So, today is the first day of fall camp. We at The Official Candy Report can almost feel the giant exhale by college sports fans, and causal sports fans who are tired of baseball, around the globe. This kickoff means two things:
1. Speculation, speculation speculation!
2. The Official Candy Report’s weekly Candy Reports start now!
Every Tuesday after a game, we will bring you a recap of the events the week before, in a unique and slightly irreverent tone meant to entertain and give praise where praise is deserved and udder disdain where it is needed. Usually 37 miles south of Reser, but I digress.
As the 2014 Campaign begins, I want to spend a few moments showing us what to be excited about and what to be less than excited about.
Lets be realistic here for a second. We can have angst over this and that and worry about the running game or the line or the defense or whatever, but this year there is something that we have NEVER had.
We as Beaver fans will be cheering for a future NFL starter at Quarterback. We have had the opportunity to cheer for some very good signal callers, and guys that have made a career in the NFL. We have even had the privileged of watching a quarterback from Oregon State play in the NFL Pro Bowl.
What we haven’t had is a Quarterback that will not only rewrite all of the Pac 12 record books, but will also be a first or second round pick in the NFL. Think about that. While we may have worries on this team, we are going to have the closest thing to Tom Brady we have ever seen running the show. Sean Mannion is the complete package and while we might worry about the pieces around him, if anyone is going to get the most out of those pieces, it will be Sean.
The Defensive Line:
This is an embarrassment of riches. While i try my best not to talk poorly about Beaver players, last year, the defensive tackles worked their butts off but were fighting an uphill battle all year. Once Braun went down, it was even harder. This year, there is not only a huge difference in size (6 players who are 295+) but there is a huge difference in experience. Hautau and Delva both played a lot last year, as did Tago and Bennett-Jackson. Grimble is new, but he did play in Miami and has experience at big time football. At defensive end, you have not only a ton of starts and talent in Dylan Wynn, but Jaswha James got some quality play late in the season last year. Failauga and Robins both have been in the program a while and there is a slew of talented new guys that are looking to make an impact. Ultimately, the Beavers have so much more talent. size and experience this year to draw from, I really can’t imagine wanting to play against them.
I picture having Grimble come out and then you have to get punched in the face by Tago for a while, then Dylan Wynn comes in and makes you feel bad about yourself while Hautau then forces you to burn a ton of energy trying to move him out of the way. Or Delva comes in and moves so much faster than you expect from someone that size or Grimble comes back and wreaks havoc on you world. It is not going to go great for teams and OSU will finally be able to just reload on the line and dominate the interior. Which means that bevy of experienced linebackers are going to be free to run around and make plays.
This is a good thing.
THE MAYBE NOT AS GOOD BUT THE JURY IS STILL OUT
There is a lot to be skeptical about here. With Isaac Seumalo and Grant Bays missing the beginning of practice, and a fierce struggle at left tackle brewing, you go from potentially having a very experienced and talented offensive line to potentially having to pull in two newbies to the fold. The good part is that there is a lot of talent to draw from. An offensive line of Andrews, Mitchell, Bays, Harlow and Stanton/Keenan/Hopkins is definitely good enough to win the first three games and maybe more. Andrews, Mitchell, Bays and Harlow are all experienced and talented enough to make NFL squads. So it is not like the world is ending. Or if that doesn’t work out, you can have Andrews, Mitchell, Bays, Sapolu, Harlow. Or Andrews, Mitchell, Sapolu, Lauina/Weinriech, Harlow. Or Andrews, Mitchell, Bays, Harlow, Stanton/Keenan/Hopkins. Or… you get the idea.
IF at some point, the line can be some combination of Seumalo, Harlow, Andrews, Bays and Mitchell, we will see as good of a line as we have seen in years. Maybe since 2007. So there is reason for optimism. The reason for pessimism, is the fact that we have a host of options, but none of them are set, which means guys are going to be splitting reps instead of five guys getting the most all the time. It also means that no one has stepped up and proved to the coaches that they are ready and are one of the top five. You get any five guys to do that and things will solidify. I would love for Isaac and Bays to get healthy early and be ready to go. My gut tells me that we won’t see Isaac until the SDSU game at the earliest. Bays is already practicing so he should be good to go.
Regardless, unlike the quarterback and defensive line, there are questions so as long as those are not answered, this is an area of concern.
A lot of people would not put this in there, but I think there is legitimate questions about coaching. First, on the defensive side, OSU went from an inspired defense in 2012 to a unit that had special moments (Stanford) and less than special moments (other games which I will not mention right now). Much of those could be attributed to injuries at linebacker and on the defensive line Of course there were also head scratching scheme issues in many of the unmentionable losses, and probably the wins as well. Now I am not a hater of our coaches, but I am concerned of their bi-polar identity.
They have done a great job against teams like Stanford, but that is a style of offense they have been defending for over a decade. And in modern times, there really is only one Stanford. They do a bit less well against teams that have athletic quarterbacks and run misdirection plays. Now not many teams do well, but the aggressive style of play that the Beavers employ can lead to players over-running the ball carrier. Now some of the years that the Beavers have done the best against these types of offenses have seen them with dominant defensive tackles. My hope is that if the tackles are a strength this year, that we will see them be a little bit better against what the layman calls “spread offenses”.
The other part of coaching that I am worried about is that OSU is breaking in a new Offensive Coordinator. Now I have seen Coach Garrett in practice and he is a breath of fresh air. I think he brings a ton in terms of excitement, attention to detail and upgrades in techniques like ball carrying and tackling. The issue is that we have no idea what kind of game plan developer he will be. We have no idea how much input he will have in the offense or if he will even be able to call plays in the near future.
I read a lot about what people hope or assume Garrett will bring. Better game clock management, more interesting run game, better reads by the QB, up tempo offense, better use of time outs and a better handle on what is working. That is what fans want. If I could pinpoint the biggest complaints about the current Riley era of football they would be:
- Clock Management
- Predictable play calling
- Old School run game
We want to think that Garrett will solve these supposed slights. We want to, by proxy, put those terrible attributes on Danny Langsdorf or his lack of influence on Mike Riley or Mike himself. And maybe John will be the silver bullet we want. Maybe that is what Riley needed and he knows it and that is why he hired Garrett. The issue is that we don’t know. We don’t know what he will be like, what he will do week from week and how he can improve the team.
So I think coaching is a huge question this year. If Banker and crew are able to make the adjustments they need to and use the experience and talent they have well, we could have an amazing year, much like 2012. If Garrett is the panacea for the details that have haunted the Beavers the last few years and can keep the team from silly mistakes and losing focus a few weeks a year, then the sky is the limit for 2014. If they are not able to rise above what has happened before, to improve on what is, quite frankly, a solid base and shore up a few common errors that has cost the Beavers 2 or so wins a year over the past ten years, then once again we will be left with what might have been and not what was.
2013 was a better team than their record indicated. They were about five minutes away from being a ten win team, so the amount of change needed is minimal. I just have no idea if we are going to see those changes, so coaching gets a question mark.
- Season starts today
- The Official Candy Report will come out every Tuesday
- Quarterback and defensive line will be strengths this year
- Offensive line and coaching are question marks
- Go Beavs.