As I have been looking forward to 2014 season, and looking back at the 2013 season, one thing sticks out to me.
Michael Doctor needs to be on the field.
Missing last season were his 83 tackles and 11 tackles for loss. Missing was his blanket coverage on tight ends and runnings backs that resulted in four pass breakups and one interception. Missing were the intangibles that made opposing quarterbacks look the other way or take longer in their reads because the speedy Doctor was in good position or was lurking around the intended receiver.
You cannot quantify the difference a healthy Michael Doctor would’ve make on the Beavers in 2013, but with four games decided by a score or less, you have to wonder if not having a postseason awards candidate senior playing alongside them affected the players. Would Michael have made a difference against Stanford at the end of the first half, ASU in the first few drives, USC in the first few drives, or the ducks in any of their drives?
Doctor was the most consistent linebacker for the Beavers in 2012, and with so many games that started so poorly last season, you have to wonder if having him then would have been the difference in stopping a handful of drives.
So while it was a sad situation, assuming that Michael gets his medical hardship (which is very probable considering he never took a redshirt year), it is a gift for the 2014 season. Seeing the maturation of Jabral Johnson, Caleb Saulo, and Rommel Mageo should give Beaver fans a lot to be excited about this coming season from OSU’s linebackers.
Also, factor in that they are going to work on transitioning to a base 3-4 defense, and that means you could easily utilize the speed of Doctor, Alexander, Johnson, and Seulo on the field at the same time. That is the most experienced and talented group of players the Beavers will have on the field since 2007.
Doctor would have made a huge impact this past season. I can see where he could have potentially been the difference in two games, notably Stanford and the Civil War. A 9-4 record is much nicer than a 7-6 record for sure. Of course, the ‘what if’ game works all sorts of ways and you can never say that he absolutely would have made a difference.
All I know is that 2014 looks to be a great year to be a Beaver linebacker. Hopefully, that leads to the same success on the field that it did in 2000, 2006, and 2007.