Trying to crank this mailbag out before covering the Tempe NCAA baseball regional, so any replies like their usual verve or are just flat dumb, blame baseball.
To the notes.
Eric from Albany, Ore., writes: I get that Oregon State lost to Wazzu last year. I get that. No offense to Wazzu fans, but as a Beaver fan, I was as embarrassed as the next guy. Can we get passed that now? Most of the media is acting like our metaphorical wagon has not only lost it's wheels, but that it has been set on fire, shortly before blowing into thousands of tiny pieces. FACT: OSU has finished in the top 3 of the Pac-10, 3 out of the last 4 years. I'm kinda disappointed by the continual disrespect. We have probably the 2nd or 3rd best receiving core coming out of spring. The third best quarterback in the conference, who had a pretty darn good year considering his O-Line was trash. Our line looks better on both sides of the ball, and linebacker play is dramatically better. Let's not forget that while the Beavs finished 5-7 last year, they had the toughest schedule in the nation. IN THE NATION. I think many people have counted us out of the race, and we have the potential to be a VERY good team. I'm not saying we should be favored above Stanford, or Oregon, but can we get realistic about what's going on in Corvallis? Worse then 5-7? Come on Ted, you don't really believe that... do you?
Ted Miller: Not sure what you mean by "continual disrespect."
If you're frustrated that the so-called punditry doesn't seem to think Oregon State will be in the Pac-12 North Division mix next fall, well, there are plenty of reasons why.
For me, the Beavers' chief concerns are both lines. Unlike many folks, I'm more skeptical about the D-line than the O-line, which at least welcomes back four starters. The Beavers lost their two best defensive linemen to the NFL draft -- tackle Stephen Paea and end Gabe Miller -- and the unit didn't play particularly well in 2010.
As for your assertions: second or third best group of receivers? With a healthy, James Rodgers the Beavers have a good group of receivers -- indeed, maybe the second or third best in the conference. But Rodgers status after a severe knee injury is unclear. Without Rodgers, the Beavers would rank in the middle of the conference at the position.
Third best quarterback? Er, no. Ryan Katz has plenty of potential, but he falls behind Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley, Darron Thomas, Nick Foles and Jeff Tuel in terms of what he's actually accomplished on the field. Keep in mind: Katz was seventh in the conference in passing efficiency in 2010.
You write: "Our line looks better on both sides of the ball, and linebacker play is dramatically better." I didn't see the Beavers practice this spring, but the coverage I read didn't include the same level of optimism. For one, the Beavers are replacing two starters at OLB, and the pecking order at MLB is still uncertain. I know folks are excited about Michael Doctor and Cameron Collins, but they haven't done anything in a real game to support your level of certainty.
Based what we know today, I'd say six or seven wins is a realistic projection for Oregon State. Wouldn't be shocked with eight wins. Or five.
That said: Through the years, I've learned to never write off Oregon State, even after a slow start, which is practically an annual event in Corvallis.
Last season, in fact, I was among the folks projecting the Beavers as a nationally ranked team that would finish in the top-three of the conference.
Further, some of you Beavers fans might recall that I've seem to have some sort of odd, reverse predictive power with Oregon State: I pick the Beavers to win; they lose. I pick them to lose; they win.
So if my expectations for Oregon State aren't terribly high in 2011, well, maybe that's a good thing.
Bob from Raleigh, N.C., writes: There was some talk over spring ball that the Cats might redshirt QB Matt Scott to save him for next year, barring an injury to Foles. Any new word on that?
Ted Miller: That's the plan: If Nick Foles stays healthy, the Wildcats will try to redshirt Matt Scott this season so he can come back in 2012 and compete with Rutgers transfer Tom Savage for the starting job.
Derek from Pullman writes: If a team has a strong passing game and weak run game, should they be more worried about a strong secondary or strong rushing defense?For example, my Cougs should have no problem moving the ball through the air. And while I have a lot of hope in Galvin and Mitz, our running game is definitely the much larger question.Will our offense fair better as a one dimensional assault against a strong rushing defense but weak secondary? Or will not being able to move the ball at all on the ground hurt our aerial attack too much?
Ted Miller: If I were to advise you what you should most worry about, it would be a team with a great pass rush more than a good secondary.
Nothing is more critical for the Cougars this year than keeping Jeff Tuel healthy. He was sacked 51 times last year, so you know he's tough. But it's hard to imagine he can survive another 50 sack season intact.
Tuel has a strong group of receivers. If he gets time to throw, it won't matter how good the secondary is.
But here's the thing: If the Cougars can run at all -- say 120 or so yards per game -- that will make life much easier for an O-line trying to slow down a pass rush. And life much more difficult for a secondary that has to pay attention to run support.
Ted from Secretville, USA writes: I know that USC isn't eligible for the post season for this following season, and I'm not gonna bring it up. But the question I have is that do they still get the BCS Money cut?Last year Oregon, and Stanford both made BSC bowl games. Did USC still get the money from both teams making the BCS bowls? Or did they get left out because they weren't eligible?
Ted Miller: The NCAA penalties haven't -- and won't -- affect USC's football revenue. The Trojans will get a full share of BCS cash, as well as TV money, this year just as they did last year.
The truth is a two-year bowl ban likely will end up saving USC money because most teams run a deficit when they play in bowl games.
Liberal Duck from Eugene, Ore., writes: When I look at your picture I have to wonder why you aren't more tanned. For crying out loud, you live in Scottsdale. It's not like you're from Eugene or something.
Ted Miller: Many have noted the same thing.
I'm a vampire. The sun is not an option.
Please, no stakes through the chest if you see me this fall.