Monthly Archives: January 2016

2015 Position Review: Defensive Backs

Over the next few weeks, I am going to share my thoughts on each position’s performance last season, as well  take a look at what next year could look like. With a season like 2015, there will be a lot of changes beyond the usual attrition and reloading.

Defensive Backs:
2015 was a renaissance in some ways of the teams of Beaver past.  While many have whispered about the similarities to the Pettibone era for the offense, the defense was definitely something we as Beaver fans thought would look like those tough Rocky Long defenses of the 90’s at Oregon State.  The secondary was going to be a key factor in the season as the Beavers replaced two NFL draft picks as well as losing four starters to graduation.  In addition, the star of the 2013 recruiting class, Dashon Hunt, was forced to retire due to health concerns.

Who would step up across from senior Larry Scott at defensive back?  How well would freshman standout Justin Strong do in his sophomore year?  Who would step up to take over the other safety position?  What about Nickle looks?  Those were the questions coming into 2015 that much of Beaver Nation were asking.

Unfortunately, because of injuries, attrition and changes in defensive coordinators, those questions will still be on the table for 2016.  That doesn’t mean there were not bright spots for the men in black’s 2016 campaign. Early success in the secondary through the first 4 games had one prominent media personality (me) touting secondary coach Derrick Odum as an assistant coach of the year candidate. Through 4 games, OSU had given up only 4 passes of over 20 yards to a wide receiver. Most teams were finding their success on the ground if they found any at all early in the season.

Then came injuries and attrition that would be the theme of 2015 football campaign.  All four players starting at the beginning of the season missed multiple games and by the time we watched an exciting Civil War in Eugene, our starters comprised two former wide receivers and two walk-ons (one was both!). What started as a strength just couldn’t hold up over a grueling season, as injuries to their own and in other positions made covering receivers a long and arduous process.

Fortunately, the season was not without bright spots.  Treston Decoud and Kendall Hill both showed signs of being great players for the Beavers. While Treston lived up to his billing as a lock down and tough minded corner, Kendall showed tenacity and intelligence, improving as the year went on and learning from mistakes.  In fact, I would not be shocked if Kendall, who also has platooned between defense and offense, is not one of our bright spots in 2016.

In addition, you had Charles Okonkwo and Dwayne Williams make their presence known in 2015, each getting starts and each showing a lot of positive moments among some growing pains.  In a year where injuries and suspensions led to a 57 man roster for their last game, all of these players, as well as Candy Report Award winner Devin Chappell all showed signs that they can be a solid group of corners for the Beavers if they can stay healthy and improve.

At safety, there was a lot more of the same. Injuries, inexperience and players that struggled to find their groove.  Yet players like Brandon Arnold, Gabe Ovgard and Adam Soesman (all sophomores, with Ovgard being a walk-on) were asked to rise to the occasion at safety and all had some bright moments this season.  With sophomore Justin Strong and junior Cyril Noland-Lewis taking over for four year starters and NFL players Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy there was a lot of fear of a big drop off. At times there was to be honest, but for me, much of the issues on defense were found closer to the line of scrimmage.  The secondary is being asked to cover, but no one can do that indefinitely and as the season wore on and more and more new names were being seen out there, it became apparent that the defense was going to just struggle in 2015.

Next Year:
So what can we expect in 2016?  Will the secondary be better?  Will there be a reason for hope that the next season of Beaver football will be more exciting and less of a practice of patience?

In this group, I believe so. While amazing people and players like Naji Patrick and Larry Scott will be moving on, most of the names I have mentioned will be back.  This means that all of that experience over the previous year will provide these players with a blueprint on what they need to improve on.  It is not often that you return 10 players with starting experience in your secondary, but Oregon State does.  You also will have the inclusion of highly touted redshirt freshmen Xavier Crawford and Jay Irvine at corner.  In addition there is the speedster Omar Hicks-Onu and highly coveted recruit Jalen Moore ready to fight for some playing time at safety this year.

Ultimately Oregon State needs to be able to rotate in a lot of players. Teams that can handle up tempo offenses like the ducks, Bears and Cougars need to be able to play fast, efficient and fresh.  There may not be a ton of help again up front this year, but if there is, I expect this group to be impressive. With the addition of Coach Hall, i think our secondary will show the most improvement from year one of the Gary Andersen regime and year two on the defense. And with potentially three more members of the secondary coming in (two of which are four star recruits) there could be more talent in the defensive backfield than we have seen in a long time. Which means good things for the Beavers.

Go Beavs (PRO)

Quick Hit: Recruiting

As we come to the end of the 2015- 2016 recruiting cycle, the Beavers find themselves in rare territory for the men of Corvallis.  With a basically full class, the Oregon State coaches are looking for places to upgrade talent over who they have committed, while also keeping poachers at bay from their class of future stars.

Ratings wise, this class will be as good or better than any since 2004, according to Rivals.  Fit wise it is probably even better with a huge influx of defensive talent that is needed to do what new Defensive Coordinator Kevin Clune and head coach Gary Anderson want to do with their defense. The identity of a tough and attacking defense requires tons of depth in the secondary and great pressure by the defensive ends and linebackers.  With the Utah blueprint as an example of where the Beavers want to go, bringing  in 5 defensive backs, 6 defensive ends and 4 linebackers.  With an additional defensive tackle, this class could be the most defensive focused class since the Pettibone era.

It will be interesting to see how it pans out, but if even half of them become contributors at a Pac-12 level, this class will be a memorable one!

QUICK HIT BULLETS:

  • This afternoon our 2015 Position Review: Defensive Backs will be live
  • Look for a basketball quick hit on Drew Eubanks this week.
  • Wednesday will have my article on my experience watching the OSU Women beat the ducks in basketball at Matt Knight Arena
  • Fonts are going to roll this week.  It is all about the fonts!

Quick Hits: A New Year, A New Feature.

As we pull out of the busy times of the Holidays and get over some of the flu-induced hangovers we have been dealing with here at The Official Candy Report, I am going to introduce a new feature:  The Quick Hit. As we plan our schedule for trying to get as much content out as possible, I am going to start doing Quick Hits.  These will be a paragraph or two max on a single subject along with some bullet points of things to look forward to in the future.

In addition, we are going to try and commit to no less than 3 posts per week here, as long as we have something to say. I am  not going to do a bunch of silly or lame posts to fill a quota, but between Raju and I, we have to have at least three things to say per week.

So here is the first one, and just a sentence over the max!  Pretty good for me!

QUICK HIT BULLETS:

  • On Monday our 2015 Position Review: Defensive Backs will be live
  • Raju is getting ready to post some interesting takes on Men’s Basketball
  • I will be posting an article on my experience watching the OSU Women beat the ducks in basketball at Matt Knight Arena
  • Starting next week, I will be updating some design elements on the site, so you may notice some subtle changes at first.  Don’t be alarmed… unless you hate them. Then let me know!

2015 Position Review: Quarterbacks

Over the next few weeks, I am going to share my thoughts on each position’s performance last season, as well  take a look at what next year could look like. With a season like 2015, there will be a lot of changes beyond the usual attrition and reloading.

Quarterbacks:
Heading into the the 2015 season, no position was under more scrutiny than the quarterback position.  With big name coaches like Dave Baldwin and Kevin McGiven (2014 Quarterbacks coach of the year) joining the staff, there was hope this position would grow, and grow quickly.  Through spring ball, the three-headed monster of Seth Collins, Marcus McMaryion, and Nick Mitchell were all ready to take the field and see what they could do in fall camp.

Quickly, the coaches deemed it a two-horse race with McMaryion and Collins taking the majority of the snaps with the first team. In the end, the coaches chose to go with the true freshman Seth Collins and his electric running ability. What started out promising, unfortunately saw a lot of freshmen mistakes and some injuries that forced the Beavers to use all three of their available quarterbacks.

Passing:

NAME CMP ATT YDS CMP% YDS/A TD INT RAT
Seth Collins 83 160 935 51.9 5.84 6 4 108.3
Nick Mitchell 51 113 571 45.1 5.05 3 4 89.3
Marcus McMaryion 27 67 403 40.3 6.02 1 3 86.8

At first glance, it appears OSU had a clear passing leader, and OSU’s only wins, one of which was against FCS opponent Weber State, were with Seth Collins getting most of the snaps. If you take those two games out, there is a lot more balance against the higher-level competition.  Each QB had good games in conference play, with Collins having a breakout game against Stanford, Mitchell playing amazingly well against Utah, and McMaryion giving himself a shot at starting next year with his play against the ducks in the Civil War. In some cases, like McMariyon’s Civil War performance, it really was good enough to win, if the defense could have stopped the high-powered duck offense.

While none of our QB’s were going to be on any all-conference teams, all three showed some good, but it was the bumps we talk about them taking on their way to being a better conference quarterback more. Unfortunately, there were too many bumps in a lot of cases and it became obvious that while our quarterbacks were warriors, they were asked to do more than they could on many occasions. Players such as Nick Mitchell that gave everything they had to be the starter, yet at the end of the year, are now moving on to play somewhere else (Dixie State University). Or Seth Collins who was electric on the field, but will be taking his talents to a different position where he can find more success, potentially beyond his time at Oregon State.

While Beaver Nation has been used to having great quarterback play the last two decades with names like Smith, Andersen, Moore, Canfield, Moevao and Mannion, this year was a struggle with a position group that just couldn’t quite get over the hump. For me personally, what I will remember is a group of guys asked to take on a lot of responsibility when a lot of change was happening, when their world was rocked just a few months prior to the start of the season, who never quit. They never backed down from any opponents and tried their best. For that, I will always be thankful.

Just like the efforts of Ian Shields when he was asked to be the QB for the Beavers in Jerry Pettibone’s first year (who also had a remarkable Civil War experience), this was a team of pro-style QB’s picked by Mike Riley for his system who were being asked to switch gears and go to something else. So for them, i am grateful. Grateful for their efforts and for never giving up.  That will most likely do them more good in life than one or two more wins this year would.

Next Year:
With Collins moving to wide Receiver, and transfer QB Darrell Garrettson being eligible to play after sitting out the mandated transfer year, OSU has only one familiar face returning behind center.

Darell Garrettson, RS Jr.
Marcus McMariyon, RS Soph.
Mason Moran, Fr.

McMariyon is the only QB with Pac-12 experience, but Garrettson played previously at Utah State. He played as a true freshman and was one of four starters during his sophomore season due to injury. Garrettson has a quick release and can really sling the ball around the field. He appears to have the edge going into the season, especially with McGiven moving to co-coordinator.

CMP ATT PCT YDS AVG TD LNG INT RAT
91 135 67.4 1140 8.4 8 81 3 153.4
126 209 60.3 1446 6.9 10 48 7 127.5

The other new arrival is Mason Moran. Another Chandler High School graduate, Mason is an amazing prospect, and not someone to sleep on.  The 5.7, 3 Star (according to Rivals) QB was on one of the best teams in the nation and was a force with his arm and his feet. His senior highlight film is filled with plays that should make Beaver Nation excited for the future.

With any coaching change, especially one so stark and complete, there will be shuffling and fluctuation of personnel both at coach and on the roster.  The loss of great teammates like Nick Mitchell is never awesome, but the future at OSU will be bright if they can continue to recruit nationally relevant players like Moran. While we will be in our second straight QB competition going into spring, this one may be more hopeful as it is filled with players that better fit the vision of coaches because the majority of them were picked for this system,

Go Beavs (PRO)

(stats provided by ESPN.com)

Pac-12 Hoops: 5 Things We Learned in Week 1

Conference play finally arrived and it didn’t disappoint. There were a lot of standout performances, upsets, etc. And while there’s still a lot of games to be played, there are some conclusions we can make at this point. Here’s some of mine:

It’s a wide open race. Who expected Arizona to lose two games? Or Cal to get swept by the Oregon schools? Or for Utah to lose to WSU, not long after upsetting Duke? We knew the Pac-12 was going to be a dogfight, but the great news is that it appears up for grabs. My pick right now? Washington. But you know, Lorenzo Romar’s teams have a way of underachieving… I still think the Ducks are loaded… and then there’s the Beavers…

Defense won’t be OSU’s forte. Last season, the Beavers scrapped and fought their way to 17 wins, relying on relentless defense. It’s safe to say that they are a little weaker at that end of the floor this year. That’s to be expected as a lot of freshmen are seeing time for the Beavers, but they must get better at defensive position (especially in the post) as the season goes on, or teams such as Utah or Arizona will eat them alive.

More Payton, please. There’s no question about it — Gary Payton II is without a doubt OSU’s best player (and arguably the best in the Pac-12). I love that he’s become such a strong leader and is so unselfish, but he will need to take over more games. Whether it’s off an offensive board, a fastbreak dunk, or a pull-up jumper, Payton can pretty much score at will. And the Beavers will need him to be more selfish to prevent offensive droughts.

Fantastic Froshies. That highly regarded 2015 recruiting class is living up to the hype. Tres Tinkle and Steven Thompson Jr. are the Beavers’ second- and third-leading scorers, while Drew Eubanks is starting at center. They’ve taken pressure off the underclassmen to do as much they had to do last season. They will take some lumps in Pac-12 play, but make no mistake, they will also be the reason the Beavers make the postseason. Look for one of Tinkle/Thompson to start soon.

Schaft-Factor. How great was it to see Olaf Schaftenaar turn in that 13 points, 8 rebounds-line against Oregon? Pretty awesome considering the eight boards were a career high. Plus, he played tough defense. However, in his next two games, he totaled 14 points, and just five rebounds. Consistency always has plagued the senior, and he will never be a great defender, but Schaft remains a key cog to OSU on offense. That’s why his consistency could be the Beavers’ biggest X-factor this season.

What did you take away from the first week of Pac-12 play? Go Beavs! (RW)

Thank You, Isaac Seumalo

For those that follow this little blog of mine, you will notice that I kind of like the offensive line.  As a former lineman myself, I have an affinity for the big uglies up front. It is not just that I want to make sure that the most important group on the entire field gets their due (Sorry, everyone else, but they are.), but I also want to make sure that people realize the extent of protection and blocking. It is usually 6 to 8 players working in unison, directing traffic and opening lanes, or protecting pockets while constantly looking for breaches into their assignment.

Which is why it is important to realize that win or lose, OSU was blessed to have one of the best offensive linemen in our history the past four years: Isaac Seumalo. To truly understand what Isaac meant to this team, you have to go back to the beginning.

The very best offensive line class of my life that signed with the Beavers was the 2012 class.  While injuries and grades diminished the numbers and the on field production of this class, the reality is that the 2012 class had five legitimate NFL bodies. Garrett Weinreich, Grant Bays, Gavin Andrews, Stanly Hasiak, and of course, Isaac Seumalo were all players from day one who were on the fast track to the NFL. The unfortunate retirements of Weinreich and Bays, the injury-filled career of Andrews, and the academic casualty of Hasiak diminished what was the second best OL class in the country.  While players in that class such as Josh Mitchell transformed themselves into NFL prospects, Isaac Seumalo was the crown jewel. Isaac was also one of our first commitments that year, and ushered in the beginnings of a great class by peer recruiting for months. I honestly believe that Isaac was the momentum starter for getting all of those guys, and without him, a few probably would have went elsewhere.

With this winter to train prior to the combine, Isaac should be able to fully regain his pre-injury form. While he is a first-round player, his injury history may cause him to slide in the NFL draft, but make no mistake, Isaac will be a longtime NFL player if he remains healthy. For those who watched him prior to his injury, Isaac moved so quickly in space, and ran with such a purpose on pulls, that often he was able to secure multiple blocks on a play. His strength and athleticism were off the charts. And even post-injury, he was able to handle speed rushes, bull rushes, and blocking in space with relative ease. This season, even while shaking the rust off from missing a year, Isaac was the second highest grader in the Peter Osborne system after Josh Mitchell. If you think about it, try taking a year off from your job because of injury and then coming back to perform at a high level… it is pretty dang impressive.

Isaac also stayed true to OSU during a traumatic time when his father was on the outside looking in after a coaching change. Isaac, whose family bleeds orange and black, stayed when he had every opportunity to leave. Like Richard Mullaney, Isaac could have probably landed anywhere, and maybe still be playing right now, as a 2-to play-2 player,  depending on how close he was to graduating. Instead, he stayed at OSU even though he was being asked to be a leader on a team that was destined for a rough season.

The biggest crime this year is that Isaac (and the other seniors) were not able to go out as winners. That their first year was going to be their best. While many lament the talent of the 2015 Beavers, the talent of one Isaac Seumalo, big No. 56, was the exception. As he waits to see where he gets picked, I will wait to see who one of my new favorite NFL teams becomes.  Whatever team he goes to will feel very lucky to have landed who will end up being the star of their own draft class. (Selfishly, I want it to be Seattle because I go to Seahawks games pretty regularly).

So thank you Isaac, and the Seumalo family. There are very few families that have been better to OSU athletics during my following of the program. While there were some bumps in the road, I cannot thank your family enough for sharing their talents with us. Especially a talent as amazing as Isaac’s.

Go Beavs, and go whatever NFL team takes Isaac! (PRO)

Reasons for excitement? You bet!

With the pending announcement that Kevin Clune will be our new Defensive Coordinator, as well as Cory Hall becoming our new Safeties coach.  If you have never heard those names, don’t feel sad, neither had I.  In fact, when I heard Coach Sitake was leaving for BYU, my short list of names featured neither of them. They are not the “blow the doors off the conference” type hires that Andersen and Sitake were. They fall under the “well I trust Andersen” type hires where I cross my fingers and hope for the best.

The thing is, while it is tough to really get excited about losing a great coach and replacing it with two unknowns, at east our unknowns are more well known than those around us.  With the news of Don Pellum being demoted for the ducks, and their Linebackers Coach going to be the Defensive Coordinator for UCF.  In fact, right now, there are four Pac-12 teams with no Defensive Coordinator and a few more looking for other assistants.  As the earthquake of post season moves get made, and the after shocks are felt throughout the nation, at least OSU knows where it is going and who it is going to war with.

I may not know these two coaches, but you can just add that to the list of things I don’t know.  So for now, I will trust the process because, hey, at least I know where it is going!

Go Beavs (PRO)

Time to Question the Process?

“Respect the Process.”

Since Gary Andersen was hired, that’s been a catchphrase we heard over and over.

While he was installing a new philosophy and system. While the coaching staff played musical chairs with the QBs. And while the Beavers suffered through some of the most horrible loses in program history

But after watching Anderson shake up his coaching staff and seeing Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki leave for BYU, I can’t bite my tongue any longer. At the moment, that “process” appears to be quite unclear.

Demoting your experienced and proven offensive coordinator to inside receivers coach coach after one season? A season that everyone knew was going to be struggle… What the heck? It’s not like Dave Baldwin had a surefire QB, a consistent stable of running backs, etc. You have to have some talent to execute your play calls well, right?

So while I am excited to see what Kevin McGiven and TJ Woods can do with the offense, I can’t help but feel Baldwin was given a raw deal, and it’s hard to imagine someone with his credentials sticking around much longer. Same with Brent Brennan who now will coach outside receivers and special teams.

And that’s a shame because after the disaster that was John Garrett, it seemed like the Baldwin was just what the Beavers needed. Someone who could put players in positions to succeed, while keeping defenses off balance with creative game plans, while Brennan helped bridge the gap between Mike Riley and Andersen.

I do know this, Andersen must hit a home run with whoever he hires to replace Sitake. The Beavers have enough talent returning to make big strides offensively next season, but the other side of the ball is where the questions are. They could use a coach who can make a immediate impact since we didn’t get to see the full Sitake effect.

Speaking of Sitake, as I mentioned in my last post, I don’t blame him for taking the BYU job. I also don’t begrudge Andersen for hiring him, even if it was clear Sitake might get snatched up quickly. You have to make the best hire possible.

But… here’s where I struggle with that. For some OSU players, this season will mark their third coordinator in as many seasons. When rebuilding a program, stability and continuity are important. That’s why the shuffling on offense, and the having to hire two defensive coaches isn’t ideal.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Andersen is capable of doing great things at OSU, but enough questions have been raised lately, that I think it’s fair to wonder if Andersen can get the program back to respectability and take it to the level Riley fell just short of reaching.

I’ve always been in “wait-and-see” mode with Andersen, and right now, I’m questioning the process…

Go Beavs! (RW)