and Chatfield, but between all the returning production and several promising additions who could play right away, I think this unit should at the very least hold steady and probably see a net improvement.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 04 Oregon State at Washington Photo by Jeff Halstead/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The inside linebackers lose starters Omar Speights and Kyrei Fisher-Morris, plus the backup Colletto. They combined for nearly 200 tackles last year and had 14 years of meaningful playing experience between them (15 if you count the three-game redshirt year Colletto took as a junior while switching from a QB to a 6th-year wildcat/fullback/linebacker … my man had a long, wild ride).

The other primary backup who had 37 tackles last year returns, #55 ILB Mascarenas-Arnold. He’s joined by three others who got a handful of garbage time reps, #40 ILB Erhart, #20 ILB Miller, and the converted wideout Tongue, plus two redshirt freshmen #32 ILB Jordan and #14 ILB Shaw. Out of high school, Erhart and Shaw were low 3-stars, Miller mid, Jordan high, but their listed sizes are out of whack for that on-paper talent with Jordan in particular looking really small. Clearly Mascarenas-Arnold has a starting job locked up, but out of the five remaining returners I’d have a tough time picking an obvious candidate to even be a primary backup, much less a starter.

There are three additions to the inside backers: Utah transfer #42 ILB Tufaga, Illinois transfer Calvin Hart, and prep recruit Isaiah Chisom. Tufaga was a low 4-star in the 2021 class who’s never seen the field (last week I wrote about Utah’s curious recent history with none of their bluechip linebacker recruits panning out), but I did see him playing in the Spring game. Hart was at NC State before Illinois and had a promising redshirt freshman season in Raleigh in 2019, but then injuries and covid derailed his career there; he started fresh in Champaign and had a great first game in 2021 with a big fumble return for a touchdown, but then missed the rest of the season with another injury, and reportedly seemed slower in the 2022 season and never replicated his 2019 production. Along with the mid 3-star freshman Chisom who also doesn’t enroll until Fall, we’ll have to wait until August practices to see how Hart looks.

If Hart is healthy and back to full speed, his veteran status would put him at the top of my list, otherwise I’d guess Tufaga based on his on-paper talent and simply being the biggest guy in this room at 6’1”, 240 lbs. I’m not really wild about either of them as replacements for the massive production loss they’re facing, and beyond them it’s an extremely green room with essentially no experience and modest talent ratings. Travis thinks the other starter next to Mascarenas-Arnold and the primary backups may wind up being a battle that lasts all year, not just Fall camp. It’s difficult to predict anything but a big step back for this unit.

OSU loses both of their starting cornerbacks: Alex Austen who was drafted in the 7th round by the Bills, and Rejzohn Wright who signed a UDFA with the Panthers. Austin had been a starting DB for the last three years, Wright the last two, but neither of them had really stepped up to be top-level corners until 2022, and there’s a decent argument to be made that the big jump in the Beavs’ defensive ranking is largely a product of the improved secondary play alone. OSU successfully defended about 56% of opponents’ designed passing plays (213 vs 169), allowing just 6.5 adjusted YPA and 14.5% to gain 15+ yards. Those are improvements of more than 5 percentage points in both efficiency and explosiveness, which are incredible year-over-year jumps for what were all the same personnel in the backfield.

The two starters played virtually every snap with very little rotation. The only corner I saw get a single start besides them was #4 CB Robinson, who replaced Wright in the bowl game due to a thumb injury. He’s a low 3-star redshirt senior who hadn’t seen the field until last year and only came in for a couple of garbage time reps until week 12 when Austin was injured, and even then the Beavs slid a couple of safeties over to start at corner and didn’t put Robinson in until late in the second drive. All of this is to say I have so little film on Robinson that I haven’t been able to form any opinions on him, but Travis thinks it’s not unreasonable to conclude the staff doesn’t trust him at all.

OSU’s official roster doesn’t separate out corners from safeties, but I saw mid 3-star three redshirt freshmen playing the position in the Spring game: #15 CB Mason, #13 CB Swen, and #27 CB N. Thomas. The two safeties I saw replace Austin at corner ahead of Robinson were backup safety #0 DB Arnold, who was at his normal spot in the Spring game, and starting nickel #23 DB R. Cooper, who didn’t play in Spring but I think will stay in place at nickel.

Two of the three prep DBs in the 2023 cycle played corner in high school, mid 3-stars Jermod McCoy and Andre Piper-Jordan. They don’t arrive until Fall and I doubt they’d play themselves ahead of the redshirts or the potential safety converts. The most likely new starting corner is a former Juco who arrived for Spring ball, #25 CB Ivy. He played in eight games at CSM last year and was their sixth leading DB with 17 tackles. Given the inexperience in this room, and how long it took for last year’s starters to really hit their stride, it’s difficult to see Ivy and Robinson smoothly replicating 2022’s coverage.

Oregon State v Washington Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The safeties lose starter Jaydon Grant, who’d somehow been playing since 2016 and was another DB I thought really matured in his final season; he signed a UDFA contract with the Raiders. A couple of backups who didn’t see the field much transferred out, Ron Hardge and Johnathan Riley.

The Beavs return the other starter at deep safety, #28 DB Oladapo, a redshirt senior former walk-on who leads all returners in tackles, as well as the nickel Cooper and the frequently used backups Arnold and #19 DB S. Thomas. I saw a couple other returners playing in the Spring game who I don’t believe I saw on the field last year, both low 3-stars: redshirt freshman #16 DB Mack and redshirt junior #22 DB Russell. I didn’t see #7 DB Julian in the Spring game unfortunately, he missed all of 2022 with an injury but he played a lot the previous two seasons, and Travis says he should be healthy by the Fall. They also add a mid 3-star recruit in the Fall who I believe is a safety, Harlem Howard.

With two returning starters and a good deal of experience for the backups (even more with Julian), the safety unit should be fine to hold steady even with the loss of Grant, although no real talent infusion makes it hard to predict much of a step forward given that they were already pretty much topped out last year. In my mind the only question here is if they’re deep enough to loan out a player to the corners in case of injuries or if someone in that pretty small and green room isn’t working out. As Travis and I discussed on the podcast, that’s a likely way they solve the potential catastrophe waiting for them in the cornerback unit, but we didn’t get the information out of Spring practices that’d support it so we’ll have to wait till Fall to see if they reconsider.

Accountability Corner

In last year’s preview, I predicted Nolan to get the start again, which was correct, and for him to hold steady as an about-FBS-average QB (so in the 140s for passer rating), which wasn’t – he had two great games against Boise St and Montana St, two bad games against Fresno St and USC, then seven horrific passes against Utah before he got the hook for good. I’m not actually sure that’s a big enough sample to call it a whiffed prediction since he might have bounced back if left in the whole season – those games are within the same performance range as 2021 – but I didn’t contemplate the possibility that they’d make the switch and I should have, given the 2018 history. I did correctly predict Gulbranson as the backup among many possible options and what his ceiling would be, however. I accurately called it would be a three-back rotation despite a bigger room and that Martinez would be a strong candidate for the primary back as a true freshman. A lot of space was devoted to discussing the decline of the TE unit in the passing game and shift to a 4-WR rotation instead, which proved prescient. I predicted the OL starters and backups precisely. I thought Kipper going to RG might create some problems in the run game and it did, his rush blocking grade suffered compared to 2021 when he was at tackle, but I was wrong to doubt Fuaga at RT, he graded out great and dropped down to playing weight well. I thought the injured backups might be a problem which was half right – they had a lot of injuries, but Bloomfield got healthy and filled in fine, however at the end of the year it got really bad and White had to go in and their performance suffered for it.

On defense, reviewing the article I think I caught each of the individual elements that added up to a better defensive performance, and I did think they’d make some marginal improvement for them, but I failed to actually put those pieces together and make the bold prediction that they’d really come together for a huge jump. I noticed in the bowl game that Bray had adjusted the defensive alignment, but I didn’t make the connection that he’d commit to it and switch from an embarrassed 3-4 to a proper 2-4, so most of the DT section is an absurd read as I went on a wild goose chase for a nose tackle that Bray had eliminated from the structure. Otherwise the personnel predictions at every position from DL, OLB, ILB, DB, and CB were all exactly correct, including the guys I thought would play better than others. The personnel prediction black eye I’ll take is in the CB room – I just wasn’t a believer in Austin or Wright after watching them for years, and they sure showed me.

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