Monthly Archives: March 2015

Something in the Air

As the weather continues to elevate to a 10 on the awesome scale, we also are preparing for part two of the spring practices. As a frequent viewer of message boards, one thing that is not getting a lot of chatter right now is the impact that this spring can have on recruiting. Currently, there are no official visits set up for the Beavers, but spring practice, when school is in session, is a great time to get players in to see the program.

This year, it is an even bigger draw because of the excitement of practice. As a frequent practice attendee in the past, I loved seeing the players work on technique and run through plays, but there was not a ton of excitement in practice. It was about learning and getting better, but the past staff kept things pretty calm.

Under Coach Andersen, there is excitement. Lots of competition, lots of full speed plays, and honestly, lots of intra-squad skirmishes that are building excitement. With Andersen’s mantra of there always being a winner and a loser in every drill, players are working hard to make sure they win every rep. To the casual or discerning fan, this can be exciting because, honestly, it looks as much like football as it does like practice.

So as the weather hangs around 70 degrees and the sun shines down on Prothro Field and Reser Stadium, I hope we hear of potential Beavers visiting regularly. There is a lot of buzz around the program now.  ickets are flying off the shelves so to speak, even at increased prices, and the Spring Game looks to be a big hit this year. Like that Field of Dreams saying, “If you build it, they will come…” OSU is building a lot right now, and people are starting to take notice. It will only be a matter of time before they arrive.

Recruit Focus: Jordan Wilson

All information in this post is courtesy of  BeaverBlitz and Hudl.  Again, I highly recommend both of these sites for the best and latest information on Beaver Football recruiting.

All reviews are just MY OPINION, and need to be taken as such. The coaches know more than me, understand the team’s needs better than I do, and most likely differ with my opinions. I am just doing this for fun.

Jordan Wilson

CURRENT RIVALS RANKING: 3 star (5.5)
PROJECTED FINAL RIVALS RANKING:
3 Star (5.7)
HT: 6-5
WT: 215
POS: Tight end/defensive end
HOMETOWN: Nashville, Tennessee
OTHER OFFERS: Arkansas State, Florida Atlantic, Illinois, Louisville, Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, NC State, Ohio, Western Kentucky
CHANCE OF BEING A BEAVER: 35%

Hudl Profile

Position The Official Candy Report Sees this player at: Defensive end
What Beaver this player reminds us of: Obum Gwatcham

STRENGTHS
– Huge, athletic frame
– Very physical player
– Deceptive speed
– Great use of hands
– Strong upper body

QUESTIONS
– No film at projected position
– Pretty light for his height

SUMMARY:
It is not often that the state of Tennessee gets much interest from Oregon State, but Montgomery Bell Academy athlete Jordan Wilson might be too good to pass up. Listed as an athlete, most of his film is of him playing tight end. That being said, the similarities to former Beaver Obum Gwatcham are pretty evident. Physically, he is a huge man, who plays stronger and  with a ferocity that belies his 215 pounds.

While his highlight film is short and has no defensive footage, I can only assume that there was more to the films that Coach Andersen and his staff saw. That being said, if you want to see a good example of why we should be excited about Jordan, watch his junior highlight film at the 0:38 second mark. As soon as he gets the ball, he takes off down field. While he may not look like he is running fast, his long stride eats up yards in a hurry. He is probably not a great 40-yard dash runner, but when he is going, I can see him being able to track down runners and quarterbacks pretty well.

He also has a huge wing span, so getting his hands up in passing lanes, getting separation, and getting leverage should be solid weapons for him. The other side is that he is a physical player. Reviewing that highlight video, or his mid-season highlights, show a solid blocker who gets after players and uses his natural gifts to take advantage of opponents.

The last thing I will say is while Tennessee doesn’t get the same press as Florida or Texas for talent, it is a talent-rich state. Montgomery Bell Academy is one of the better schools in the state, and is in the top division. So these highlights we are seeing are against some of the better teams in the the state. I think that converting Jordan to defensive end is the right thing to do, but I would not expect him to be on the two-deep the day he steps foot on campus. His star ranking will probably reflect this. That being said, I am fairly confident that should Wilson come to Oregon State, before he leaves, we will all be pretty stoked he was a Beaver. His potential is off the charts and you just don’t pass on athletic, 6-5 players who are productive at the top level of a talent-rich state.

I predict other schools will see the same things — and I expect his recruitment to blow up. I am not hopeful that OSU lands him, but it would be amazing if they did. A great school and state to get inroads in for our program. Wilson will have plenty of suitors so the Beaver coaches have their work cut out for them.

Silly Shot In The Dark Guess
My silly, shot-in-the dark guess is that should Jordan Wilson come to Oregon State, he has the potential to be a 3-year starter at defensive end. A redshirt year will be very important to help him add a few pounds, get stronger and more explosive, and learn the position. My guess is that he could come in, make some noise on scout team early, and then all the sudden his redshirt freshman year be that guy you hear about in practice all the time. From what I have heard, he would come prepared to work for sure.

Why I Love College Football

With the clamoring about health issues around the sport because of several early retirements  by marquee players in the NFL, football is seemingly under siege.  As someone that played football, in some form or another, for 13 years, I can validate that those health concerns are valid.  As a recipient of two knee surgeries, the proud owner of two arthritic shoulders, two arthritic knees, chronic foot pain, some life long effects from concussions, and a skewed view on healthy eating, I can tell you that life after football can be difficult physically.

And yet, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

First of all, NFL careers are unnatural. Many players play longer in the NFL than they did all other levels of football combined. That is akin to fighting in a premier MMA league 20 times a year for a decade, or in today’s world, boxing twice a year.*  If you participate in any sport that long, you are bound to have physical issues — and life long ramifications from the damage you put your body through. Which is why I am more of a college football fan.  Sure, you still get the injuries and there is still the danger, but you also are young and growing — and the nature of the game is different.

More importantly, what I love about football is that it can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. If you want to go drink, watch football, and yell at the refs and bitch about your line, you can do that — and you are most likely right.  A casual glance from 3,000 feet will give you a good barometer of how the game is going, even though the results of most games can be boiled down to just six plays.

You can also get super granular and look at how a blown route forced the QB to look to a different option and take two seconds longer to find an opening in the defense leading to a sack. You can yell at the line, but the original breakdown in the play could have been the equivalent of this type of communication error. There are times when the perfect play call is killed by a blocker slipping and falling down. Or an instance where you have your defense in the right spot, but one player goes behind a block instead of taking it on, and it turns into a huge gain for the opponent.

Ultimately, football is amazing because it can be everything to everyone. A game where two sets of coaches choreograph 11 players at a time for a single goal 180 times in a game is the height of physicality and strategy. It takes brains to coach and play football, not just brawn. It takes commitment, discipline, and the adaption of a player’s neuromuscular patterning to make the difficult seem natural, in order to succeed. College football for all its money, prestige, publicity and, in many cases, scandalous nature, is still the best blend of a quality product and the purity of supporting your school and your town. We root for something we are a part of.

While the NFL basically tries to reinvent ways to screw their fans (tax-sponsored stadiums, blackout dates, moving teams to new cities on a whim, etc.) college football is still for the most part a collection of your peers at your university playing an exciting game. You may see a pro player here or there or be invited to a party with your famous neighbor, but with college football, you have lab partners, pick-up basketball teammates, study group members, and social group members playing on your school’s field every week. They eat with you, party with you, and in some cases live with you. Which is why people like Tiki Barber, who spent years in the NFL and played at the highest level winning multiple championships, still lives and dies by what Virginia, his alma-mater, does in any sport. It is why players come back for recruiting dinners and why players tweet photos of their new Beavers gear.

College football is a community. It is an amazing game played by people who are a part of your life, who are living in your old home, and are going to your old classes. They may end up playing for multiple NFL teams, but once a Beaver, always a Beaver.

That is what I love, and that is why I cannot wait for this new chapter in OSU history.  There is a lot to be excited for next week and beyond, but mostly, I am just super excited to cheer for my favorite team in my favorite sport.  The bucketful of hope that Coach Andersen has brought doesn’t hurt either…

GO BEAVERS!

* I am not saying that boxing twice a year is more difficult than other sports. I am just poking fun at how watered down and pathetic boxing has gotten — to the point that premier boxers never box each other and rarely box in general.

The Final Three Weeks

As we enter into finals week and Spring Break, it is important

1. The defense will dominate:
Towards the end of the first two weeks, the prevailing story line was that of the quarterback competition and the new offense.  In the final scrimmage, the Beavers were able to move the ball on the ground pretty well.  Once they get back, the kid gloves will be off and OSU will be installing their blitz packages. Having worked mostly on installing the base system, changing the mentality of the defense and teaching the desired techniques, the Beaver coaching staff took the first two weeks of spring ball to build up the foundation of how they will play defense.

Now they will start adding the wrinkles that are going to ratchet up the pressure on opposing offenses.  This will really change the whole dynamic of the practices and force the offense to perfect their calls, recognize disguised coverages and prepare for an aggressive onslaught.

EXPECTATION: Honestly, I think the next three weeks of practice will really establish the pecking orders of this team.  The aggressive defense will really force the offense to prepare quickly. One advantage to so much live competition is you get to see players as they will be in games.  Receivers will need to take advantages of mismatches and be spot on perfect in their route running to take advantage of gaps due to blitzing.  Linemen will need to be able to read the defense and not get fooled by blitzes or delayed blitzes.  Quarterbacks will need to be able to differentiate between real coverages and disguised coverages and not lock on targets in their pre-snap reads. Basically an aggressive and attacking defense will help the people that are ready to produce on offense shine.

2. The QB competition will be over quickly:
While it may not be announced quickly, my guess is that as the defensive pressure mounts, it will help further separate who is ready to start and who is not.  There will be no surprises about who can do what anymore and now it is going to be about handling a heavier burden and being able to see through disguised coverages and play through pressure. I am not saying that a starter will be announced at the end of week three, but i do think that those that attend practice will find it easier and easier to guess who the starter will be by their play and their reps.

EXPECTATION:Honestly, I expect that the last week of practice will be with a definitive first, second and third uint.  Having not seen more than a few clips and heard more than a few whispers I cannot say who I think will start, but my guess is whoever shows they can do everything (head, arm and feet) the best will be the starter. You don’t need to be the fastest or have the best arm, but you need to be the most reliable in all three.

3. The secondary will be the strongest unit on the team:
While most of the talk this spring has been on the QB competition and the live contact in practice, one item that sticks out to me is the interceptions.  With returning contributors Justin Strong, Cyril Noland-Lewis and Larry Scott, the Beavers have some talent and experience to build on.  Add the physical talents of Dashon Hunt, Dwayne Williams, Charles Okonkwo and Brandon Arnold and you have a lot to be excited about in this unit.

The other item that gets very little press is the addition of Coach Odum.  While at SMU he was responsible for getting perennially ranked secondaries coached up and ready to play.  SMU was often in the top twenty in interceptions nationally during his tenure there and in years like 2007 where his Utah group finished first in the nation in pass efficiency defense and 2012 where he coached an injury riddled secondary to lead the nation in interceptions returned for touchdowns, tied for third in the nation in total takeaways and second in the nation in fumble recoveries for TD’s.

If our quarterbacks and receivers are not on the same page, this unit can punish them.  There have been numerous interceptions dropped by the defense in the first two weeks. As they shore that up, the offense will have more pressure to move the ball efficiently. I expect big things from this unit in 2015 and that starts with the rest of Spring Practice.

EXPECTATION: I am going to be hard on this group this year as they develop, but the receivers are going to have their work cut out for them all spring and fall.  This secondary will be in their face, aggressive and resemble the secondaries we have seen at UW or for the ducks in the last few years.  Fast, aggressive, physical and always looking for the big play.  It will be very important that our offense is ready for this in terms of efficiency and protecting the ball.   Playing this unit will only make the offense better.

March Madness Time For OSU Women

What: South Dakota State (24-8) vs. Oregon State (26-4), NCAA Tournament first-round game.
When: 2 p.m., Friday
Where: Gill Coliseum
On the air: ESPN2 and 3; Beaver Radio Network
Series: OSU leads 1-0. The Beavers defeated South Dakota State during the 2004 Paradise Jam Tournament. (Writer’s note: Could not find the score. My apologies.) Beavers assistant coach Mandy Close played on that OSU team.
Notes: OSU is making its seventh NCAA appearance, and is hosting its first-ever NCAA tournament game at Gill. In their previous six NCAA tourney games, the Beavers had a 3-6 record, with their last win coming last year against Middle Tennessee State.

Is there a better way to get over a disappointing (and shocking) first-round exit from the Pac-12 Tournament than hosting an NCAA Tournament game? The OSU women’s team will find out this Friday when they take on the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.

About that loss to Colorado two weeks ago… Sure, it sucked. But it doesn’t take away from arguably the greatest season in school history. The Beavers claimed their first Pac-12 championship, won a school-record 26 games including a 16-2 mark in conference play, finished ranked in top 10 nationally, and led the conference attendance.

Individually, junior Ruth Hamblin was named Pac-12 player of the year, defensive player of the year, and was a All-Pac-12 first team. Joining her on the All-Pac-12 team was junior Jamie Weisner and sophomore Sydney Wiese. Not only did the Beavers’ three first team selections lead the conference, but also marked the most in the season for OSU. And last but not least, coach Scott Rueck was selected Pac-12 coach of the year by both the media and his fellow coaches.

Considering where the program was when Rueck took over, the Beavers’ ongoing turnaround has been remarkable, and this  results are a testament to the hard work and commitment from the players, coaches, and fan base hav

Simply put, this has been a storybook season for Beavers — and the great thing is they aren’t done adding more chapters to that story. They have the talent, depth, chemistry, and coaching to make a serious run in the tourney. That said, here are some keys for Friday’s matchup.

Start and Finish Strong. The Beavers are favorites, but as we all know, anything can happen this time of year. And while they have been adept at going on runs and taking control of close or sluggish games, the Beavers would be best served by leaving no doubt in this game. The Jackrabbits have nothing to lose and if the Beavers come out slow, they could be in trouble. A slow start is what killed them against Colorado.

Establish the Hammer. She may not be focal part of the Beavers’ offense, but Ruth Hamblin is the cog that makes the wheel go. So the Beavers need to get the ball to her often, so she can use her sheer size advantage and get into a rhythm, If that happens, it will open things up for the Beavers’ usually potent perimeter game. However, if Hamblin struggles, it puts pressure on Sydney Wiese and Jamie Weisner.

Play Loose. Yes, the Beavers want to put behind their early Pac-12 tourney exit, but they shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves. After all, they will be playing in front of the best crowd in the conference and they do have the comfort of having been here before and winning. So they need to treat it like another game, be relaxed, and have fun. If they do that, there’s a good chance things will fall nicely into place.

Congrats on an amazing season Lady Beavers! Lets keep it going with a March Madness run. Go Beavs! (RW)

5 Takeaways From Spring, Part 1

The Beavers wrapped up the first half of Spring Ball last Saturday. The players have this week off for finals and the following one to enjoy spring break. Then they’ll resume for the final half and the Spring Game. Here are five things we learned during the first two weeks of practice.

1. These aren’t your Father’s Beavers. Practices so far under Coach Andersen are a complete 180 from Mike Riley’s, especially in the sense that there’s contact, and a lot of it! The Beavers are expected to be physical, hit hard, and go all out — even if there’s risk of injury. It’s a refreshing change, as several players have commented that it should help the Beavers be more ready early in the season.

2. And there were 3. The biggest question going into Spring Ball was who would replace Sean Mannion. With the slate wiped clean, seven QBs took snaps for the Beavers during the first several days. However, that number was whittled down quickly. Now, the three contenders are Luke Del Rio, Nick Mitchell, and Seth Collins. Meanwhile, Brent Vanderveen and Tanner Sanders have moved ti H-back/tight end. But this is a battle that will rage on into fall camp.

3. QBs who make plays with Feet Wanted. After years of clamoring for for a QB who can extend plays with his feet, Beavers fans will get their wish this season. Seth Collins has some serious wheels, Nick Mitchell can definitely move, and even Luke Del Rio showed a little moxie with his feet this season. The point is OSU quarterbacks are encouraged and expected to be able to use their feet more to make plays. YAY!

4. Under the Radar. Does it seem very little has been said/written about the defense so far? Dang new coaching staff and QB battle! In all seriousness, that’s not a bad thing. Because it allows the defensive players to focus on getting used to a vastly different defensive scheme. Furthermore, flying under the radar has always seemed to play in the Beavers’ favor. Let’s hope the same is true this season as well. Either way, this unit should FLY AROUND.

5. Unsung Leader. Darrell Songy missed all of last season due to suspension. But the sophomore linebacker has wasted no time getting back into the spring of things (pun intended). He’s stood out so far, even garnering praise from Andersen, himself. But more impressively, Songy appears to be the vocal leader the Beavers so desperately need. Not bad for a guy who missed an entire season. He could be primed for a monster year… because he’s always had the talent and size.

So, what are you looking forward to seeing during the latter half of Spring Ball? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Go Beavs… (RW)

What a Season!

Well, Wednesday night’s game certainly wasn’t the ending Beaver Nation was hoping for. But it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Prior to this season, it was clear that depth and offense were going to be challenges. After all, the Beavers only returned seven scholarship players, and lost their top four scorers from last year.

However, they rebounded from that ugly exhibition loss to Western Oregon and shocked everyone by finishing 9-3 in non-conference play. They then won five of their first seven Pac-12 games — earning Coach Tinkle and them national attention. Not to take away from the Beavers’ great defense and clutch shooting, but that hot start helped mask the Beavers’ weaknesses.

Unfortunately, those weaknesses were glaring during the latter half of the season, as fatigued set in and teams figured out how to defend the Beavers. They ended up losing seven of their last eight games, despite having solid leads in most of those games. And Victor Robbins’ suspension only ramified those weaknesses. In addition to being an athletic body, he was the Beavers’ third leading scorer when he was suspended,

But overall, this season was a smashing success for the OSU program — they finished with a winning record (17-14), were dominant at Gill Coliseum (15-2), upset a top-10 team (Arizona on Jan. 11, and were unrecognizable on defense this year — in a good way! They were one of the best defensive teams in the nation.

Along the way, JUCO transfer Gary Payton II emerged as one of the best players in the conference, Malcolm Duvivier got better each game playing out of position at point guard, Jarmal Reid transformed into a completely different player from his first two seasons at OSU, etc.

And what can you say about Coach Tinkle and his staff that hasn’t already been said? They did a freakin’ amazing job getting maximum effort out of this team and more importantly, enabling the players to believe in themselves. The result? The Beavers made up for their lack of depth and talent by playing smart, within themselves (most of the time), and using relentless hustle. Simply put, they played with heart and passion — and never stopped playing hard, even when they were dead tired.

That’s why this season was just the beginning of what’s to come. The Beavers’ heralded recruiting class should address both of this season’s weaknesses — adding five new players, including scorers such as Stephen Thompson Jr. and Tres Tinkle, should provide immediate dividends. Combine that with the fact the Beavers don’t lose any seniors, and who doesn’t like the Beavers’ chances to be better next season?

It will be fun to see how the increased talent on the roster fosters competition and pushes the returning players. I don’t expect four freshmen starting alongside Payton, but some of the returnees will need to step up their games. Also, it will be interesting to see how the offense changes next season with more options.

If you’re excited, I can only imagine how excited the coaches and players are about the potential of having an even bigger season next year!

So don’t dwell on the late-season slide any longer. Celebrate this season and start looking forward to the 2015-16 season. Because I don’t know about you, but I think Gill will be the place to be… Go Beavs! (RW)

OSU/Colo Preview

What: Colorado (14-16, 7-11 Pac-12) vs. Oregon State (17-13, 8-10), First round of the Pac-12 Tournament
When: 6:10 p.m., Wednesday
Where: MGM Garden Arena, Las Vegas
On the air: Pac-12 Networks and Beaver Sports Radio Network
Series: Colorado leads 10-5.

Not to take away from this season, as the Beavers far exceeded expectations, but they enter the Pac-12 tourney on a bit of downward slide, having lost six of their last seven games. The good news? Their lone win during that stretch came against the Buffaloes on Feb. 12, a 72-58 rout.

Gary Payton II had one of his best games with 24 points, five rebounds, four steals, and seven blocks, while Malcolm Duvivier added 17 points and five assists and Daniel Gomis had 10 points.

And the Beavers will need that kind of balanced effort this time around as well, because it’s the postseason and anything can happen. It also will be important for the Beavers to hold Colorado to a low field goal percentage again. The Buffs shot just 34 percent in the teams’ first matchup.

Update: This report was premature. My apologies for reading into Twitter too much. Lesson learned: This just in: Coach Tinkle has announced his starting lineup for tomorrow’s game — it will be the five walk-ons from Oregon once again. Another classy gesture that rewards the hard work they’ve put into helping build this program. Let’s hope they can play a little better this time around. It would be awesome to see them be successful even if it’s for a minute or two.

Colorado appears to be a favorable first-round opponent for the Beavers. They have the confidence of knowing they’ve beat the Buffs, and at the very least, the game won’t be played at a high altitude (Hey, it does make a difference!) Even so, the Beavers would help themselves a lot if they could build a big lead and not look back, like they did last game.

There’s a lot at stake for the Beavers, still. If they win 2-3 games, that could be enough to get them an NIT bid. How amazing would that be for a team that was picked to finish last in the Pac-12? And if that’s not enough motivation, there’s also the revenge factor. If they beat Colorado, they would face Oregon, who dealt them a heartbreaking 65-62 loss last week.

And who knows, maybe third time the charm for the Beavers against the Ducks… Go Beavs! (RW)

Spring is here, and there is already buzz

As we dive into spring ball, there is already a loud hum around the OSU Beaver program. As I see it, this is an exciting time because of all the newness being spread around like money being passed to recruits by Phil Knight handshakes.  Since I am an ego maniac, I will start with me and my renewed interest.  I never really waned in my fan status, but the last two years were hard for me like everyone because I had lost hope in the program.  What seemed like a program that was close to turning it around as recently as 2012, instead they took two or ten giant steps back. So I look forward to this season as if it was a fat sack of new “Fat Burning” candy ready for me to consume and get those “300 abs” I have heard so much about.

In addition, there is ‘new’ everywhere in Beaver Football. New coaches, new practice uniforms, new offense, new defense and a bunch of new names replacing familiar former Beaver starters.  After a week of Spring Ball, below is a list of areas that we will see new faces, cleverly hidden by helmets and face masks and how they are performing:

1.  Quarterback:
I would look like a moron if I didn’t start here. Four year starter and future NFL draft pick Sean Mannion has left for the NFL after exhausting his eligibility as a Beaver.  In comes…. who knows?  Currently there are seven players vying for what will eventually be a group of three. That group of three will be chosen today, and will give OSU a good look at the types of skills the Beavers want to showcase.  For my money, below are the three QB’s that I think we need to watch for:

  • Jake DelRio: Very polished passer with a plus arm and decent speed.  Has been around the block more than others and played in a few games last year. Is not fast, but is a scrappy runner who is smart with how he picks up yards and extends plays.
  • Nick Mitchell: Natural athlete with a good arm and solid scrambling ability. Is probably the most physically equipped to perform the running and passing plays required for this offense.
  • Seth Collins: The yang to Luke’s Yin with great ability to run and a scrappy throwing ability that could torch teams that are too worried about his feet.

2. Linebacker:
This is an area that to the outside world would be an area of concern.  Fortunately for OSU, there is a lot of playing time returning from a group that graduated three starters. With the retention of a 4-3 formation, OSU will rely on some familiar names to patrol the field.

  • Rommel Mageo: A very tough and very savvy defender, Rommel really shined as a freshman in 2013 coming in for a thin and injured linebacker group.  A true middle linebacker, Rommel is fast enough to play sideline to sideline but is also big and tough enough to take on blockers and stuff the inside.  Rommel has started before and played in most games in some capacity since 2013 so he is someone that will provide experience to this group.
  • Caleb Sasolu: Another fast and aggressive player, Caleb was called on a lot the last two years and should be more than ready to go for the Beavers this fall.
  • Darrell Songy: Boisterous and freakishly athletic, Darrell was missed last year as he sat out for violating team rules. Not just a great player, Songy is also the kind of player that pumps up those around him and can generate momentum, not just ride it.  He will be a key piece in the personality of the defense.

3. Secondary:
Last year was not the year we all envisioned.  With the loss of some four year starters for the Beavers, OSU is going to have to rely heavily on some players that saw time last year in nickel and dime packages, as well as spot base duty. Historically, new secondary coach Derrick Odum has had ball hawking defenses that rank nationally in interceptions.  This secondary is going to resemble the 2012 secondary in the way they play the ball and position themselves to make big, game changing plays.

  • Justin Strong: Honestly, the biggest surprise last year for me.  A great player who is vicious, tenacious and never gives up.  He will thrive under this new defense and will hopefully be the biggest. I expect even more from him this year, as he will have an opportunity to play every down.
  • Cyril Noland-Lewis: Cyril came on strong last year and really has the potential to be a player much like the safeties we have had in the past.  I seem him being a lot like Anthony Watkins, playing big on the run, being able to make plays in the backfield but also being able to cover well.  I really feel like the combo of Noland-Lewis and Strong will be tough to beat.
  • Brandon Arnold: This exciting prospect brings a lot of swagger and athleticism to the defense. Much like Songy, I think Arnold will bring a lot of ability and excitement to the defense.  If they hold true to having a hybrid linebacker/safety position, I can see Arnold fitting in well in this.  While I did say secondary on the title of this section, not just safeties, I think that the safeties are going to be the strength of the secondary. Arnold definitely plays into that thinking

Finally, I think this spring we are already seeing the great work by coach Evan Simon. The physical changes to these players is immense and the up tempo practice style is going to make even more changes.  I look for the team overall to lose weight this spring just practicing at such a high tempo.  In many cases, we are seeing bodies this spring that are in the thinning out phase of their transformations.  Players like Josh MItchell being in the 290’s while they look to get rid of bad weight and then add muscle.  You can already see a difference on the field, but the real changes and magic if you will, will be when they finish the next phase of adding weight to their thinned out and lean bodies.  Coach Simon is an amazing strength coach and come Summer camp we will be amazed at the differences from these few spring practices.

It is an exciting time to follow OSU, and as the Gary Andersen era begins, the reviews are coming in and they are amazing!

Go Beavers!

 

Keeping Perspective

There’s no way around it — last week was frustrating and disappointing for the Oregon State men’s basketball team. The Beavers lost to Stanford and Cal by a combined total of 44 points, despite holding decent leads in both games.

But take a deep breath. 

After all, in your wildest dreams did you expect the Beavers to win 10 games this season? If you did, I’d love to buy you a drink. But here they are entering the Civil War at 17-12, with a chance to finish with a .500 Pac-12 record if they can upset the red-hot Ducks. It’s a daunting challenge, but at least the Beavers will be in the friendly confines of Gill Coliseum

Yes, the last several weeks have been rough, but as a whole, this season has been a huge success for Wayne Tinkle and his squad. Buoyed by a strong defense and the all around play of junior college transfer Gary Payton II, the Beavers have been one of the biggest surprises.

More importantly, there’s excitement and momentum surrounding the program, whether it’s the bevy of great press or the larger crowds filling Gill. And that bodes well for the coming seasons when the Beavers should receive a massive talent upgrade with the arrival of their 2015 recruits, who make up a top-20 class.

In addition to Payton this season, we’ve seen Malcolm Duvivier handle the point guard position admirably,  Jarmal Reid become a solid option down low, and the entire team play unselfishly, maybe even too much so. But when a group plays together as well as the Beavers have (and seem to enjoy each other), that also bodes well for the future.

Right now, the Beavers’ lack of depth has caught up to them. They are exhausted and banged up. And the fact that they lost their top four scorers from last season is showing, as they struggle to score consistently. So it will be interesting to see how they enter the Pac-12 tourney. But they always play hard and to the end.

Here’s hoping the Beavers can get their 18th win tomorrow. That, combined with a few wins in the Pac-12 tourney, could be enough to get them into the NIT. But no matter what happens, though, this has been a heck of a season and has provided a glimpse into what should be a bright future for the Beavers.

Go Beavs! And beat the ducks! (RW)