Monthly Archives: April 2015

Orange & Black Draft Preview

This no doubt is one of many previews you’ll read this week about the NFL draft — and which Oregon State players will get drafted. So I tried to come up with a different-ish headline, and I’ll keep this quick. The draft runs tomorrow through Saturday.

Will be drafted
Steven Nelson, CB: The JUCO corner lived up to the hype during his two years in Corvallis. Despite his smallish stature, he emerged as one of the Beavers’ better lockdown corners in recent years, and showed a good nose for the ball, especially his junior season. That said, I think he’ll be rewarded by being the highest-picked OSU player. My Guess: 2nd Round.

Sean Mannion, QB: Coming off some impressive showings at draft events, the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer’s stock has soared. Some pundits rank him as the third best QB in the draft because of his familiarity running a pro-style offense and ability to make all the throws. He could be a steal, especially if drafted by a team that can groom him. My Guess: 3-4 rounds.

Has a good shot
Obum Gwachum, DE/LB: What a difference a position change can make. Gwachum, who toiled at WR the first three years of his career, In his lone season (2014) at defense end, he used his explosive athleticism and solid speed to record  28 tackles, 5.5 for loss, and four sacks. His physical makeup and high upside could be intriguing later in the draft. My Guess: 6th round.

Dylan Wynn, DE/FB (?): There’s no questioning Wynn’s high motor and heart. Plus, he did a lot of little (but important) things that didn’t show up in the stat lines. There are questions surrounding his athleticism and size, but that didn’t stop at least one team from looking at him at full back. If a team takes Wynn, it will have a steal on its hands. My Guess: 7th round.

On the fence:
Ryan Murphy, S:  He might have had a disappointing senior season, but Murphy is an excellent athlete with good size — who has showed the ability to be a ball-hawking playmaker from the safety position. That said, teams no doubt noticed the drop in production from Murphy this past year, which is a stock killer. My Guess: Undrafted free agent.

Longshots:
Linebackers Michael Doctor and DJ Alexander. Both are undersized and battled serious injuries at times during their careers. They have good athleticism and decent speed, but probably not enough to get drafted. My Guess: Undrafted.

What do you think? How will ex-OSU players fare in this week’s NFL draft? (RW)

Don’t Sleep On Marcus McMaryion

This spring there were very few story lines as well publicized than the Quarterback battle at Oregon State.  What started out as a seven headed monster with, what many believed, a clear favorite in Luke Del Rio ended in a battle between Nick Mitchell and Seth Collins for the starting role, the transfer of Del Rio and position changes for Brent VanderVeen (who we will write about shortly) and Tanner Sanders.

A name that largely went unnoticed, or even unmentioned, for most of the winter and spring was Marcus McMaryion.  The Redshirt-Freshman from Dinuba, California was an interesting prospect when initially brought in by Mike Riley.  While he thought of himself as a passer who can run, his speed was not something to be ignored.  Marcus threw for over 6,000 yards in High School, and as a Junior, went 11 games as a starter before throwing his first interception.

Ultimately, Marcus was the odd man out at the end of the Andersen era, to the point that some inside the program thought he should transfer. Fortunately for OSU, Marcus stayed and worked hard under new coach Gary Andersen, offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin and reigning National Quarterback Coach of the Year Kevin McGiven.  A noted hard worker with a lot of drive, Marcus continued to grind and continued to improve.  While not the tallest QB, he has a quick release, a strong arm and is extremely athletic.

The reality is, for Oregon State fans, the days of one guy playing every game may be over. Utah State had to be successful with four quarterbacks and as we have seen, you are better off having a Canfield and Moevao situation where you have two Pac-12 caliber quarterbacks, than you are having one player that is infinitely better than everyone else so their need to be ready every week is literally what your season hinges on (see the 2013 ducks).

The new Beaver offense will rely on more physical play by the QB’s and the ability to run option as well as sit in the pocket.  Marcus showed the ability to do both in the spring game and really made the most of his hard work.  I don’t know if he will start, Nick and Seth did some pretty great things this spring, but I do know that Oregon State should be very excited about Marcus and what he brings to the team.  He is a great athlete, a hard worker and is someone that I am confident could win some games for OSU if he is asked to.

This year will be more than exciting and there are a heck of a lot of things to be nervous and anxious about.  The season cannot get here fast enough –  Go Beavers!

Reser Stadium, home of the Oregon State Beavers

Change is Good, but does it mean Wins?

A change had to be made. The program was growing stale and the fan base restless. After Mike Riley left for Nebraska, Bobby DeCarolis swung for the fences and coaxed Gary Andersen away from Wisconsin — signaling a big change for OSU athletics in general. The Beavers are ready to play with the big boys.

But while the early results are encouraging (more urgency, more contact in practices, and recruiting more physically-ready players), much of Beaver Nation needs to stop proclaiming ( sometimes blindly) that everything Andersen does is better than Mike Riley — and that Andersen will win more games.

Here’s three assumptions about Andersen vs. Riley that are quite frankly annoying.

1. Spread will cure OSU’s offensive woes. Sure, it might be more fast-paced and exciting than the pro style offense is. However, Pac-12 teams will be ready for the Beavers’ new offense, as every team, but Stanford, runs some variation of spread. Gone is the advantage that the pro-style offense gave OSU… that teams didn’t prepare for it on a week-to-week basis. When in synch, Riley’s offense was a sight to behold and downright hard to stop. With a new QB, players adjusting to a new offense, and opponents knowing the spread better, there’s a good chance OSU’s offense will struggle at times this season .

2. Andersen & Co. will do better recruiting. When fans point out that new coaching staff is going after and offering more elite prospects than Riley’s staff did, I have to laugh, LOUDLY. Riley offered plenty of A-list recruits. But him and his staff were realistic and didn’t spend a lot of time on athletes they knew were unlikely to visit, much less commit to OSU. They understood the advantages and challenges of recruiting to Corvallis. Andersen’s staff has energy and momentum, especially in Florida. But what happens when it wears off? Can they dig in? That remains to be seen. Either way, don’t expect an influx of 4- and 5-star recruits all of sudden.

3. More close knit. This is the one that gets me the most. How soon fans forget that the family atmosphere that Riley and his staff cultivated was highly revered. There were countless stories from players’ parents to bus drivers about the culture in Corvallis. Heck, even the most cynical of journalists wrote about the Beavers’ family atmosphere — and how refreshing and rare it was in this day and age of college athletics. Speaking of the media, I know some players have said it feels more like family these days, but you know what, coach speak isn’t limited to just coaches. Players aren’t going to come out and say something isn’t as good under a new coaching staff.

The bottom line is that it’s shocking and disappointing how quick some fans are to rip on Riley now that he’s gone. Like nothing he did was good enough. To them, I say: Do you remember what it was like before Riley came to OSU? When Dennis Erickson left? Both times, Riley came in and gave OSU football and its followers hope. He built solid foundations, molded well-rounded student athletes, and did it all the right way. In short, Riley did far more good for OSU, than harm. So why all the bemoaning?

Look, I am excited for a new era of Beavers football. But I’m not ready to anoint Andersen and Co. as saviors. I believe it takes a special kind of coaching staff to understand and embrace OSU/Corvallis — and then win, thrive, and sustain it all. So while I like the energy and excitement Andersen and his staff have brought to the program, I’m taking a “wait-and-see” approach. Change can be good, but does it always work that way? (RW)

Spring Football: Success beyond the numbers

Having attended the Spring Game, here are a few observations. (For more information, there is a lot of good conversation over on Pure Orange and BeaverBlitz.)

1. Fun is the word
This spring game was fun. It wasn’t just the 12,000+ fans or the exciting new offense, but also the little things. Letting offensive players play defense, dance contests, scoring celebrations and choreographed routines, and the like all led to A LOT of fun. This is not just important to the fans who came to watch, but more importantly to the handful of recruits who attended the game. Everything you do as a team, when it comes to recruiting, is to try and send the message that “You, Mr. Great Future Beaver, really WANT to come to OSU. You don’t want to miss out on this!”

As a program that has a vision of excellence, everything you do has to convey that you are offering kids an opportunity to be a part of something great.  From the release of the new VFC renderings to turf angles in the endzone, the coaches, players, and administration did a great job showing those players that OSU is a fun place to be — and that you will come here and work hard and play hard.

2. Don’t read too much into the results of this game.
There should be no hand wringing or big celebrations about what happened this Saturday in terms of its reflection on the fall. Outside of showing you the massive overhaul of the offense and defense, you by and large had the ones going against the twos, players playing out of position, and an all-star game type atmosphere consisting of fun and games. The defense didn’t blitz or even change formations, and the offense showed about 1/10th of what it can do.

There were great, fun plays, but this was not an overly real game-day experience. It was a legit scrimmage with limited wrinkles. I hear people getting excited about player “A”” or lamenting defensive stand “B” and I want to say, “Don’t worry or get too excited.” We have playmakers for sure. We have a team that can win some games, and coaches who can maybe steal a few more wins than we should expect…

But when it comes game time, there is going to be a lot more to worry about, and don’t be surprised if the offense struggles more and the defense looks a heck of a lot more stout.

3. OSU is addressing the shortfalls of the past
One needs to only look at how the offensive line moved around or see the weights of players who are in the middle of their transformations, to realize that this strength and conditioning staff is a step up. I loved Coach Miller, but Coach Simon is a superstar in his industry and he is going to get more out of our players than we have in the past.

This will just be one of the noticeable differences, but as the players work and get stronger, you are going to see a lot of strides made and you are going to notice that some of these players are a heck of a lot better than you thought a year ago.

These “little” things that are not about Xs and Os are what’s going to separate OSU from its competition. OSU is working harder than in the past, but also smarter — and that smarter is going to be the biggest difference for this team!

 

It is OK to hate duck baseball. Really.

As we get into the swing of April, I am reminded of all the great things about spring in Oregon.  The flowering cherries, daffodils and dogwoods are out in their glory, the weather starts to have sun breaks in the rain, the days get longer, and the air feels fresher. It is also when Oregon State’s most successful major program in school history takes the field. I feel confident in saying that as no other major athletic team, to my knowledge, has two national championships.

It is also when I have to drive by that half-empty grave yard of a stadium called PK Park on my way to and from work. It is like driving by a big green and yellow middle finger daily. Duck baseball is the epitome of the part of the University of Broken Promises that I have the biggest issue with. There are amazing people that work at the big Yellow Toilet Seat, and players in all sports that are such good guys I would let my daughters marry them. In my time in Eugene, I have built a healthy respect for some of the people at Oregon, even though I would never tell them that. Heck, even one in every 43K fans I meet is a great fan (I am fortunate enough to work with… well, probably all of them. Three of whom may read this blog. So Sean, Ryan, and Matt, you are the three that come to mind).

But as a reasonably hateful Beaver fan, someone with a very strong petty streak, and a decade of dealing with being a Beaver in enemy territory, I think we all can embrace one simple fact:

Duck baseball is here because the the duck athletic department was so vain and, oddly for a program with so much recent success across the board, insecure.

They couldn’t handle the whole state being unified in appreciating an OSU sport. So they used their unprecedented resources to build an amazing stadium, hire a top tier coach, and craft some goofy uniforms while bringing back baseball to Eugene. And to their credit, they bought some early success.

Unfortunately, the whole baseball deal is forced on a community that doesn’t care. The University of Oregon is a football powerhouse, with a solid basketball team. More fans are into spring practice than spring fever. They have the league’s worst attendance for their games and this season is not going how a team picked to be one of the premier teams in the conference was supposed to. Now they could show up and sweep the Beavers and I would feel pretty silly. At least about making fun of the duck’s season.

I will never feel silly about making fun of the University of Oregon having baseball though. It arguably competes with their most successful program (track) and has its roots in the same mentality and fan-boy attitude that makes a soon to be 40-year old start a blog so that he can equate his rival school and their teams with crappy candy. You see, I recognize how shady and terrible their whole baseball fiasco is because I see myself in it.

It is the same mentality that had a young Peter Osborne put a car in neutral and push it into a fire zone, then anonymously call a tow truck — all because the operator of said vehicle had the nerve to say go ducks to him after a duck victory in the 1999 Civil War. Oh yeah, and in Eugene of all places! By the Rock N’Rodeo! Oh the humanity…

The only difference between what I did, still do, and what the ducks, or more appropriately Pat Kilkinney did, is that I am just a jerk fan. They are a school, and their decisions, for the most part, are meant to be made in order to better the lives of their student athletes. All the wrestlers from their storied, Olympian-generating wrestling program, as well as the huge number of local, Oregon high school kids that used wrestling to get into school were left holding the bag. Instead, they have an expensive program, with premium-salaried coaches, playing in front of a half-empty $20 million stadium, in one of the highest property tax areas of the city.

So yes, I find the Civil War between Oregon State and Oregon baseball to be particularly feisty because it represents one of the silliest moments in the rivalry’s history for any sport. I for one hope the Beavers sweep the ducks at PK Park amidst a sea of orange in the stands. The Beavers have their own issues, so it is definitely not a slam dunk that they will win the series or even a game, but for the sake of the rivalry and all it means, I would be happy with some big, big wins for the Beavs.

Go Beavers!  Beat the ducks!

Pondering Next Year’s Lineup

Great couple days for the OSU men’s basketball team. Touted recruit Derrick Bruce arrived on campus for spring term, deciding to finish high school early and enroll at Oregon State. Then Daniel Gomis announced he’s returning for one more season, despite being able to graduate this term.

Bruce being on campus already is huge. He already was being viewed as the true point guard the Beavers have lacked since Ricky Claitt, and certainly the best scoring one since Gary Payton. Now he’s got extra time to get stronger, learn the system, build chemistry with his teammates, and most importantly, get used to college life. By doing so, if he is half as good as the hype, Bruce should position himself for a lot of minutes, if not a starting position.

Meanwhile, while the numbers might not show it, having Gomis another year is a big deal as well. He made a lot of strides last season under the new coaching staff. He will never be an offensive stalwart, but he has enough athleticism, that with another year of coaching, he could should be more effective on that end of the floor. It helps he’s a pretty good free-throw shooter. And last but not least, he could be a force on defense.

That said, I thought it would be fun to speculate on next season’s starting lineup by throwing out several scenarios. I think the only players who are locks to start are Gary Payton II and Gomis. I also have faith that Victor Robbins will be back. So with that in mind, here are five lineups that intrigue me.

Lineup 1
W – Malcolm Duvivier: Played admirably at PG last season; is a strong athlete; isn’t afraid to take shots.
W – Stephen Thompson Jr.: From all reports, Thompson is an elite scorer who can create his own shot. The Beavers were sorely lacking this last year, so I think he will start as a true freshman.
W – Gary Payton II: Glue of the team, especially on defense; also could flourish more offensively with players who can take pressure off him.
P – Tres Tinkle: All-around talent, but also probably the closest the Beavers will have to “true” 4-type player.
P- Daniel Gomis: Is OSU’s most polished and game-tested big man; should continue to improve; could see more easy basket opportunities with more scorers around him.

Bench: Langston Morris-Walker, Olaf Schaftenaar, Jarmal Reid, Derrick Bruce, Victor Robbins

Notes: This lineup would be a nice blend of experience and youth, as well as offense and defense. But it also features two true freshman, and would be a smaller lineup.

Lineup 2
W – Duviver
W – Thompson
W – Payton II
P – Reid: Arguably the Beavers’ most improved player last season; very aggressive; soft touch around basket.
P – Gomis

Bench: Morris-Walker, Schaftenaar, Bruce, Tinkle, Robbins

Notes: This lineup would be very experienced, but could struggle to score at times. Would be physical though and have surprising athleticism

Lineup 3
W – Bruce: Arriving on campus gives him a head start and if he’s as good as advertised, his talent would be hard to keep off the floor.
W – Thompson
W – Payton II
P – Tinkle
P – Gomis

Bench: Duvivier (What a sixth man he’d be), Tinkle, Morris-Walker; Schaftenaar, Reid, Bruce, Robbins

Notes: This lineup would be very athletic and could run the floor well. Also could have a lot of offensive firepower. But there could be growing pains (a.k.a turnovers) due to three freshmen.

Lineup 4
W – Bruce
W – Duvivier
W – Payton II
P –  Tinkle
P – Gomis

Bench: Thompson, Morris-Walker, Schaftenaar, Reid, Robbins

Notes: This lineup would be tough defensively and guard-centric. Thompson would be the firepower off the bench. But can the Beavers afford to having him come off the bench?

Lineup 5
W – Duviver
W – Morris-Walker: Athletic, good defender, hustles, and knows the system
W – Payton II
P – Reid
P – Gomis

Bench: Thompson, Tinkle, Schaftenaar, Bruce, Robbins

Notes: The veteran squad that knows how to play together. However, this team could be offensively challenged. Good thing is, the bench could provide a boost.

There’s probably a lot more fun combinations I could’ve put out there. Also, lot could change between now and the season, so who knows how things will play out. But it’s fun and exciting to think about until then.

You might have noticed that Schaftenaar isn’t in any of the lineups I put together. The honest truth is I am not sure he will ever be comfortable at the “4.” Also, he was exposed badly at times last season and was streaky most of the year. He seems like a great situational player at this point. That said, he could easily prove me wrong. Like Gomis, another year under Tinkle and Co. could pay off big for him.

What really jumps out at me is how much depth the Beavers will have compared to last season. It’s a complete 180 — and I didn’t even mention Cheikh N’Diaye and incoming freshmen Drew Eubanks and Gligoride Rankocevic, even though I think the latter two will redshirt. However, if either of them can contribute right away, well, that’s just gravy.

Last but not least, there’s Noah Togiai, an OSU football commit, who also was three-star hoops recruit. He plans to play both sports for the Beavers, for now. Because he might not be able to commit to two sports past this season, Togiai probably won’t redshirt. But you know what, he put up great numbers his senior season, so I think he could be the sleeper of the newcomers.

Whew, that was a lot! What do you think? What do you think will be the Beavers’ starting lineup in 2015-16? What other lineups intrigue you? (RW)

Recruit Focus: Jacob Capra

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.

Jacob Capra

CURRENT RIVALS RANKING: 3 star (5.6)
PROJECTED FINAL RIVALS RANKING: 4
 Star (5.8)
HT: 6-5
WT: 270
POS: Offensive Guard
HOMETOWN: Auburn, California
OTHER OFFERS: Arizona, Arizona State, California, Kansas, Nevada, ducks, San Jose State, UCLA, Utah, Washington, Washington State
CHANCE OF BEING A BEAVER: 25%

Hudl Profile

Position The Official Candy Report Sees this player at: Offensive Guard
What Beaver this player reminds us of: Andy Levitre

STRENGTHS
– Super athletic with frame to add some solid weight
– Very physical player
– Great techinique, locks on with hands and assaults with his helmet
– Amazing leg drive
– Strong upper body with aggressive and strong hands
– Great at finishing blocks
– Fast enough for pulling and blocking at second level
– Solid reach blocking and is athletic enough to catch up with his feet on blocks
– Aggressive or ‘Nasty’ streak, plays physically through the whistle

QUESTIONS
– Can OSU sign him?
– Little pass blocking film

SUMMARY:
Despite being an offensive lineman (i.e. my wheelhouse), I avoided doing a focus on Capra because, honestly, I thought OSU had no shot at him.  Despite his rather modest Rivals 3-star ranking, Capra is an elite lineman who will go wherever he wants.  Already having offers from 10 Big 5 Schools, Capra is going to be a cornerstone athlete in any class he joins.

Just a few minutes of watching his Junior Highlights, you can see why.  Simply put, he dominates his opponents.  I don’t know about his level of competition, but you cannot deny his violence at the point of attack, how he blocks through the defender and how he gets them on the ground, usually on their backs or in a crumpled heap.  At 6’5″ he has the frame to comfortably hold 300 pounds while not losing his speed and ability to get to the second level.  In the new read option scheme OSU will employ, he is the perfect guard because he is either going to pull or drive his defender into the linebackers on a double team.

Watching Jacob, you can see solid training and coaching.  He is making contact with his hands, driving his hips and his head into the defender and working to get them on their heels and then on their backs.  There are countless plays where he makes contact and there is a stalemate, but then with his size and strength he gets their shoulders up and back or just down and they end up on the ground. I note his hand strength, not because I have seen him do hand exercises at the hand strength olympics, but because he gets movement on defenders after contact.  Meaning post punch.  That tends to indicate strong hands and forearms as well as general power.  He is similar to a Mantis Shrimp in that way.

His film is eerily similar to Fred Ulu-Perry in terms of physicality and domination, a solid 2015 recruit who OSU coveted.  Fred went to UCLA unfortunately, but hopefully this new staff and new offensive line coach TJ Woods can make an impact.  While he may end up more akin to Gavin Andrews in terms of size and aggression, I compared him to Levitre because of his technique and his potential to be even better than anyone expects.  I rarely gush like this over a recruit, but Capra recently visited OSU and thus I think our shots are a smidge better. If he is still talking about us in September and October, I will be doing a dance of joy. Capra is my number one offensive lineman this recruiting cycle, and there are some good ones out there.

Silly Shot In The Dark Guess
My silly, shot-in-the dark guess is that should Jacob Capra come to OSU he has the potential to be a 3-4 year starter.  I think he will redshirt as he is right around 270, but I would not be shocked if he jumped up another then or so pounds and was fighting for a starting spot day one.  Like Sean Harlow he has the tools and the ability to, and with Andrews and Mitchell graduating after this year, there might be a spot for him.