Monthly Archives: December 2013

What a way to celebrate Christmas!

As The Official Candy Report ramps back up after the Christmas break, the first thing we need to look at is that DAMN FINE bowl game!

Bowl games are a unique beast when it comes to the college football season in one very specific and important way — they have no bearing on the rest of your season.

Bowl games are the last game. They are either in exotic, semi-exotic or downright lame places.  They are surrounded by dinners, events, pageantry, and in most cases, only have one objective: Winning.

No matter how you play, or how close the game is, or how that team stacked up against its opponent is irrelevant. You have played all your games and you won or lost them. So the bowl game is about coming out of it with a win, and that is just what Oregon State did.

They started fast, with Rashaad Reynolds practically single-handedly sealing the game with more fumble returns for a touchdown than OSU has had in the last decade combined. The offense did what it needed to do, move the ball, scored when it could, and gave the defense time to rest up. Both sides of the line dominated against Boise State, and the running backs continued to run really well.

In fact, I am not sure if it is just the line getting better and creating bigger holes or what, but it appeared that the running backs were hitting the holes faster and with more authority.  Ward and Woods both seemed to get going quicker and were able to gain some tough yards to turn what was normally a 2nd and 8 this year into a 2nd and 6. Those two or three extra yards are so important to an offense and to staying balanced.  While 70-yard scampers are awesome, being able to extend drives against some of the more up-tempo teams is very important to helping keep your defense rested.

In my mind, there is no real nitpicking on the Beavers’ bowl game performance.  Yeah, it is always fun to drop 40+ on opponents, but when you are playing Christmas Eve in the last game of the season in Hawaii, I would’ve taken a sloppy 1-point win. The other 14 points OSU had as a buffer were just gravy. Lots of players got to play, and lots of new names were making waves, such as Joshwa James and Larry Scott.

To me, every game points to the future. This is the first win OSU has closed out a season with since 2007. It evens the series with Boise State. More importantly, it feels like the level of separation between the programs after BSU crushed OSU in Boise in 2005 has decreased. This win was a good one for the future of Beaver football. It happened in an area that OSU likes to recruit, in a place where there were active recruits we were pursuing and gives the coaches something positive to talk about during the final stretch of the recruiting marathon.

No matter what happens with players looking at the NFL, I think OSU has shown fans reasons to be optimistic for next season. All I want to see is OSU close out the recruiting season with a big name offensive tackle and a fast receiver. Then I want to see an all-out effort to beat Portland State week one of next year. Starting out 3-0 and beating FCS opponents is the best way to start a season.

3 Reasons Boise State Will Win (Peter’s Take)

This always makes me kind of puke when I think of it. How can I provide reasons that an opponent will win — when there is no way my mind can rationalize this. Whether it is the ducks or Alabama or Boise State or Eastern Washington, I cannot for the life of me bring myself to pick reasons the Beavers will lose.

Unfortunately, I took the plunge into the legitimate and objective world of sports blogging, and that requires a certain amount of professionalism. And apparently photos of food.

So here they are, my three reasons that Boise State will win the game tonight. May God have mercy on my soul.

1.  The potent running game of BSU versus three young linebackers.
No matter how you slice it, OSU is short handed at the position that lines up between the defensive line and the secondary.  With Alexander having surgery and Doctor completing his unscheduled redshirt year, OSU is going to have three players with less than one year of total starting experience in this game.

Boise State has a very potent running attack featuring Jay Ajayi and his 1300+ yards of rushing- and 17 touchdown- attack. That would be tough if he was the only threat, but with a mobile quarterback as well, OSU is going to have to pick its poison. While Mageo and Johnson have both played extensively this year, the whole front seven is going to have to keep both Ajayl and Hedrick in front of them. No small task for sure!

2. Boise State is rarely the nail.
In most games, there is a hammer and a nail. The hammer is the team that out hustles, out hits, and basically intimidates the other team.  Against Stanford, OSU matched the Cardinal punch for punch, and had it not been for an unfortunate minute of football at the end and beginning of the first and second halves, would have won.

Then against Washington, the Beavers were kind of the nail.

Boise State is a tough team, filled with blue-collar players and coaches that want to make sure that Sunday morning is uncomfortable for their opponents. They will fight, scratch, and claw on the line all day, and will play from snap to just past the whistle. OSU has games like that and then, for some reason, doesn’t. (though I usually think it has more to do with knowing what to do than being less aggressive, but that is a story for another day.)

This balanced BSU team, with a top-35 rushing and passing offense and a stingy defense is going to play fast, aggressive, and will try to set the tone every play. Running routes over the middle, tipped balls, blocks and pass rush will all be places that Boise players will try and leave their mark, both mentally and physically.

Boise State is going to come out fighting and OSU needs to match that. If not, it could be a rough game for the Beavers.

3. Nothing to lose
That is the scariest. While everyone deals with it differently, I have known Bob Gregory long enough to know that he wants to leave on a winning note, and that he is going to expect nothing less from his players. There is so much turmoil for the Broncos right now, that for many of them, this is a chance to strap it up, play the game they love, and forget about their issues for a couple hours. Boise State is looking to make a statement and to show the world that they deserve respect. With the playoffs coming and the chances for mid-tier teams to make it in potentially dwindling, BSU needs to take advantage of every opportunity.

These BSU players are going to come in tired of the talk and media attention and coach issues and just be ready to take it out on the Beavers.  That is always scary.

3 Reasons OSU Will Win Today (Raju’s Take)

I’ll keep this sweet and short because I know it’s game day and you guys also are busy getting ready for the holidays. Have a wonderful time with your family, friends, and the Beavers!

Momentum: I know, I know, there’s no such thing as moral victories. But there were a lot of positives for the Beavers to take away from the Civil War game. Enough, that if they carry that momentum into today’s game, they should have an excellent chance of beating the Broncos. OSU can run the ball, they can force turnovers, they can win. But they need to set the temp early on and not look back.

The Run Game: Along the same lines, if the Beavers can come out and run the ball like they did against Oregon, they will win. If any unit needs to keep things rolling, it’s the running backs. They ran with heart and a purpose against the Ducks, and they need to do it against the Broncos. Boise State is known for being physical. If the Beavers can come out and smash the Broncos in the mouth, that should open things up for Sean Mannion. Plus, it would give Woods, Ward, and Co. a lot to look forward to next season.

Cooks and more Cooks: This could be Bradin Cooks’ last game as a Beaver (I’m holding out hope his bromance with Woods prevails) and I am thinking he puts on a show. He needs just 52 yards to break the Pac-12 single season record for receiving yards. I’d love to see him do that on the first play of the game for a TD! I am not sure Boise State can contain Cooks and that’s why I think he will carry OSU to victory.

Go Beavers! (And boo Peter for not wearing any Beavers stuff to work today! CHAINSAW fail.)

Hawaii Bowl at a Glance

Who: Boise State Broncos (8-4, 6-2 Mountain West Conference) vs. Oregon State Beavers (6-6, 4-5 Pac-12)

Time: 5 p.m.

Where: Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: Beaver Sports Network

Last time these two teams met: Boise State won, 37-24, in Boise. The two teams have played each other seven times. OSU holds a 4-3 edge.

Last Hawaii Bowl appearance: The Beavers earned a trip to Hawaii in 1999 after finishing 7-5. It was their first winning season in 28 years and marked the turnaround of OSU football. Unfortunately, the hometown Warriors ended up winning, 23-17. It was OSU’s first bowl appearance since the 1965 Rose Bowl.

Notes: Five current OSU players (Titus Failauga, Manase Hungalu, Devon Kell, Ali’i Robbins, Mana Rosa) hail from Hawaii. Junior wide receiver Brandin Cooks needs 52 yards to break Marqise Lee’s Pac-12 record of 1,712 receiving yards in season. Junior quarterback Sean Mannion needs just 56 yards to break Cody Pickett’s Pac-12 record for passing yards in a season. Pickett threw for 4,458 yards in 2002. Boise State’s projected starter at QB is Grant Hedrick, who prepped at Central High School in Independence, Ore. about 35 minutes from OSU. He was recruited by the Beavers. (RW)

Happy Holidays from The Candy Report

Hey everyone, we at The Candy Report hope you have an amazing time with family and friends and enjoy the game tonight. I will be celebrating Christmas with the Peter71 clan and cheering my face off in the metropolis of Creswell. I will be moderating this post so if you want to chat just leave a comment and I will try to respond between cheers and eggnog.

Raju will be watching with anger in his heart and ferocious cheers and jeers on his tongue.  I will try to get him to chime in if anyone is around.

Have a blessed time and a very happy 2014 . . . hopefully with a McGary commitment.

GO BEAVERS!

The Candy Report: Hawaiian Time

As the 2013 season came to a close on a bittersweet note, the chance for one last game materialized into a trip to paradise to take on a familiar, if unstable, opponent. As Oregon State enters the game this Christmas Eve, hoping to electrify a national, ESPN audience, there is quite a bit at stake: 7-6 sounds a heck of a lot better than 6-7.  And a win against Boise State, a quality opponent for sure, would amount to a great step forward going into next season. This game also could give the Beaver a great showcase for future players, some on the islands and some around the country.

While those are all great things, the real reason that OSU needs this win is so it can maintain momentum. Beaver Nation is filled with angst, but more importantly, an increasing level of apathy. Apathy, not anger, is the killer of sports teams’ fan bases. Apathy is what kills donations and season ticket sales because apathetic fans close their wallets and their minds. While seven wins would be three short of what I had hoped for this year (and it is obvious now what those three wins could have been), it is at least a winning season. Not only that, it continues a winning trend. I have talked about recruiting for a while, and how it predicates winning, but there is something even more important.

Momentum.

Oregon State has tried to create momentum in losses for five straight years. The loss to BYU in Las Vegas to the string of Civil War losses has left players during the offseason having to rely on their collective chip-on-the-shoulders to motivate themselves to improve. No player on this Oregon State squad is satisfied with this season, just like no player thought they would be going to Hawaii this time of year. Truth be told, they all probably thought they would be in Pasadena this year.

As they should’ve.

A win in Hawaii would enable the Beavers to be motivated by positives result heading into the offseason: being one step closer to their goals and the fact that two years of losing has turned into two years of winning. With the changes Mike Riley has made to his staff in recent years as well as changes in recruiting methods, OSU is not only bringing in better athletes, they are keeping them.

Recruiting rankings according to Rivals since 2009:
2009: 54th-ranked class; 15 stayed all four/five years; 9 did not complete their time at OSU.
2010: 44th-ranked class; 10 stayed all four/five years; 10 did not
2011: 56th-ranked class; 17 are still there; 8 gone
2012: 39th-ranked class; 19 still here; 4 gone.
2013: 39th-ranked class; 22 here; 3 gone

OSU is currently ranked 44th this year. With a few blue-chip players out there that Oregon State is in the hunt for, a big win in Hawaii might go a long way. Three big-name players sign and this could be another sub-40 class. Oregon State is just starting to see the effects of the the most talented classes they have signed since 2004.

Recruiting is slow and prognostagory (not a word) in nature. We want quick fixes such as firing coaches and swapping out coordinators, but those are answers to today’s problems.  When working toward the future, you have to look five years down the road, especially in football.

Don’t like the way the Beavers ran the ball this year? The majority of linemen were from the 2009 class. Wish we had better defensive tackles? The only defensive tackle from the 2009 and 2010 classes that was on the field was Mana Rosa, a player recruited as a defensive end.

This year and some of its shortcomings are a direct result of mistakes, missed opportunities and past tragedies. As much as we may bemoan coaching decisions and play calls, there is also an element of players making plays. The more talent you can draw from, the better your chances. Not that OSU is bare of talent, not at all. The problem is that when a player goes down, who is their backup?  When OSU lost several linemen early this season, the young and inexperienced players that came in did well because they were on par with the talent of those who they were playing against.

A win in Hawaii, and in a small way, the follow up game in Hawaii next fall, could be a great way for OSU to not only secure the recruits it already has verbals from, but to sway some of the other players it’s reaching out to. Going into the offseason with a bowl win, a winning record, and promising recruiting class could spell big things for OSU in the future. Three straight top-40 classes would be the best three year stretch in Oregon State recruiting history (well, since they started keeping track of such things in 2002).

Beat Boise State and there are still questions going into the off season and still things OSU can do to improve, but for the first time since 2008, they can go out with a win and a favorable schedule next season to build on the success of the last two years.

Go Beavers!

The Candy Report coming tonight

Life has gotten a hold of me a bit, but I am going to try and get this week’s The Candy Report posted tonight. It is going to focus on the bowl game in Hawaii, but one thing I thought of that won’t be in it, but that I wanted to share is this:

There is no consolation prize to not going to the Rose Bowl: It should always be your priority and what teams strive for. As we have seen again this year, you have no control over who goes to the NC game, at least this last year, but you do have a say in the Rose Bowl — and that is always the goal.

That being said, there are worse bowls to go to than the Honolulu Bowl, and here is why:

1.I remember leaving work early to go to a bar and watch the Sun Bowl in 2006.  While it was super fun, the reality is that it was during the middle of the week during the middle of the day.  While most kids in the country are on winter break, there is a lot of competition for attention during those days and many of the mid-tier and upper tier/non BCS bowl games have competing time slots and happen at times when people are busy doing a lot of  other things.

In the case of the Honolulu Bowl, many families will be together on Christmas eve.  While not everyone celebrates Christmas, most people get the day off, so the night before tends to be a time when everyone is together. It is also after most work days, even on the West Coast because it starts at 5:00.

So there will be a lot of eyes on this game. We have almost always at least had it on in the background of our family since I can remember.

So it is not just a chance for OSU to get to 7 wins and end the season on a high note, but it is a chance for them to play in front of, hopefully, a lot of eyes and show potential recruits what being a Beaver is all about.

2. Recruiting trip. I am sure the coaches will stay behind a day or two, at least some of them, to reach out to their committed players but also to reach out to some interested players. Oregon State has a few great ones coming in, and if all they can do is go in and secure those commitments, then the trip is a recruiting success. If they can convince some other players to come along, then that is just gravy.

Rick Neuheisel, Anyone?

Perhaps you saw the recent news that Nick Saban is turning to Lane Kiffen to evaluate Alabama’s offense. I think it’s a great move.

While Kiffen isn’t the person I’d bring in for the job, I am fan of bringing in consultants. It’s always nice to have a fresh set of eyes that can offer different perspectives. Especially if a team has went with the status quo for awhile, which the Beavers certainly have.

And Peter has discussed the idea of Mike Riley bringing in a consultant to help bolster the Beavers’ offense and defense. I have a great candidate in mind: Rick Neuheisel.

He played QB for UCLA, he has coached two Pac-12 teams (UW, UCLA), and most importantly, he has coached against Mike Riley. So he obviously knows football, especially the offensive side.

Despite growing up calling him “Slick Rick” or “Neuweasel,” I’ve come to really enjoy and respect Neuheisel’s knowledge of the game. He does excellent work on the Pac-12 Network. In fact, I think he’s the best part of the coverage.

He also seems to have a ton of respect for MIke Riley and the way he runs his program. So I bet he’d be able to provide some much-needed input without ruffling too many feathers. I mean it can’t hurt, right?

Heck, why stop there? I know Neuheisel has a somewhat checkered past, but why is he never mentioned as a possible replacement if Mike Riley should ever step down as the Beavers’ coach?

He’s always been an excellent  recruiter, he knows how to schmooze with the boosters, and he is very articulate and marketable. And if he surrounds himself with good assistant coaches, I bet he would win football games.

The big question is, would Neuheisel come to Corvallis? I might be too optimistic, but I could see him enjoying coaching the Beavers, and ultimately thriving at the helm.

At the very least, it it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to consider him sometime down the road . . . (RW)

Beaver Recruiting Needs

One of the reasons I hang out so much at BeaverBlitz is the recruiting information.  It is easy to browse their databases to find out facts about classes past, present, and future.

In looking at recruiting, sometimes it is simple to  just say, “Oregon State struggled at running the ball so they must need a lot of help on the line and in the backfield.” Or you might think “OSU had a hard time stopping the run and mobile QBs so they must need help on the defensive line and at linebacker.”

For those of you who make those statements, you are largely correct. Oregon State does need to recruit offensive linemen, running backs, defensive linemen, and linebackers. Every year, you want to work your best to replace your entire team and then fill in more where you are thin.  That is ideal. Unfortunately, some years, because of limited numbers of quality talent at those positions or just a lot of swings and misses by the recruiting staff, you have a lack of parity within your class.

This lack of parity gives leaves you with situation like OSU has currently. They have three offensive linemen committed in this class.  All of which are most likely center or guard recruits.  So there is a need at offensive tackle just to make this class more complete. For Oregon State, there is a greater need for line help than just filling an annual quota. Of the offensive linemen they landed in 2010 and 2011, only two remain on the roster. And Roman Sapolu may or may not get another hardship year, but he and Justin Addie are the only two scholarship linemen from those classes who are still on the team.

Everyone else is from 2012 and later. So while you are losing three starters from the 2009 class this year, the next oldest starters are from the class of 2012. Gavin Andrews and Isaac Seumalo are both going to be true juniors in 2014, with everyone else most likely being from the 2012 and 2013 classes. The loss of David Keller, who retired due to concussion issues, means that in 2016, OSU will most likely lose the majority of their starters from that impressive 2012 class.

Many people believe that OSU needs to build this depth for next year, but the reality is that many of the freshmen they get, even great ones that they are pursuing now, such as Kaleb McGary and Kolton Miller, are going to have a hard time beating out Andrews, Sean Harlow and Gerrett Weinreich (if he stays healthy). Not to mention a talented player like Nolan Hansen that is not going to easily be supplanted behind those starters. So for one of these kids to come in and start over Harlow or Andrews would be amazing for the Beavers because that would mean they just signed all-conference caliber talent out of high school.

Amazing? Yes. Likely? No.

The importance for Oregon State, right now, is to meter current needs with future ones.  Currently Coach Cav is wooing a JC offensive tackle named Bobby Keenan. He would be a great addition, but is also a short-term addition because he won’t have the full four or five years with the Beavers. So while he would address immediate tackle needs for next seasons, two years from now when the need is greatest, he might not be available anymore.

As with anything related to recruiting, depth should not be viewed on a whole as a quick fix or immediate boost. It can be sometimes, in special cases such as Quizz Rodgers or Stephen Paea. But for the most part, you are building for two and three years down the road. If people want to know why I am hopeful for the future of Oregon State football, I will point to the changes they made three years ago in bringing in coach Brennan and coach Brasfield. Or the growth that coach Gunderson has made in terms of recruiting. Or the addition of coach Perry and coach Bray, while reassigning coach Locey to a position where he can impact the future of OSU football by maintaining relations with its past. Those changes brought about three straight top-40 classes with two in the top 30s. OSU is continuing down that path this year, and as the effects of poor recruiting classes of the past start to fade away, the real strength of those changes are starting to be seen.

There is no mystery to why players such as Josh Mitchell and Grant Bays can come in, and OSU doesn’t miss a beat. Those guys are great athletes who OSU recruited to be improvements over the athletes it already had.

As a result, we shouldn’t be shocked if a sophomore named Sean Harlow makes waves on the all-conference team next year. He is an amazing player and talent-wise is an improvement over what we have seen since the days of Roy Schuening and Andy Levitre.

And we shouldn’t be shocked if the Beavers manage to land Miller and McGary, and those guys start later, when they are redshirt sophomores or redshirt juniors. The better OSU recruits, the harder it is even for blue chip guys, to break into the lineup early. That is what championship teams build their rosters. The occasional mind-blowing player will come in and take over, but for the most part, teams like Stanford are always adding depth, and those players have to wait because what is in front of them is high-quality talent.

When a bust is a bust

There is a lot of talk on message boards and around water coolers about players being busts.  You hear pundits talking about a player needing to transfer when he’s just a redshirt freshman, or lamenting about the high expectations they had for a true sophomore.

There also is this knee jerk reaction that if a kid doesn’t see significant time as a true freshman, that they are not a great player.

I find this to minimize the impact of great Beaver players like Damola Adeniji, Tim Clark, and Victor Butler. All of those guys were juniors or seniors when they emerged on the scene — and were all very important for the Beavers’ success. So often, we forget that guys like Greg Peat were not great contributors until the last half of their OSU careers.

Beyond that, even in cases like OSU has, where you have about three different classes that for whatever reason were weak, you hope that you at least get a handful of legit competitors.  For instance, the 2010 class included Scott Crichton, Connor Hamlett, Sean Mannion, Ryan Murphy, DJ Alexander, Terron Ward, and Trevor Romaine.  That is a bunch of good players and, in some cases, NFL talent.

But it also had Shayden Akuna, Michael Bibbee, Dominic Glover, Ryan Handford, Thomas Molesi, Will Storey, Happy Iona, Josh Williams, and Fred Thompson, none of who will finish their careers at OSU.  In some cases such Molesi and Iona, they never made it to campus. In other cases such Fred Thompson, there a tragic end to their Oregon State careers.

2011 was similar:

Current Contributors:
Brandon Bennett
Kellen Clute
Brandin Cooks
Rusty Fernando,
Rudolf Fifita
Jabral Johnson
Storm Woods
Dylan Wynn
Tyrequek Zimmerman
Richard Mullaney
Blake Harrah
Larry Scott

Non-Contributors:
Malcom Agnew
Peter Ashton
Darryl Jackson
D’Vante Henry
Tyler Trosin
Mishawn Cummings

The problem with that class was it had a lot of JC players.  While JCs can be great contributors, their time at OSU is much shorter, so they are not able to contribute as long as the rest of their class.

So even 2011, a class that is entering its redshirt junior year has a lot of players that could still contribute if they are not passed by younger athletes. Players such as Akeem Gonzales and Justin Addie have a chance to make their mark next season if they can get into the two deep.

That is basically 19 players making an impact right now on the two deep, and doesn’t even include the 2009 class this last year that had 11 people start games this year. So 30 of the players that saw the field this year were from 2009 – 2011. Knowing that 2012 and 2013 are two of the best classes we have seen at OSU since Rivals started tracking players, you can see that most of those guys might still contribute. Chris Brown is seeing the field more than Yvenson Bernard did at the same time. Yvenson had similar issues with fumbling, especially against LSU. He was not a fan favorite until his junior year. Woods and Ward will be juniors next season, and if Chris can get in the mix, he would be doing so as a redshirt sophomore.

So to say his time is up, when he is just beginning and seasons are long and injury-filled, is premature. Remember, Barry Sanders didn’t start until his junior year, and he was pretty good.