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2014 Fierce 40 Previews: #33 Oregon State

by DJ Boyer on Jul. 10, 2014

#33 Oregon State Beavers

 

2013 Recap:

7-6 was a record the team limped towards. After an embarrassing loss to Eastern Washington in the opener, Oregon State ran off six consecutive wins before five straight losses when they hit the meat and potatoes of the conference schedule. They backed into their bowl game and with a win over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl, they salvaged the season on winning terms.

 

Coaching:

Mike Reilly has been at Oregon State for 13 seasons in two separate stints leaving briefly to coach the Chargers in the NFL. So Reilly is comfortable in Corvalis and one of the mainstays in the PAC-12.

 

Offense

Quarterbacks/Running Backs:

A PAC-12 record 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns gets you on the radar for a lot of NFL teams. A little surprised Sean Mannion didn't go pro last year when his favorite target, Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks, announced he was going pro himself. If Mannion were in another conference he may have went pro. With Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley both available this season, the PAC-12 is becoming the quarterback conference as the draft prospects are off the charts. Mannion has good size and touch, but has a few quirks in his delivery and is not the most mobile quarterback on the planet. He hangs in the pocket and will take a hit when he knows one is coming and does a great job of putting balls where only his receivers can reach them.

Oregon State finished near the bottom of the conference running the football but things aren't all bad as the top rushers are back and they seem to be better at catching the football than running with it. With Cooks gone expect running back Storm Woods to be one of the benefactors. Woods and backup Terron Ward combined for 1,100 yards last season but they finished 11th in the conference overall averaging less than 100 yards on the ground per game.

Best Draft Prospect: Sean Mannion QB 2nd Round 2015.

 

 

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends:

Conner Hamlett is the best prospect for Oregon State despite the fact that he won’t have a lot of catches, even with Sean Mannion throwing the football. Hamlett is a complete tight end that is utilized for his blocking as much as his receiving skills. He will be a great red zone target once again for Mannion and try to improve upon his 5 touchdown total. Hamlett should see that number rise as he was second on the team in receiving touchdowns and someone will try to make up for the 16 that came from Brandin Cooks. Richard Mullaney is a prospect for 2016 and he is coming back after posting a 52-catch season. Besides Hamlett, the real key will be Storm Woods and Terron Ward, who had 81 catches between them a season ago. Oregon State uses their running backs to catch the football more than any other team in the PAC-12 and I expect their catches to actually increase this season.

Best Draft Prospect: Connor Hamlett TE 4th Round 2015.

 

Offensive Line:

The biggest area of concern for Oregon State on offense is without question the offensive line. Not because three starters were lost but because it is the second consecutive year where Oregon State had some big recruits that looked bound to be Beavers, have a change of heart at the last minute. Oregon State has a true blue chipper in junior Isaac Seumalo at center although he may wind up playing at guard for them in 2014. Seumalo has experience at multiple positions but center looks to be the most natural fit for him especially at the next level. Guard Sean Harlow started as a freshman and he showed signs of being better than advertised. Players like Gavin Andrews, Bobby Keenan are new starters at tackle and both have had issues with consistency and didn’t get praise from their respective coaches during the spring. The bench is a bit depleted. Oregon State needs to stay healthy and provide more running lanes in order for teams to not just focus on Mannion throwing the football.

Best Draft Prospect: Isaac Seumalo C 3rd Round 2016.

 

Defense

 

Defensive Line:

Scott Crichton leaving early for the NFL was a blow to the Beavers and its leaves them with only 1 returning starter from a year ago in senior defensive end Dylan Wynn. No returning players along the line had more than 1 sack last season so Oregon State needs to ensure that they have a consistent pass rush. There has been no formal announcement as to the starters at defensive tackle so Siale Hautau and Noke Tago seem to be the best guess we can come up with. Jalen Grimble is a player Oregon State should use more often but he seems to be more of a motor guy and he will have his snaps limited. Lack of pass rush caused the big meltdown for Oregon State that led to the 49-46 defeat against Eastern Washington to start the season.

Best Draft Prospect: N/A

 

Linebackers:

D.J. Alexander and Jabral Johnson bring stability to a linebacker group that is much better than the credit they seem to receive. Johnson led all players along the front seven with 94 stops while Alexander had 63 despite missing 4 games. Oregon State has hinted at using schemes which will involve more pass rushing involvement from the linebacker positions. Expect young Rommel Mageo to get in on the action as well. Oregon State has to help in run support and not just worry about getting to the quarterback since they finished 88th in run defense a season ago. As a unit Oregon State was #100 overall in total defense. If that happens this year a winning record is highly unlikely.

Best Draft Prospect: D.J. Alexander LB UFA 2015.

 

Secondary:

The secondary is the strongest portion of the Oregon State defense to preview. Cornerback Steven Nelson is thought by most to be the jewel of the secondary and by looking at the stats, six interceptions will show you he was effective and can make big plays. Tyrequek Zimmerman, who led the team in tackles, was the most valuable component to the secondary a season ago and is currently listed as a 4th round prospect for the upcoming draft. Three of the four players from the secondary overall are returning starters and a case can be made for all three seniors that they will find their way onto NFL rosters, either through the draft or as undrafted free agents. Even better for Oregon State they have youngsters like freshman Dashon Hunt at corner and then Zack Robinson, who is a player that can play corner or safety in the fold. Robinson is ready to contribute this season and can take over next year when the senior Beavers graduate. This is a unit that Pac-12 teams cannot take lightly.

Best Draft Prospect: Tyrequek Zimmerman S 4th Round 2015.

 

Special Teams:

Trevor Romaine had a solid year but the Beavers hope he gets back to 2012 form when he was among the best in the country with field goal accuracy. Romaine has good distance on his kickoffs and is a legitimate prospect at the next level. Victor Boldin looks like he will replace Brandin Cooks in the return game and should handle both kickoffs and punts. Punter Keith Kostol is an average punter who needs to work on speeding his release and mechanics. The part for Oregon State that needs to improve are the coverage units which ranked in the bottom half of the Pac-12 a season ago.

Best Draft Prospect: Trevor Romaine K 7th Round 2015.

 

 

Schedule:

First Oregon State needs to avoid the upset bug in week one where Portland State cannot do what Eastern Washington did to the Beavers a season ago. The back part of the schedule, in particular the final three games against Arizona State, at Washington, and a home date with the Oregon Ducks, are where Oregon State needs to finish strong. Oregon State has a pair of tough road games with USC and Stanford but they do avoid UCLA on the schedule.

 

Draft Outlook:

Sean Mannion is the jewel here as many teams want to see how he will perform now that Brandin Cooks has taken his talents to the NFL. There are a lot of secondary prospects, so Oregon State will have a presence at the draft, although just not bigger names like Cooks and Crichton from this past year.

 

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