Part II of our chat with Oregon State offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf.
DL: It's really a challenge to try to find different ways to get them the ball. I think they can, though. I think they both are becoming masters of what they do. They are continuing to work on running routes and catching the ball. I think through pretty extensive offseason study of our running game, we can find some things that Quizz could do better in terms of some of his reads and how he runs some particular plays that we have. James I know has concentrated on running better routes and being more consistent catching the ball. So I think they have more improvement ahead of them. At the same time, we have to continue to find ways to get them the ball because they are so dangerous with it in their hands.
Other than those two: Who are your big playmakers?
DL: Markus Wheaton is playing the 'X' position right now and he has got a lot of talent. He can really run. He was a talented high school player and a great recruit for us. We're looking for some big things from him. I think our line is very solid -- we've got a veteran group there and are only losing one off of that. We've got to find some depth up front. We've got to find a little more depth at the flanker and receiver position behind James. We've got a couple of guys in mind who are battling that out. I like how our tight ends have played. Joe Halahuni had a good season last year but was kind of a part-time player for us. He only played about 50 percent of the snaps. We've got to get more production out of him as a blocker. I think he's a talented receiver right now but he's got to improve as a blocker. But he's a pretty exciting player for us. We've got some weapons I believe we can do some fun stuff with.
You mention the line with four of five starters back: Where do you expect to see the most improvement?
DL: I think our tackles [junior Mike Remmers and sophomore Michael Philipp] are good players and I think they have a ton of improving to do. They are solid guys and they are young. Remmers has continually improved and has a chance to be outstanding. He has put on weight and gotten a lot stronger in the weight room. He was already an athletic kid, but he came on toward the end of last year and really became a stand-out player for us. We're really looking for him to continue on that path, as well as Philipp, who was a freshman All-American, but at the same time has a lot of work to do and a lot of growing up to do. Michael has gotten some accolades already but we feel like there's a lot of improvement for him still to continue to work on. If he does and he follows through, he could be an outstanding one, too. So those two bookend tackles, they are talented but that potential is only as good as they want to make it. The challenge for them is to work on their trade to become better players.
So what do you think about your new quarterback -- either Ryan Katz or Peter Lalich -- playing two of his first three games on the road vs. top-10 teams [TCU on Sept. 4 in Cowboys Stadium and at Boise State on Sept. 25]?
DL: That's not totally ideal [laughs]. It's going to be tough. I don't think there's a whole lot more pressure just because they're playing on the road. I think it's just that they're new. It would be the same amount of pressure if they were playing at home. But obviously noise is going to be a factor and some things they haven't experienced a lot of yet. That's a little disconcerting. But I think they are pretty poised guys and confident players. We've got to try to get them into situations and put some pressure on both of them to get them used to that atmosphere. That will be key once we get into fall camp especially.
You guys averaged 32 points and 411 yards per game last year: Can this crew improve those numbers with a new QB?
DL: I think so. The quarterback position will be a vital spot. He's got to be able to manage the offense and spread the ball around and get the ball into our playmakers hands. That will be a big deal. But we do have a lot of weapons and a veteran line. If we can improve in the run game, I think that will take some pressure off the quarterback. And, at the same time, we have some weapons on the perimeter. So if we can get the ball to Quizz in the run and pass game and we can get it to our weapons outside in our passing game and our tight end, we should be just fine. Like I said, if we can do a good job of running the ball, I think all that stuff plays out. It helps the play-action game. I think the scheme comes alive. Being versatile and not just relying on one thing. Being multi-dimensional will help the quarterback with what we are trying to do.