2009 Oregon State Beavers Football Preview
2008 Record: (9-4, 7-2)
2008 Bowl: Sun Bowl vs. Pittsburgh (W 3-0)
Coach: Mike Riley (56-42 at Oregon State, 56-42 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Danny Langsford
Defensive Coordinator: Mark Banker
Other Key Returnees: TE Howard Croom, P Johnny Hekker, K Justin Kahut, C Alex Linnenkohl, LB Keith Pankey, G Gregg Peat, LB Dwight Roberson
Key Losses: S Al Afalava, DT Pernnell Booth, DE Victor Butler, LB Bryant Cornell, CB Brandon Hughes, S Greg Laybourn, OT Andy Levitre, CB Keenan Lewis, WR Shane Morales, DE Slade Norris, G Adam Speer, WR Sammie Stroughter, OT Tavita Thompson
Oregon State had one of the more surprising seasons of any team in the nation last season. The Beavers started by losing to Stanford and getting annihilated by Penn State, but after that Coach Mike Riley really turned his team around. After the first two games of the year it looked like OSU would be one of the worst teams in the conference, but they ended up knocking off USC, Arizona State and California, among others, en route to an extremely successful 9-4 campaign.
Oregon State's Strengths:
The biggest reason for the success was the emergence of the Rodgers brothers. Jacquizz led the team with 1,253 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns; and all of that was as a freshman. James is the more dynamic threat. He was second on the team in rushing, tallying 408 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He is also the top returning receiver after catching 51 receptions for 607 yards and four touchdowns. James is also the kick returner and is always a threat to take it all the way. The biggest concern regarding the Rodgers’ is their health. They were both out for the Sun Bowl against Pittsburgh and the result was a boring 3-0 victory. If those two can stay healthy, Oregon State is a fun team to watch.
Oregon State's Weaknesses:
The Beavers defense was pretty good during the 2008 season, but now eight starters are gone and there is some major, major rebuilding to be done. Linebackers Keaton Kristick and Keith Pankey both started all 13 games last year and Kristick is poised to emerge as the team’s leader on defense. The linebackers do lose Bryant Cornell, but Dwight Roberson, who actually ranked fourth on the team in tackles despite not earning any starts, can easily fill the void. The problem is the rest of the defense has some major holes. The front four only has tackle Stephen Paea back and defensive coordinator Mark Banker has to find a way to get pressure into the opposing backfield. Last year Oregon State led the conference in sacks, but that is going to be nearly impossible to duplicate without Victor Butler and Slade Norris. The secondary was not filled with household names, but they were a solid, experienced group. All four starters were seniors last year and that really helped the defense. Now players like Patrick Henderson and Tim Clark need to have big senior years.
The Bottom Line for the Beavers:
Quarterback Lyle Moevao is not the most consistent quarterback around, but he can certainly make plays. In addition to throwing for 2,534 yards and 19 touchdowns, he added a couple more trips to the end zone on the ground. Moevao does not have to force the issue when the Rodgers brothers are healthy and decreasing his number of interceptions is a must. However, Moevao might have less time to operate this year due to the absence of three starters on the line, most notably left tackle Andy Levitre. If Moevao feels pressure, he might make poor decisions and Oregon State has to keep the turnover margin in the black if they want to come close to repeating the success of 2008.
By Joel Welser
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