Yesterday, I made some bold (or insane, depending on your perspective) predictions about the the Beavers’ 2014 campaign. Several were made with orange-colored glasses on, because honestly, it’s hard to be objective at times, especially when a new season approaching.
So here’s a glasses-off look at five things that concern me about the Beavers this year. (In no particular order)
1. Isaac Seumalo’s health. The junior is OSU’s best returning lineman, and is one of the tops in the country. He’s likely a high NFL pick in 2015. But right now, Seumalo is recovering from offseason surgery and could miss several games. Anything more than that would be a huge blow to the Beavers’ of-line which is already dealing with having to replace three starters from last season. His talent and leadership is greatly needed.
2. Will the running game be more emphasized? Coach Riley always preaches the importance of a balanced offense. But last season, the Beavers’ offense was anything but. In fact, at times it seemed like running game was a downright afterthought. The crazy thing? The Beavers ran the ball with authority during their final two games of the season. So will they be more committed to running the ball?
3. The other corner. Steven Nelson had a strong first season for the Beavers, and is primed to enjoy more success this year. He’s already receiving a lot of preseason attention. What’s unknown is who starts other side of him, with the departure of Rashaad Reynolds and Sean Martin. Redshirt freshman Dashon Hunt appears to be front-runner, though. If he’s the guy, how big will his growing pains be? Anyone remember how much Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes struggled at first?
4. Filling Brandin Cook’s void. You don’t lose a guy such as Cooks, arguably the best wide receiver in school history and one of the best in Pac-12 history, and not miss a beat. Victor Bolden should do well, but who else will step up? Richard Mullaney struggled with injuries and Malik Gilmore with consistency last season. Bolden is probably feeling pressure enough as it is, so it’s crucial that other WRs make plays.
5. How much influence will Garrett have? So far, the verdict on new offensive coordinator John Garrett is that he’s a much-needed breath of fresh air. But how much control and freedom will he have once the games are played? It’s no secret that Riley is very hands-on when it comes to the offense. And it’s debatable whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Either way, Garrett deserves a chance to roll the dice his way.
What are your biggest concerns about the Beavers heading into this season? Besides the return of “Crank it like a Chainsaw?” (RW)