Pac-12: Andrew Seumalo

If the Dictionary of Phrases needs a demonstration of what "cautiously optimistic" sounds like, they might want to chat with Mark Banker about his Oregon State defense.

He makes a good case for optimism. And he's got reasons to be cautious.

It must be first said that Banker probably feels a lot better than he did a year ago when Beavers fans were doubting him, despite a distinguished track record of consistent success, both on the field and in terms of transforming under-the-radar recruits into NFL draft choices.

[+] EnlargeMark Banker
Jesse Beals/ Icon SMIDefensive coordinator Mark Banker is optimistic the Beavers can continue the growth they showed last season, when they ranked second in the Pac-12 and 22nd in the nation, giving up 20.6 points per game.
Yet after consecutive losing seasons in Corvallis, Banker and head coach Mike Riley were on the spot. The 2011 Beavers ranked seventh in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, surrendering 30.8 points per game, and they often were pushed around, yielding a conference-worst 196.8 yards rushing per game.

Few units in the Pac-12 improved as much as the Beavers' defense from 2011 to 2012. Last fall, the Beavers ranked second in the Pac-12 and 22nd in the nation, giving up just 20.6 points per game, a 10.2-point per game improvement. They also ranked third in run defense, holding foes to 129.5 yards per game in a conference with a lot of good running backs.

The difference? Better players, experience, staying healthy and a rejiggered defensive staff, says Banker.

As to what he sees for 2013, he said, "This group is more than capable."

He likes his defensive ends, Dylan Wynn and All-American candidate Scott Crichton. He's got two speedy, experienced outside linebackers in Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander. Three of four starters are back from a secondary that yielded just 14 touchdown passes last fall.

And yet.

He's replacing his middle linebacker Feti Taumoepeau, as well as do-everything backup Rueben Robinson. All-American cornerback Jordan Poyer is now playing for Chip Kelly in Philly. And he's got 644 pounds missing in the middle of his defensive line with the departure of tackles Castro Masaniai and Andrew Seumalo.

Let's start with the optimism. Banker loves underrated free safety Ryan Murphy.

"He can really play -- he's got the greatest chance of being drafted in a high position," Banker said. "He'll be one of the, if not the best, safety we've ever had here as this thing plays out. I hope I don't jinx him."

Further, he feels like he's got a pretty good competition for replacing Poyer, with experienced senior Sean Martin and talented junior college transfer Steve Nelson in a tight battle for the starting job, with the No. 2 guy likely filling a nickel role.

Banker likes true sophomore Joel Skotte stepping into the middle linebacker spot. While Skotte, who saw significant special teams action last season, isn't yet there physically, he's a smart player, the kind of guy who won't make mental mistakes in the middle of the Beavers' defense.

Further, the position isn't as critical to the Beavers' defense as it was in the past, because eight conference teams run no-huddle spread offenses.

"The basis of what we have to have at that position, [Skotte] has," Banker said. "But at the same time, with so many different spread types of offenses, we're in our sub packages quite a bit."

Which means Doctor, who made great strides in 2012, moves into the middle.

Banker admits some frustration trying to get Alexander in the right place to maximize his athletic potential. There were plenty of feast or famine moments with the speedy rising junior in 2012. Great plays followed by mental errors.

"There were quite a few times last year we'd take him out to let him know, No. 1, it's not acceptable and, No. 2, so we could get him squared away in the mental aspect of the game," Banker said.

Then there are the voids at defensive tackle. You can almost feel Banker rubbing a rabbits foot through the phone line.

"We're not so much uncertain, but we're not satisfied with our defensive tackle play," Banker said.

The Beavers welcome back reserves Mana Rosa and John Braun, but four junior college signees are expected to compete for the starting spots.

Edwin Delva and Siale Hautau both participated in spring practices. Hautau, however, broke his hand and missed most of the action, and Delva has a ways to go.

Kyle Peko, Charlie Tuaau and Lyndon Tulimasealii are scheduled to arrive for fall camp, but Banker sounded a cautionary note about all three being squared away academically.

"All three have significant work that they are doing in the classroom that they need to become eligible," he said.

The hope is that, of the tackles who do make it to camp, at least two will be Pac-12 ready. And maybe one or two others can adequately take up space.

"That's the biggest thing that I'm curious about: Where do they start? Where's the bottom? I hope they don't start down too low," Banker said.

Banker likes what he knows about his defense. And has his fingers crossed hopefully over what he's yet to find out.

Pac-12 2012 awards announced

November, 26, 2012
11/26/12
5:50
PM ET
The Pac-12 conference has announced its 2012 individual honors and all-conference first and second teams as voted on by the coaches.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marqise Lee, WR, USC.
Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year: Will Sutton, DE, Arizona State.
Freshman Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon.
Freshman Defensive Player of the Year: Leonard Williams, DE, USC.
Coach of the Year: David Shaw, Stanford.

FIRST-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Marcus Mariota, Fr., Oregon
RB Kenjon Barner, Sr., Oregon
RB Ka’Deem Carey, So., Arizona
WR Marqise Lee, So., USC
WR Markus Wheaton, Sr., Oregon State
TE Zach Ertz, Sr., Stanford
OL Hroniss Grasu, So., Oregon
OL Khaled Holmes, Sr., USC
OL Brian Schwenke, Sr., California
OL Xavier Su’a-Filo, So., UCLA
OL David Yankey, Jr., Stanford

SECOND-TEAM OFFENSE

QB Matt Scott, Sr., Arizona
RB Johnathan Franklin, Sr., UCLA
RB Stepfan Taylor, Sr., Stanford
WR Austin Hill, So., Arizona
WR Robert Woods, Jr., USC
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, So., Washington
OL Jeff Baca, Sr., UCLA
OL David Bakhtiari, Jr., Colorado
OL Sam Brenner, Sr., Utah
OL Kevin Danser, Sr., Stanford
OL Sam Schwartzstein, Sr., Stanford

FIRST-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Scott Crichton, So., Oregon State
DL Dion Jordan, Sr., Oregon
DL Star Lotulelei, Sr., Utah (2)
DL Will Sutton, Jr., Arizona State
LB Anthony Barr, Jr., UCLA
LB Trent Murphy, Sr., Stanford
LB Chase Thomas, Sr., Stanford (2)
DB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, So., Oregon
DB Jordan Poyer, Sr., Oregon State
DB Ed Reynolds, Jr., Stanford
DB Desmond Trufant, Sr., Washington

SECOND-TEAM DEFENSE

DL Henry Anderson, Jr., Stanford
DL Morgan Breslin, Jr., USC
DL Ben Gardner, Sr., Stanford
DL Datone Jones, Sr., UCLA
LB Kiko Alonso, Sr., Oregon
LB Michael Clay, Sr., Oregon
LB Brandon Magee, Sr., Arizona State
DB Deone Bucannon, Jr., Washington State
DB Alden Darby, Jr., Arizona State
DB T.J. McDonald, Sr., USC
DB Nickell Robey, Jr., USC

FIRST-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Vince D'Amato, Jr., California
P Jeff Locke, Sr., UCLA
RS Reggie Dunn, Sr., Utah
ST Jordan Jenkins, Sr., Oregon State

SECOND-TEAM SPECIALISTS

PK Andrew Furney, Jr., Washington State
P Josh Hubner, Sr., Arizona State
RS Marqise Lee, So., USC
ST David Allen, Sr., UCLA

ALL-PAC-12 HONORABLE MENTION
NOTES
  • By School: OREGON and STANFORD placed the most players on the first team with five selections each, followed by OREGON STATE with four.
  • By Class: Of the 26 first-team selections, 14 are seniors, five are juniors, six are sophomores and one freshman.
  • Unanimous: Only one player was named on the first-team ballot of all 12 head coaches--WR Marqise Lee of USC.
  • Two-time selections: Two players are repeat first-team selections from last year--DT Star Lotulelei of Utah, LB Chase Thomas of Stanford.
  • All-Academic: Two players were named to the first team on both the All-Pac-12 Team and the Pac-12 All-Academic Football Team--P Jeff Locke of UCLA, OL Khaled Holmes, USC. In addition, OL Kevin Danser of Stanford, DL Ben Gardner of Stanford and Michael Clay of Oregon were named second-team All-Academic and second-team All-Pac-12.
Tags:

Datone Jones, USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers, Washington Huskies, UCLA Bruins, Alex Debniak, Johnathan Franklin, Jeff Locke, Arizona State Sun Devils, Joseph Fauria, Matt Barkley, California Bears, Kenjon Barner, Usua Amanam, Markus Wheaton, Keelan Johnson, Stanford Cardinal, Jordan Poyer, Damien Thigpen, Will Sutton, Stepfan Taylor, Colorado Buffaloes, Wes Horton, Dion Jordan, Matt Scott, Arizona Wildcats, Brandon Magee, Oregon Ducks, Xavier Su\'a-Filo, Travis Long, Justin Glenn, Desmond Trufant, Vince D'Amato, Daniel Simmons, Chase Thomas, Deveron Carr, Shayne Skov, Evan Finkenberg, Isaac Remington, Dan Buckner, Sean Parker, Cassius Marsh, Robert Woods, Xavier Grimble, George Uko, Nickell Robey, Hayes Pullard, Keenan Allen, Taylor Kelly, Chris McCain, Hroniss Grasu, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Cooper, T.J. McDonald, Jake Fischer, Anthony Barr, Taylor Hart, Kiko Alonso, Osahon Irabor, Brian Schwenke, Steve Williams, Terrance Mitchell, Drew Schaefer, Michael Clay, Ryan Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Levine Toilolo, Chris Coyle, DeAnthony Thomas, Andrew Abbott, Kyle Quinn, Brett Hundley, Jake Fisher, Terrence Stephens, Terrence Brown, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kasen Williams, Jordan Richards, Shaq Evans, Deone Bucannon, Tony Burnett, David Shaw, Bishop Sankey, Danny Shelton, Marqise Lee, Kevin Danser, Rashad Ross, Sam Schwartzstein, David Yankey, Drew Terrell, John White IV, Dion Bailey, Austin Hill, Star Lotulelei, Brian Blechen, Jake Murphy, Alex Carter, Alden Darby, Joe Kruger, Reggie Dunn, Trevor Romaine, Colt Lyerla, Isaac Seumalo, Tevita Stevens, Andrew Furney, Andre Heidari, Sean Sellwood, Josh Hubner, Kyle Negrete, Henry Anderson, Scott Crichton, Rashaad Reynolds, Ka'Deem Carey, Shaq Thompson, D.J. Foster, Brendan Bigelow, Ben Gardner, Trevor Reilly, Darragh O'Neill, Andrew Hudson, Ty Montgomery, Cameron Fleming, Trent Murphy, Sam Brenner, Kevin Hogan, David Bakhtiari, Marcus Mariota, Yuri Wright, Kenneth Crawley, Leonard Williams, Grant Enger, Brandin Cooks, Jared Tevis, Travis Feeney, Avery Sebastian, John Martinez, Ed Reynolds, Daniel Munyer, Elliott Bosch, Morgan Breslin, Darryl Monroe, Marion Grice, Carl Bradford, Nate Fakahafua, Silas Redd, Jeremiah Poutasi, Jake Brendel, Christian Powell, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Brett Bartolone, Teondray Caldwell, Andrew Seumalo, Daniel Zychlinski, David Allen, Jaxon Hood, Alex Lewis, Marques Moseley, Will Perciak, Wade Keliikippi, Cyrus Coen

Pac-12 All-Academic team

November, 20, 2012
11/20/12
6:30
PM ET
The Pac-12 conference has announced its 2012 All-Academic team. To be eligible, the player must have a minimum 3.0 overall grade-point average and be either a starter or significant contributor.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB Connor Wood, Colorado, So., 3.55, Finance
RB Jared Baker, Arizona, RS, Fr., 3.56, Undeclared
RB Patrick Skov, Stanford, So., 3.41, Undeclared
WR Andrei Lintz, Washington State, RS Sr., 3.72, Sport Management
WR Luke Matthews, Utah (2), Sr., 3.69, Mass Communication
TE Koa Ka'ai, Oregon, RS Fr., 3.94, History
OL Chris Adcock, California, So., 3.57, Business Administration
OL Jake Brendel, UCLA, RS Fr., 3.60, Math/Applied Science
OL Khaled Holmes, USC , Sr., 3.31, Communication
OL Tevita Stevens, Utah (2) , Sr., 3.54, Spanish
OL Matt Summers-Gavin, California, Sr., 3.27, Political Science

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL Henry Anderson, Stanford, Jr., 3.43, Political Science
DL Nate Bonsu, Colorado, Jr., 3.42, International Affairs
DL Will Pericak, Colorado (2), RS Sr., 3.45, Accounting
DL Danny Shelton, Washington, So., 3.47, Anthropology
LB Dave Fagergren, Utah, Sr., 3.51, Business
LB Jake Fischer, Arizona (2) , Jr., 3.32, Marketing
LB Brandon Johnson, Arizona State, RS Jr., 3.44, Sociology
DB Brian Blechen, Utah, Jr., 3.18, Sociology
DB Jordan Richards, Stanford, So., 3.34, Undeclared
DB Eric Rowe, Utah, So., 3.54, Undeclared
DB Jared Tevis, Arizona, So., 3.25, Finance
PK John Bonano, Arizona (3), Sr., 3.93,Physiology
P Jeff Locke, UCLA (3), RS Sr., 3.70, Economics
ST Justin Gorman, Colorado RS So., 3.61, Finance
(2) Two-time first-team All-Academic selection; (3) Three-time first-team All-Academic selection

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE

QB Matt Barkley, USC, Sr., 3.21, Communication
RB Kenny Bassett, Oregon, So., 3.31, Business Administration
RB Steven Manfro, UCLA, RS Fr., 3.20, Undeclared
WR Dustin Ebner, Colorado, RS Sr., 3.47, Integrative Physiology
WR Nelson Spruce, Colorado , RS Fr., 3.73, Business
TE Michael Cooper, Arizona, So., 3.92, Pre-Business
OL Trace Biskin, Arizona, Sr., 3.29, Political Science
OL Zach Brevick, Washington State, RS Jr., 3.23, Entrepreneurship
OL Brad Cotner, Colorado, RS Fr., 3.34, Arts and Sciences
OL Kevin Danser, Stanford, Sr., 3.13, Biomechanical Engineering
OL Stephane Nembot, Colorado , RS Fr., 3.20, International Affairs

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE

DL Nate Fakahafua, Utah, So., 3.19, Undeclared
DL Ben Gardner, Stanford, Sr., 3.01, Science, Technology and Society
DL Taylor Hart, Oregon, Jr., 3.17, Sociology
DL Andrew Seumalo, Oregon State, Sr., 3.17, Finance
LB Michael Clay, Oregon, Sr., 3.10, Family and Human Services
LB V.J. Fehoko, Utah, So., 3.31, Economics
LB Travis Long, Washington State, Sr., 3.02, Management and Operations
DB Isaac Archuleta, Colorado, RS Fr., 3.09, Business
DB Tyré Ellison, California, Sr., 3.01, Social Welfare
DB Ronnie Harris, Stanford, So., 3.13, Undeclared
DB Charles Henderson, Utah, RS Fr., 3.47, Undeclared
PK William Oliver, Colorado , So., 3.66, Management
P Sean Sellwood, Utah, Sr., 3.70, Exercise and Sport Science
ST Richard Yates, Colorado, RS Fr., 3.60, Mechanical Engineering

For the list of all players who were named honorable mention, you can see the complete release from the Pac-12 conference here.

Who will transform tomorrow?

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
9:00
AM ET
So far this space has been reserved for offensive and defensive skill players. Guys whose individual performances stand out. Often in the process, we fail to acknowledge an individual offensive lineman for the simple fact that individual's usually get lumped in as "the offensive line."

Well, tomorrow true freshman Isaac Seumalo faces the stiffest test of his young career when the Oregon State center and the Beavers host the Utah Utes. And we're putting the 6-foot-4, 290-pound youngster on the spot.

Lining up opposite Seumalo will be Star Lotulelei, all 320 pounds of him. He's a consensus top 10 draft pick -- some have even put him in the top three -- and he's every offensive coordinator's primary concern at the point of attack.

Seumalo will be making his sixth straight start, and he's already battle-tested having faced good defensive fronts from Wisconsin, UCLA and BYU. But those teams don't have a Lotulelei. No one does.

If you watched the USC-Utah game, you saw in the first couple of minutes how disruptive he can be to centers, and USC's Khaled Holmes is one of the best in the country. He and Holmes battled it out in one of the better lineman v. lineman slugfests in the country this year.

Seumalo's importance this week can't be overstated enough. Aside from the fact that the Beavers are off to their best start since 1939 and ranked No. 8 in the BCS standings, they have a quarterback who is making just his second career start. Cody Vaz showed plenty in the game at BYU that he's more than capable of running the Oregon State offense. BYU's defensive front is good -- but again -- no one has a Lotulelei.

This year Seumalo became the first true freshman center to start for Oregon State since 1978. His brother Andrew is a team captain on the defensive line and his father, Joe, is OSU's defensive line coach. So he knows a little something about defensive linemen.

Considered the jewel of Oregon State's 2012 recruiting class, the pressure is on the true freshman to play the best game of his career against one of the most dominant defensive players in the country.

Time to grow up.

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