This morning I was reminded of the iconic scene from Adam Sandler’s first hit movie, Billy Madison. In that movie, slacker moron Billy Madison finds out what day it is, and realizes it is the day he’s to receive his adult literature by mail. In his child-like excitement, he ran to the mailbox yelling, “Nudie Magazine Day! Nudie Magazine Day!” while he rushed to obtain his unfortunate variety of depravity. I feel like that today, but because of something universally more awesome:
The start of Beaver Football.
As the players prepare to take the field in Bend, Oregon for a secluded, yet, focused satellite camp experience, there are a few things that stand out to me this fall that I feel compelled to share:
3 Things To Be Excited About
Following a 2-10 season, some might think there is not a lot to be excited about. Those that follow this blog probably noticed that I must have sat on and crushed my orange-colored glasses as I publicly aired my fragile mental state in preparation for this season. In reality, I was preparing myself for a rough season and was trying not to get excited.
Much like Christmas in Whoville could not be denied, my soul was singing:
Fah who foraze! Dah who doraze!
Welcome Football, come this way!
I have three solid reasons to be excited, and so do you:
- Year 2 is always better than Year 1.
A universal truth in football is that the second year of anything is always better. While some will lament sophomore slumps of players, one needs to only look at the last few big changes, or even just QB changes, to see that Year 2 can be super exciting. Year 2 of Mike Riley I ended with the best game I have ever seen in my life and paved the way for a bright, immediate future for Oregon State. Year 2 of the Dennis Erickson era saw the best single season in OSU history. Year 2 of the Derek Andersen regime under Riley saw his most productive year ever. Year 2 of the Matt Moore ride saw us win the second most games in a season. Year 2 of the Lyle Moevao era saw us take our first unsuccessful shot at the Rose Bowl. Year 2 with Sean Canfield led to an all-conference performance and another shot at the Rose Bowl. Year 2 of the Sean Mannion era was best start in the Mike Riley era, the best regular season record for Mike and a six-game improvement on wins. Year 2 for Andersen will be better and the reasons are objective. It is another year of training with Coach Simon, another year of perfecting new blocking schemes, another year of building relationships, another year of working with these coaches, and another year of maturity for many of the starters. Sure, we have a ton of youth coming in, but the guys that have been here, the Decouds and Boldens of the team are in their primes and are looking to make their marks. I have no idea how much better we will be, or even if we will win more games. I just know we will be better, and that is all I ask of anyone. Continually improving.
- Very Few Surprises.
We have some position battles this year, just like any year. Corner, defensive tackle, defensive end, center, tackle, and running back are all seeing battles at some point in regards to their depth. Fortunately, there are clear front runners and clear leaders all around the team. We have our receivers, we know at least one running back, we have our quarterback and tight ends. We also know what our offensive line will look like, for the most part. Same with defense. We know the names we are going to see, even if their role shifts a bit. The key to this is the players who need reps get them. Splitting QB reps three ways last year for most of fall camp hurt. Splitting reps on the defensive line and at corner also hurt. We know whose going to start getting looks right now, and we know where the battles are. That was not the case in 2015.
- Starting QB day one.
I know that QB’s get a lot of media love, but honestly, if OSU is going to take a solid step this year, the guy taking the snaps needs to get as many reps as possible. Garretson has a lot of promise for the Beavers, but that doesn’t mean he is going to just show up and dominate. His ability to focus, get the reps he needs and continue to build on his repertoire with his teammates and receivers is imperative to starting out on our best foot for a tough first game.
Just like in business, sometimes there are what we call “Opportunities” (or worries/bugs/dumpster fires/etc…) and the Beavers have some of those. Or potential opportunities I should say. These are just three things that give me pause and keep me from being my full “Hi Yah” Beaver fan:
I am really excited to see Yanni Demogerontas make the jump to starting center. He didn’t come to campus with a ton of fanfare so it is a testament to the work he has put in. That being said, Josh Mitchell was arguably our best offensive lineman last year and probably one of the better centers in our long line of quality centers at OSU. Yanni has big shoes to fill and he very well could be up to the task. I don’t know, and that is what worries me. With our option game, the interior of the line is CRUCIAL to its success. That push and double team is a huge part of our offense, and so the mystery around Yanni is scary. I am hoping that it ends up being “much ado about nothing” but I still see reason for concern, especially Week 1.
This area has a lot of talent to draw from, but again, I am not sure what to expect. I recognize our starters, but I also recognize them as having some struggles last year. My hope is that was about 80% the pass rush’s fault, and that this unit will make a big jump this year. I just am not sure, and like the center position, that is scary to this armchair QB.
- Pass Rush.
As mentioned above, this really killed us last year. Not just the pass rush, but how easily our ends were reached on run plays. I feel like the outside of the defensive line was the toughest part of our defense last year. No push and in some games, there was no containment on the edge. There are a lot of new bodies and fresh faces to draw from, but one whole side/position group is all true freshmen. They may be amazing, but that is still scary. There are going to be tough moments and mistakes made along the way. I actually think the ceiling of our defensive line is pretty high, but they need to be ready and that is where I am concerned. With just a fall camp for almost half of the defensive line depth chart, there just might not be enough time to get them as ready as they need to be to compete at the desired level so soon.
All of these questions will be answered in just a bit of time. Starting today, we will see this team take shape and establish what 2016’s version of the Beavers will be. I am 100% confident it will not resemble 2015 much, if at all. I am also 100% confident that I have no idea what to expect outside of that first point. That is where the being scared comes from, but it is also the source of excitement. I have literally dreamed of Paul Lucas torching Minnesota for 3 TDs in the first quarter of our opening game, en route to a 40-point victory over the Gophers. While the lucid Peter Osborne is far less confident, at least the subconscious Peter is excited and is doing its best to “Fan-Shame” me. Let’s hope I am far smarter when unconscious.
I am sure that many who know me would vouch for that hypothesis.
Go Beavs (PRO)