Monthly Archives: February 2016

Quick Hits: Spring Football

As we draw closer to Spring Football, I think that there are a lot of compelling stories to this year’s spring showcase:

  1. Who will take control at Quarterback?
    This will be the second straight year of speculation and wonder at who the Beaver signal caller will be this year.  My gut tells me that it will be Garrettson, but to be honest, I would not be shocked if Marcus McMariyon or Mason Moran made a run at it.  All three have upside to their games, but this is the most important decision of the coming season for the new Offensive Coordinator tandem of McGiven and Woods.
  2. What will Coach Clune’s defense look like?
    Will the play at linebacker be vastly improved?  Who will the defensive line starters be?  Will we be in an odd or even base formation?  Who will step up at corner?  Will the young and talented incoming freshmen get a shot to start?  While some of those questions may have been answered in interviews, until Clune is in there with the players (and Hall) they are not going to really know what they have and what they can do. With the advent of the up tempo offenses in the Pac-12, there is literally no way to have a successful defense unless you are two or three deep at every position.  An odd front not only gets more speed on the field, it also limits how many big defensive linemen you have to have to maintain a solid defensive line rotation. We will see how everyone does!
  3. Who will step up at running back and for Josh Mitchell and Isaac Seumalo?
    Those are big questions, almost as big as quarterback.  We will see who gets the nod and how they do, but the Beavers have a lot of pieces so how they put them together is going to be interesting!

I love spring ball, I love the hope that comes from it and the stories, but also, I love seeing how the team develops and who steps up as we get ready for fall.  With all these questions following a rough season, I am looking forward to finding the answers and hoping that they are the right ones!

QUICK LINKS:

  • It’s baseball season again!  Look for a few notes on Beaver baseball and as always, check out JP Beaver’s reviews at BeaverBlitz.com.  They are worth the price of the site alone if you are a baseball fan!
  • I will be doing a timeline feature that takes a kind of critical look at the last year of Beaver Football
  • With a must win series against the Washington schools this week, we will have a note on where Basketball is and where we see it going in the future.
  • Where did the features I promised a few weeks go?  Well they are still on their way. Just need a bit if fine tuning.  And to be written.

Civil War Weekend

As I get ready to go to the men’s basketball game against the most hated rivals this weekend, I am faced with an interesting realization. I care more now about basketball than i have since high school.  Back in 1990, my freshman year in High School, I remember being worried that the Gary Payton-less Beavers were going to be a mess.  I loved players like Teo Alibegovitch, Scott Haskins and Chad Scott, but the loss of Payton and Earl Martin were going to be too much.  When Haskins wasn’t able to play, I thought it was all over.  But the Beavers found a way to break even  (14-14) and with Haskins coming back for the following season, I thought that 1990-1991 was a blip on the radar of the Orange Express.

So I didn’t care because I knew it would just be one down year.

As we know the story ended much differently.  Even through the Craig Robinson era, when the string of losing seasons ended, I found my interest waning mostly because of the circus that followed Craig around.  As I have said before, i was a fan of Robinson and respect the steps he took here to bring OSU back to being interesting.  All the off the court stuff (and the degradation of the product on the court) got old though.

So now we are in the Wayne Tinkle era, and so far it is a very good one.  The team has talent, they play well together and they seem to be on the verge of something special.  At this point in the season the past 20 years, the NCAA tournament was either mathematically impossible or required so many outside scenarios and dominos to fall that there was little hope the Beavers could make it. This year, they make their own destiny. If they can win their final games, they will be in.  They can even maybe lose tomorrow and still get in.

So I will be there, in my orange and black, cheering on the Beavers and hoping that they can find a way to beat the ducks again.  If so, this Beaver team will do something that I have not seen since my days as a Cheldelin Cougar.  Go to the NCAA tournament.

Go Beavs! (PRO)

Down the Stretch: 4 Keys for the Beavs

In my previous post, I broke down the Beavers’ chances of making the NCAA tournament. The gist of it all, it’s going to take a superb effort to get there… Because I figured the Beavs need to win at least four of their last seven games to get a good look, here’s four things that need to happen down the stretch for them to get those wins (besides the obvious “win a Pac-12 road game).

  1. Box out and REBOUND. Granted the Beavers were playing against two teams last week that had dominant big men, but they’ve got to rebound better from here out. Allowing a lot second-chance opportunities can put teams in a hole quickly, especially on the road when you don’t have the energy of the home crowd to feed off. So the Beavers need to assert themselves better and snare more boards. Plus, with a guy like Gary Payton II, quick outlet passes off rebounds could turn into easy buckets.
  1. Shuffle the lineup. I might catch flack for this, but I think Jarmal Reid should be inserted into the starting lineup, or at least for some of the games. Yes, he’s gotten attention for all the wrong reasons lately, but he’s arguably OSU’s most physical player, which is sorely needed in the post. Olaf Schaftenaar is more polished offensively, but outside of the UO game, has struggled on the boards and defensively this season. I welcome Reid’s “Bull in a China Shop” style because he’s not afraid to try to make something happen when the offense is stagnant.
  1. Go time for the seniors. There’s really nothing left to say about GP II, except that he can’t do it all every game. Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson have done an admirable job helping carry the load, but this late in the season, you have to wonder when fatigue will kick in for OSU’s talented freshmen. One of the seniors needs to step up and take charge, not just scoring-wise, but leadership-wise, too. The good thing is that Malcolm Duvivier and Langston Morris-Walker are capable of doing it, they just need to assert themselves. Or even if Daniel Gomis could provide some help on the boards and defensively, it would be huge.
  1. Play a complete game. The Beavers need to play 40 minutes through. What I mean by that is, they need to start hot, never look back, and finish strong. Too often, they’ve been prone to lapses or dry spells that allow teams to comeback or pull away. Even worse, they’ve come out pretty flat at the beginning or start of the half, case in point, the Stanford and ASU losses. The key to all of this? Defense. Where is that stingy team from last year? I don’t get it, it’s the same team from last season pretty much, plus some really good athletes. Is experience really that essential to playing good defense?

What would you like to see from the Beavers during their last seven games?

Go Beavs! (RW)

What are the Beavs Chances Of Dancing?

It’s hard to believe that the Beavers are in jeopardy of not matching last year’s surprising 17-win season. They were supposed to be a lot better this year.

Especially with GP II emerging as one of the top players in the nation. Or with key upperclassmen like Malcolm Duvivier and Jarmal Reid a year wiser. And last but not least, the infusion of talented freshmen such as Tres Tinkle and Steven Thompson Jr.

But heading down the stretch, the Beavers (14-8, 5-6 Pac-12)  find themselves not only needing to win their final two home games against the Washington schools, but also a rare conference road win — they haven’t won on the road in Pac-12 play. Those previous losses to Utah and ASU (both on the road, of course) may very end up costing the Beavers an NCAA berth.

The Beavers have seven games remaining, five of which are away from Gill, which is not a comforting thought. Here are their remaining games:

Feb. 11 at Stanford
Feb. 13 at California
Feb. 20 at Oregon
Feb. 24 Washington
Feb. 28 Washington State
March 2 at USC
March 5: at UCLA

OSU’s best shot at a road win is probably Stanford, but remember how the Cardinal shellacked the Beavers on January 6 at Gill? The Beavs don’t seem to match up with them well. Cal, I think will be much tougher at home, and I think they are due for a big game down the stretch.

Oregon, unfortunately, is peaking at the right time, and should be the favorite to win the Pac-12. I can see the Ducks winning out (BOO)! As far as the rest of the PNW slate goes, UW will be tough without question, and I could see a loss there. WSU should be a win, but that’s what I thought about the previous Stanford and ASU games.

And to wrap up the season, USC is playing pretty well, and then there’s super hot and cold UCLA… But because of the Beavers’ inability to win on the road, I don’t see them winning that one either…

So realistically, I am thinking they beat Stanford and WSU to put them at 16 wins, meaning the Beavers would need to do some damage in the Pac-12 tournament to match last season’s record, and make a stronger case for the Dance.

Working in OSU’s favor, now that the team is coming off a sweep of the Mountain schools, is its RPI that sits at 33 — a testament to Beavers beating teams like Oregon, Cal, USC, Utah, and Colorado.

There’s also the compelling storyline. The Beavers last made the tournament in 1990, led by a superstar guard named Gary Payton. How cool would it be for his son to lead his alma matter back to the dance 26 years later. Pardon the cliche here, but that would be a storybook ending for GP II.

And if that happens, you know Beaver Nation, starving for a return to its glory days in hoops, would represent well at wherever the Beavers end up… I’m 99 percent sure I am going!

But all of this is a moot point if the Beavers don’t finish strong down the stretch. They need to take care of business at home, and at the least split their two road series. That would put them at 18 wins, which I think would be good enough to go dancing. Of course, more wins would be nice.

However, until the Beavers can get that damn road monkey off their shoulder, I’m not feeling great about their odds. Maybe a 40 percent chance of getting to 18 wins… How about you guys, what do you think about their chances?

Go Beavs! (RW)

Why I Love Women’s Hoops.

For the first time since I can remember, I am not watching the Super Bowl.  Sure, I check my phone to see the scores, but to be honest, I really just don’t like the NFL.  I cannot support or endorse an organization as evil as the NFL.  So I figured I would make use of my newly reclaimed 6 hours of life to write about an experience I had a few weeks ago.

I had the fortune to attend the women’s Civil War at Matt Knight Arena in Eugene.  I got two tickets from my work (CBT Nuggets has some fantastic perks!) and took my oldest daughter to watch the game.  She is six years old and has literally no interest in basketball or any sports. She also doesn’t really like the rivalry between the ducks and Beavers because she is nicer than her dad and hates how people argue about it all the time.

As we walked across the floor to our seats, I noticed that the stadium was half full of Beaver fans.  It was loud and exciting but nice, and fun.  It wasn’t like going to a football game where people drop F-Bombs on me or flip me off when the Beavers score. It was like going to watch a match between two teams that are friends and just love to play.

My hope was my daughter would see young women who work hard to achieve something and are celebrated for it. My hope was more than affirmed.  Both teams worked hard, made plays and gave their all.  it was inspiring to see the Beavers overcome a duck run, but also nice to see the crowd get excited when the ducks were playing well.  I found myself having more fun than I anticipated and before the game was over, I ended up doing something I never thought I would.

I sang Shout.

As I looked around the stands I saw Beaver fans and duck fans alike jumping up and down, singing the song and having fun.  I got into it and my daughter did and it was awesome.  The closest thing i can equate to it was when I went to my first Hockey game in Seattle and really had no dog in the fight on either team. I just enjoyed the sport, the atmosphere and the fun. That afternoon at Matt Knight, I didn’t just go blind looking at their hideous floor, I got to enjoy a game, enjoy a crowd and watch a game without having to hold my hands over my daughters ears or wonder if I was going to have to fight my way to my car.

It was awesome and as I left, I left a fan of women’s hoops in general but also with an affinity for the Beaver players and coaches.  I was proud to be a member of Beaver Nation that day, and that is something i haven’t always been over the last few years.

So thank you Coach Rueck, and all the coaches and players, for having a great product to watch, but also for giving me a great afternoon with my daughter where she got to see young women be celebrated for being awesome.  It was one of my sports highlights of the the last three years… maybe longer.

Go Beavs! (PRO)

Quick Hit: Drew Eubanks

In light of last night’s electric win over Utah, I thought it would be good to look into one of our young players, Drew Eubanks.  I am a huge Eubanks fan, and while I think he obviously has a lot of room to improve, I really feel like he is a rare athlete, especially for Oregon State. Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s around oregon State Basketball, I have seen a lot of great big men.  Jose Ortiz, Scott Haskins and of course Steve Johnson and while it is almost mean to put the pressure on Drew to be like those guys, I think he can be someone that gets mentioned in those names some day.

Rarely do we see players as big and long in the limb as Drew that can handle the ball and run so well.  Often players struggle to control the ball or dribble in traffic, yet Drew seems to have amazing body control and agility for a player his size.  He is fast, jumps well and could be one of the better scoring big men we have had in a while.  His defensive game definitely needs some refinement, and he probably could stand to add a few pounds of muscle to deal with some of the elite centers in the conference, but as the year has gone on, I have seen him start to develop a devastating hook shot that could be un-blockable for a guy his size, and a penchant for getting blocks.  It will be interesting to see his growth over time, but I really like what I see from Drew and think he could be a star for the Beavers before he is gone.

QUICK HIT BULLETS:

  • My running backs review will be pushed to next week, and my hope is to get two out (Running Backs and Linebackers)
  • Next week we will take a look at the defensive side of this recruiting class.
  • My article on my experience watching the OSU Women beat the ducks in basketball at Matt Knight Arena is not a myth. It will be out this coming week.

Recruiting: How did we do on offense?

Recruiting is the lifeblood of every college program and every sport. Coaching is important, but having the athletes to preform the tasks the coaches require is imperative.  For the goals Coach Andersen and his staff  have, it is not good enough to have a very good 22 players that can start both ways, but to have the quality of depth that they can handle the ebbs and flows of your typical season.  For last year’s Civil War, Oregon State only had 57 players available.   That means they had less than a full 3 deep on both sides of the ball.  As we saw in the secondary and on defensive line, as injuries piled up, the options of who to put out there got less and less clear.

Coach Andersen has been very clear on the need for Oregon State to be bigger, faster and stronger than they were the day he stepped on campus, and part of that means getting in players that have those same qualities. So did the Beavers do it?  Is this class a step in the right direction for a team that is trying to put a two win season as far in the rear view mirror as possible?  Lets see:

OFFENSE:
Offensively, Oregon State had fewer needs.  While they will graduate 6 offensive linemen this year, other positions are less dire. Barring early defections for the draft of other reasons, the Beavers will lose the a fore mentioned linemen, 2 Tight Ends, 2 receivers, 1 Running Back and no QB’s. So what did we bring in?

Offensive Line: 1
Gus Lavaka

Over the next two years we lose 9 linemen. Next year will be a big year for recruiting them.  This year landing Gus Lavaka was a great get.  He is huge (6’4, 330lbs) and is returning from his Mission after signing his LOI to Hawaii in 2012.  A true offensive tackle, GUs will be a good player for the Beavers.

Candy Report Grade: C+
“I give this a C+ because I wanted two linemen in this class, but Gus is a solid talent who should be a good player for us over the next four or five years.”

Wide Receiver: 4
Kee Whetzel
Tyson Penn
Trevon Bradford
Timmy Hernandez

While we only lose two receivers this year, after 2017 we will lose 5 more. At least. So this was a position of need for sure.  Penn is a  huge target (6’5″ 195lbs)from perennial powerhouse Bellevue High School (Bellvue, WA) who was vastly under-recruited for as talented as he is.  Bradford is another solid player in the mold of Sammie Stroughter, who hails from Oregon City, OR.  JC Transfer Timmy Hernandez was being recruited as a defensive back from most schools, but the Beavers like the 6’1″ 195lb receiver from Pima Community College in Arizona. Kee Whetzel was a zero hour commitment from Florida who is another big target (6’3″ 184lbs) for the Beaver passers.

Candy Report Grade: B
“This is a position of need, and while they signed a few guys that I think are underrated, there is no big splash signing either.  And Hernandez will have a smaller impact numbers wise because he is a transfer.  Good class that will surprise people. “

Quarterback: 1
Mason Moran

Since Coach Andersen got to Corvallis, this position needed the biggest overhaul. Not that the players we had were not good, but they were pro style QB’s brought in to throw the ball in the pocket.  With the defection of Luke Del Rio, Kyle Kempt, Tanner Sanders, Nick Mitchell and recently Seth Collins (and the transition of Brent VanderVeen to Tight End), OSU now has just three QB’s on their whole team.  That includes current pick Mason Moran. So for me, that is kind of a tough spot to be in.  Not only that, the three you have: Garrettson, McMaryion and Moran are all quite different from each other.

Candy Report Grade: C+
“I think Mason is a steal and a great find, but I think they needed more QB’s than this. Last year, we used all three QB’s on the roster.  The year before Utah State used four, including Garrettson. I think the coaches got a great one in Moran, but missed on not taking a second QB. “

Running Backs: 2
Artavis Pierce
Kyle White

With the graduation of Storm Woods and Shane Wallen, the Beavers had a moderate need for running back. Senior Chris Brown, Sophomore Ryan Nall, Junior Damien Haskins and Sophomore Deltron Sands all saw action last year at running back. As did receiver Paul Lucas.  So with four or five players getting time last year, and a class break down that has the Beavers losing no more than 1 running back a year, the need was not great.

Fortunately, the coaches were able to keep the Florida pipeline alive by getting another running back from Auburndale, FL in Artavis Pierce.  Artavis is a quick runner and someone that can make an impact running inside or outside or getting the ball in space.  In addition, they added JC transfer Kyle White. The Orange Coast C.C. running back is a big body (6′ 200lbs) that can be used in a lot of different situations.

Candy Report Grade: B+
“While this position was not a huge area of need, this class not only adds some depth and talent, but also keeps alive key recruiting areas that will pay off down the road.  In the grand scheme of recruiting, this was probably the best job of recruiting by the offensive coaches because of the combination of talent, need and regional influence.”

Tight End: 1
Riley Sharp

Next year, the Beavers will say goodbye to standout Tight End Caleb Smith and former QB Brent VanderVeen.  With Ryan Nall moving to Running Back, that really only leaves Tuli Wily-Matagi, Noah Togiai and DaJuan Gant to play next to Riley Sharp. So again, I think that the coaches may have wanted two players here.  Especially since Sharp (6’5″ 215lbs), a superb athlete with great hands, will need to bulk up quite a bit to be an effective tight end for the Beavers.  I like Sharp a lot, but feel like we are again forcing next year to be a big tight end recruiting year for the Beavers.

Candy Report Grade: C+
“Sharp is underrated just because of his hands. If he can add 30 pounds he could be a beast for the Beavers by his Junior year.  Unfortunately, when he is a junior, he will be one of two TE on the team, so it really puts pressure on the coaches to add some quality bodies in the next two years.  Especially if they want to run double tight formations.”

CONCLUSION:
When you see the grades, you might think I am down on this class.  I most definitely am not.  I think the players they got are very high quality. I think Kee Whetzel would be a high 3* if he was in Oregon or Washington, but coming from Florida he gets lost in the shuffle. I think Moran is a legit Pac-12 starter from an amazing program and I think that we are going to be shocked by what Gus Lavaka brings.  I really think that the coaches did super well recruiting receiver, but I think they set themselves up to be under a lot of offensive pressure next year in recruiting.  They will need to sign two tight ends, two quarterbacks and four offensive linemen (or more).  Which seems doable, but it means that we are going to see saw offensive classes and defensive classes.   I prefer balance across the board, but that is just me.

For fit, I give this class a B+. For completeness and filling the needs they have for the future, I give it a D.  So my overall offensive grade for this class would be a C, which is pretty good when you consider the coaches felt the need to fill defensive needs so strongly that they recruited 2x as many defenders and offensive players. The ceiling for this class was never going to be an A because even filled with 4* players, the numbers were still going to be concerning. I like the guys we got and I think we will have some house hold names come from this group of players that signed their Letters of Intent to play for the Beavers.

Go Beavs (PRO)!

Quick Hit: LOI Day

With Letter of Intent day coming Wednesday, Oregon State will be looking to see if they can hold onto their current list of commitments.  Recently, we saw the loss of longtime recruit Javonte Ferguson which led to the gain of receiver Kee Whetzel.  It is the nature of the beast and there will most likely be more surprises and head scratching decisions along the way. What is interesting as we look at the class is the fit for the program:

Defense.

While there are lots of indications that the current Beaver staff is a stark contrast to the previous one in philosophy and practice, nothing shows that more than recruiting.  With the bulk of the first two classes being on the defensive side of the ball, specifically in the secondary, Andersen and his staff are saying they want to make sure that their defense is their strength.  Which makes sense because while offenses are sexy, if you look at who is winning big championships, it is teams that have both or are defensive focused. Even in their approach to offense. Those that think of Clemson as this amazing offensive machine are doing a disservice to a defense that features more 4 and 5 star recruits along their defensive line than OSU has on their whole team.

Defense wins championships as they say, and if you can gauge a philosophy by their recruiting, then I would say Coach Andersen would agree with that sentiment.

QUICK HIT BULLETS:

  • Watch out for the 2015 Position Review: Running Backs this week
  • Look out for our take on our recruiting haul this year later this week (probably Friday)
  • Our Basketball Quick on Drew Eubanks will be out before the first game this week.
  • THIS Wednesday will have my article on my experience watching the OSU Women beat the ducks in basketball at Matt Knight Arena. (Sorry about last week!)
  • Fonts are going to roll this week.  It is all about the fonts!