Injuries are a part of sports. They happen to players on every team, every season. But while all teams have deal with injuries, some are able to overcome them a lot easier than other teams because of their depth.
Unfortunately, Oregon State isn’t one of those programs, and this season is a painful (pun intended) reminder of that. Injuries to multiple offensive and defensive lineman have proved to be costly — and turned what was a promising season into a disappointing one.
For the longest time, the Beavers were able to avoid major injuries. But if you think about it, what would’ve happened if Jonathan Smith or Steven Jackson were seriously hurt? Simply put, the Beavers would’ve been screwed.
But in recent years, the Beavers have suffered major losses (James Rodgers, Sean Mannion, Isaac Seumalo — just to name a few), and it’s finally hitting home: OSU can’t overcome injuries well.
Hopefully, the majority of Beaver fans realize this, but it’s still a tough to accept, especially when the team down south has been dealt some big losses and are cruising along, but again, Oregon is one of those teams that has an easier time compensating.
So what can OSU do?
First of all, it needs to be able to recruit better. The Beavers are never going to be able to land classes of all 5- and 4-star recruits. But they should be able to land more four stars, and at the very least, not have to rely on walk-ons as much as they have in the past. But to do this, Mike Riley needs to make some hard choices.
While other schools can get away having coaches who aren’t effective recruiters, Oregon State can’t. Like I’ve stressed before, the Beavers need an “All hands on deck” approach when it comes to recruiting. If a coach isn’t pulling his weight on the recruiting trail, he needs to go, even if he’s a good coach. And if for some reason, he’s not getting it done on the field either, well, it’s a no brainer. For example, having a full time coordinator for Special Teams, a position that has only TWO full-time positions, is a very expensive position for someone that is not an ace recruiter.
However, this is easier said than done. Riley is extremely loyal to his assistants, so outside of one of his assistants committing a felony or leaving for another job, it probably won’t happen, unless Bob DeCarolis was to step in and force changes. However, that doesn’t seem likely.
The other option is to make tweaks to schemes to compensate for injuries. A perfect example, since the OSU offensive line is banged up, why not run plays that roll Mannion? Or use the fly sweep. The bottom line is that adjustments have to be made when injuries occur. It’s sort of like the “fitting a square peg in a round hole” analogy.
Sadly, it doesn’t appear as if OSU is going to make changes in either of these areas anytime soon — it’s another harsh reality of the plight the program finds itself in these days… (RW)