Pac-12: Colin Kelly

Oregon State season preview

August, 14, 2013
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We continue our day-by-day snapshots of each Pac-12 team heading into the 2013 season, in reverse alphabetical order, with the Oregon State Beavers.

Oregon State

Coach: Mike Riley (81-67, 13th year)

2012 record: 9-4 (6-3 Pac-12 North)

Key losses: WR Markus Wheaton, CB Jordan Poyer, DT Castro Masaniai, RT Colin Kelly, TE Colby Prince, DT Andrew Seumalo.

Key returnees: WR Brandin Cooks, RB Storm Woods, DE Scott Crichton, LB D.J. Alexander, CB Rashaad Reynolds, Michael Doctor, S Ryan Murphy, DE Dylan Wynn.

Newcomer to watch: With the departure of Poyer, the coaching staff will look to replace him with a rotation of Sean Martin -- who saw some time last season -- and newcomer Steven Nelson, rated by one service as the No. 2 junior college cornerback in the country. Nelson, once a Georgia commit, comes from the College of Sequoias and, by all accounts, has had a solid spring and fall camp thus far.

Biggest games in 2013: The Civil War at Oregon (Nov. 29) is always huge. But Stanford (Oct. 26) and Washington (Nov. 23) -- both home games -- will be big for establishing the pecking order in the Pac-12 North.

[+] EnlargeOregon State's
Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesReceiver Brandin Cooks will surely be the top target for the winner of Oregon State's QB race.
Biggest question mark heading into 2013: On the surface, the outcome of the quarterback competition seems like the biggest question. And it’s an important one. Yet Sean Mannion and Cody Vaz have both shown they can win big games. Who they’ll be throwing to, however, might be the more important question. Without a doubt, Cooks is an explosive playmaker. But we’re still waiting to see who steps up opposite him. Much of Cooks’ success last season (67 catches, 1,151 yards, five touchdowns) was because of Wheaton playing on the other side. Double-teaming either one was a nightmare because the other would break out. Kevin Cummings is a solid slot receiver. But the Beavers will need someone like Obum Gwacham or Richard Mullaney to provide a threat that opens things up for Cooks, or vice versa.

Forecast: The Beavers are a really interesting team this season because of the way their schedule shapes up. You have to think they’ll be favorites in their first seven games (though at Utah, at San Diego State and at California probably won’t be walkovers). Just before Halloween, it starts to get nasty, with five straight against teams that will likely be in or hovering around the Top 25: Stanford, USC, ASU, Washington and Oregon.

It’s not hard to believe the Beavers could replicate last year’s 6-0 start, and possibly even press it to 7-0 before the schedule ramps up. There are a couple of ways to look at it; it’s a good thing because it will give Riley more time to settle on either Mannion or Vaz, and it allows ample time for the receiving corps to come together. There are also some plug-and-play JC defensive linemen who could also use a few warm-up games.

The flip side is that outside of San Diego State, the Beavers won’t be facing an FBS team that had a winning record last year until Stanford comes to town. How much will we really know about this team? Unlike last season -- when the Beavers scored quality wins at home against No. 13 Wisconsin and on the road at No. 19 UCLA and BYU in the first half of the season -- the Beavers will probably achieve a high ranking, though the résumé won’t be there to support it.

But as they say, you can only play the teams on your schedule, and Oregon State should come out of the gates blazing.

Aside from Cooks, the Beavers have an explosive running back, Storm Woods. The ground game took a big step forward in 2012, and Woods is on the verge of becoming a 1,000-yard rusher (940 yards last year, 13 touchdowns). The offensive line continues to improve and returns four of five starters across the front -- headlined by center Isaac Seumalo, who was phenomenal as a freshman and has emerged as one of the top anchors in the country.

The secondary should also be one of the best in the league with the Martin/Nelson duo playing alongside Ryan Murphy, Tyrequek Zimmerman and Reynolds.

No doubt excitement will bubble over if the Beavers start 7-0. But what they do after those first seven will go a long way toward determining the program’s success in 2013.
Spring is a time of improvement. But who is improving the most? Your bloggers debate the position groups they expect to be better in 2013.

Ted Miller: One of the most memorable images of the bowl season was Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz getting sacked by Texas in the Alamo Bowl.

It went like this: Sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack, sack. And sack.

I will now pause while all of you hassle Oregon State fans about that so we can then resume requisite decorum.

[+] EnlargeAlex Okafor
Brendan Maloney/USA TODAY SportsOregon State's offensive line gave up 10 sacks in a loss at the Alamo Bowl.
All good? Well, enjoy it now, because the Beavers aren't going to yield that sort of quarterback feast in 2013. In fact, the Beavers offensive line, which was actually vastly improved in 2012 compared to the previous fall, is going to be pretty salty this go-around.

Four of five starters are back, and there are experienced backups and a solid group of youngsters providing depth. Among those returning starters is true sophomore Isaac Seumalo, who will push Oregon's Hroniss Grasu for the title of "Pac-12's best center." He and guard Grant Enger were honorable mention All-Pac-12 last year.

That's a good start, but the best news might be that talented but mercurial left tackle Michael Philipp, who has 35 career starts, is playing "the best ball of his life" according to head coach Mike Riley. The entire unit has 88 career starts, and experienced sophomore Gavin Andrews is the frontrunner to replace Colin Kelly at right tackle.

Further, projecting improvement is logical, just based on how much better the unit was in 2012 compared to 2011, if at least we can forget the Alamo. The Beavers rushed for just 86.9 yards per game in 2011, which ranked 118th in the nation. They improved to 124.2 in 2012. In the 12 games before getting Alex Okafor'd, the Beavers yielded 23 sacks, compared to 27 in 12 games 2011.

But an offensive line looking good is often about more than the line itself, and the skill components of the offense should help the Beavers cause up front. Running back Storm Woods stepped up last year, falling just short of 1,000 yards. He'll get that total this fall, and his backup, Terron Ward, is solid. Taking another step forward in the running game will help protect whoever wins the starting quarterback job, where two veterans, Vaz and Sean Mannion, are competing.

Part of winning the quarterback job will be pocket presence. As in, get rid of the freaking football before you get sacked.

In 2011, the Beavers had one of the worst offensive lines in the Pac-12. Next fall, count on it being one of the best.

Kevin Gemmell: Sometimes, you just have to go out on a limb. So here and now, I'm declaring that Colorado's pass defense is going to be better in 2013. Bold statement? Perhaps. Well, not really.

When you consider the numbers it's really not too much of a stretch. Because they actually can't get much worse.

  • Last nationally in pass defense efficiency.
  • Last nationally in passing touchdowns allowed (39).
  • 118th out of 120 schools in interceptions (3).
  • Colorado surrendered five or more passing touchdowns four times in 2012.

But fear not, Ralphie retinues, because it's going to get better. And here's why.

Last year Kenneth Crawley took 642 snaps at cornerback -- second most ever for a Colorado true freshman. Marques Mosley took 524 -- fourth most. Yuri Wright took 310 -- 12th most. That's 1,476 snaps from true freshmen in the secondary. And with each snap -- hopefully -- they learned a little something about college football and the speed of the game.

This is a quarterback driven league. Consider some of the quarterbacks Colorado faced in 2012; Brett Hundley, Taylor Kelly, Matt Barkley, Marcus Mariota ... those are high-efficiency guys operating high-efficiency offenses. The end result was almost predictable when you throw three true freshmen -- just three months removed from high school -- against some of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the country.

Here's your diploma. Now go cover Robert Woods. It was trial by thermonuclear detonation.

But just as the ugliness of 2012 was predictable, so is the expectation of improvement in 2013. With a year of experience and a full offseason in a collegiate training program, those pups are going to get better. It's even possible that by 2014 Colorado might have the most experienced defensive backfield in the league consisting of some of the Pac-12's most feared pass defenders.

Safety Terrel Smith is the veteran of the group and behind Mosley at the other safety spot is another senior in Parker Orms. Behind Crawley are a pair of juniors -- Josh Moten and Harrison Hunter. There is a some good depth. The Buffs actually have 17 players listed as DBs on their roster. Numbers aren't the problem.

Plus there are two full-time coaches working the secondary -- Charles Clark handling the safeties and Andy LaRussa working with the cornerbacks. Both of them were with Mike MacIntyre during his San Jose State reclamation project. No one is expecting them to be a lockdown defense overnight. But with the experience gained last season, they should show respectable improvement.

Oregon State spring wrap

May, 14, 2012
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2011 overall record: 3-9

2011 conference record: 3-6 (fifth in North)

Returning starters: offense: 8; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners
QB Sean Mannion, DB Jordan Poyer, WR Markus Wheaton, WR Brandin Cooks, DE Scott Crichton, DB Rashaad Reynolds, OL Josh Andrews, S Anthony Watkins.

Key losses
WR James Rodgers, S Lance Mitchell, C Grant Johnson, DT Fred Thompson (passed away last December, could have been in contention for starting spot).

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Malcolm Agnew* (423 yards)
Passing: Sean Mannion* (3,328 yards)
Receiving: Markus Wheaton* (986 yards)
Tackles: Anthony Watkins* (85)
Sacks: Scott Crichton* (6)
Interceptions: Jordan Poyer* (4)

Spring answers

1. Running game revival: Head coach Mike Riley has been adamant that his team will be better at running the ball in 2012. The Beavers rotated through four backs last season -- mostly because of injuries -- but redshirt freshman Storm Woods has come on strong in the spring. Though a pecking order hasn't been established, it's safe to say that the Beavers will have a deep rotation.

2. Secondary depth is solid: With Watkins sidelined during the spring with a shoulder injury, it opened up opportunities for Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman to replace the graduated Lance Mitchell. Murphy, last year's nickelback, looks like he's won the job to start along Watkins. Pair that with Poyer and Reynolds and the Beavers should be solid in the defensive backfield.

3. LB corps filling out: D.J. Welch looks like the heir apparent to Cam Collins on the strong side. Feti Unga, who was among the conference leaders in tackles last year prior to a knee injury, appears to be back and ready to go for the fall. Michael Doctor also appears more comfortable as he readies for his second year as a starter. Rueben Robinson and Cade Cowdin should provide the Beavers with some good depth across the board.

Fall questions

1. Offensive line issues: With only eight healthy linemen this spring, there wasn't much of an opportunity to fill out a starting five. Riley said he doesn't like leaving spring without knowing who his starters are, but it's just something they have to deal with. Andrews helps solidify the line and Grant Enger and Colin Kelly will be in the mix when they return from injury. But with a big influx of freshmen, Riley has essentially said all positions are up for grabs.

2. Has Mannion taken the next step? If you ask Riley, he has. If you ask Mannion, he has. But it won't be known until he steps on to the field. He showed last season that he has the potential to be an A-list quarterback in this conference. Better decisions should improve his 16-to-18 touchdown to interception ratio and an improved running game will almost certainly be a plus.

3. Who is No. 3 at WR? We know about Wheaton. We know that Cooks is up and coming. But who is going to be that No. 3 option for Mannion? Jordan Bishop is penciled in as the slot guy, but he missed his second straight spring. That opened the door for Obum Gwacham to emerge as the potential No. 3. He's Wheaton's immediate backup on the outside, but Riley couldn't help but gush about Gwacham's performance this spring.

Spring notebook: Oregon State

April, 27, 2012
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As Oregon State wraps up its spring session Saturday with its Fan Fest activities at Reser Stadium, head coach Mike Riley said he's feeling pretty good about what the Beavers accomplished this spring.

Last year's growing pains, which led to a 3-9 season, also produced a lot of first-time starters who now have some game experience. In fact, there will be 27 players on the 2012 roster who have started at least one game. That depth allowed Riley to really focus on the details this spring.

"I'm not sure we got the whole volume of what we wanted to get in, but we got to repeat a lot of stuff," Riley said. "We took this spring as a fundamentals look. We tried not to be too exotic. We worked on the timing of certain routes with the receivers and quarterbacks, worked on the details of fundamentals and blocking schemes. It was a good mixture of coverages, but not too much that we can't get good reps. Volume hasn't been great, but our work on the details has vastly improved."

[+] EnlargeOregon State's Sean Mannion
Jim Z. Rider/US PRESSWIREOregon State QB Sean Mannion said he improved his confidence and throwing accuracy this spring.
Riley said he's liked the growth of the quarterbacks, citing an improvement in efficiency and overall production. Starter Sean Mannion said he's a much more confident quarterback as well.

"The Sean Mannion now is more comfortable," Mannion said, when asked to describe himself from last year to this year. "I think he's more experienced. I think he's improved his accuracy, improved his decision making. But that being said, I know there is a long way to go."

The biggest frustration for Riley this spring was the lack of depth on the offensive line. With players like Colin Kelly and Grant Enger out, Riley said it was a good chance for other players to compete. Plus, with an influx of offensive linemen coming in this fall, there is more uncertainty across the line than any other position group on the Beavers' roster.

"You always want to come out of spring set on starters," Riley said. "But we're not going to be able to do that on the offensive line. We'll still be scratching and clawing to find the right group of guys."

Riley said he's been very pleased with the development of safeties Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman. With Jordan Poyer and Rashaad Reynolds returning at both cornerback spots, Riley thinks he's got a pretty good secondary.

"I like the look of that group a lot," he said. "They are all really instinctual players as well as talented. That goes a long way to being successful. Reynolds has grown a lot and Poyer is a proven commodity and it's been fun watching the two safeties grow."

Oregon State also was one of its deepest wide receiving corps in years. And Riley has previously said he wants to take more shots down the field this season. He's moved Obum Gwacham into the slot as a third receiver (though he'll continue to back up Markus Wheaton) in an effort to get more playmakers on the field.

"It's a good step for the growth of this offense and we really like [Gwacham] in that spot," Riley said. "We've gotten a good look at him inside and we've been really pleased how he's adapted to the role."
Points, points, points. This is the Pac-12 after all, where offense rules. Last season, five Pac-12 teams ranked in the top 30 in scoring average. Others, however, weren't as explosive. Colorado (12th in the conference/109th nationally), Oregon State (11/100), UCLA (10/88) and Utah (9/tied for 74th) all had trouble consistently finding pay dirt. So this week we're looking at which of these four teams has the best chance to show significant offensive improvement.

Ted Miller: Oregon State’s offense was bad last year. That’s the obvious bad news. More obvious bad news: It was bad for a fundamental reason: It couldn’t run the ball, ranking 118th in the nation with just 86.9 yards per game. The end result was an offense that ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in scoring (21.8 points per game) and 10th in total offense (373.7 yards per game). And while we’re being party poopers, why not note there are only eight healthy offensive linemen this spring, which makes it impossible to field a full second team?

Ah, but we come not to bury the Beavers, but to praise them! This half of the Pac-12 blog is providing Oregon State fans an iron-clad guarantee: The Beavers' offense will be better in 2012. Perhaps much better. And that’s why we believe they will win enough to earn a bowl berth after consecutive seasons at home during the postseason.

[+] EnlargeOregon State's Sean Mannion
Jim Z. Rider/US PRESSWIREOregon State quarterback Sean Mannion should see some improvement in his supporting cast as he enters his sophomore season.
Why? Let’s start in the cockpit with quarterback Sean Mannion, who won the starting job as a freshman over returning starter Ryan Katz, only to discover THE NEW CAR! he’d been given the keys to was a Pinto. With little support from a running game to keep defenses honest, Mannion threw a lot but not always successfully, ranking ninth in the conference in passing efficiency with 16 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. But two numbers are notable: First, he completed 64.5 percent of his passes and was sacked just 27 times in 473 attempts. That suggests two things. Mannion is both accurate and has good pocket presence. Accurate? That completion percentage ranked fifth in the conference, ahead of Oregon’s Darron Thomas and Arizona State’s Brock Osweiler. As for pocket presence, the Beavers ranked fifth in the conference in sacks surrendered despite ranking third in pass attempts. And that was with no running game.

Mannion’s supporting cast at receiver is strong. Three of the top four receivers are back, including Markus Wheaton and speedy flanker Brandin Cooks. And essentially the entire cast at running back is back.

So, really, it comes down to the offensive line, where three starters are back, not including tackle Michael Philipp, a 2010 starter who is trying to get a once-promising career back on track. Don’t expect to hear glowing reports this spring. Tackle Colin Kelly and guard Grant Enger, both returning starters, are out with injuries, so there’s a lack of bodies. But in the fall they should be healthy just as a pair of intriguing reinforcements arrive: touted freshman Isaac Seumalo, rated the No. 19 overall player in the nation in 2012 by ESPN Recruiting, and junior-college transfer Stan Hasiak, who saw plenty of action during his tumultuous time at UCLA. Both are potential – even likely -- starters.

Mannion flashed plenty of potential in 2011. He will be far more seasoned in 2012. The offensive line will be better, too, which means at least a mediocre running game to keep defenses from pinning their ears back and going after the quarterback.

In other words, the Beavers offense will be much improved overall in 2012. Now ... about that defense ...

Kevin Gemmell: I'm glad you brought up Osweiler, because he's somewhat pertinent to the team I'm picking to improve offensively -- UCLA.

All together now: "Ding, dong, the pistol is dead." And not a half-snap too soon. Time to make way for the shotgun.

To see where the Bruins are headed on offense, you need only to look back at what Osweiler did the past two seasons with the Sun Devils -- specifically what he was able to do with Noel Mazzone running the show.

Now Mazzone is new coach Jim Mora's offensive coordinator at UCLA. I know there is a multi-quarterback competition in the works. That certainly will have some bearing. But even so, it's almost impossible for the Bruins not improve on last year's 23.1-ppg scoring average with this time-tested offense.

Consider the Sun Devils of 2009, pre-Mazzone: 90th in total offense (334.4 yards per game) and 91st in scoring average (22.3 points per game). Now, look at Mazzone's first season in 2010: 29th in total offense (425.6) and 28th in scoring average (32.2). Last year: 25th in total offense (445.8) and 28th in scoring offense (33.2).

Translation: The guy knows how to move the ball and create points.

I talked earlier this week with Brett Hundley, one of those quarterbacks in the hunt for the starting gig, he says this offense is much simpler and allows the quarterback to play more quickly and think less. Makes sense. And whoever wins the gig will have an experienced running back in Johnathan Franklin beside him. The fifth-year senior was 24 yards short of a 1,000-yard season despite an impressive 5.9 yards per carry average.

[+] EnlargeBrett Hundley
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireSophomore Brett Hundley could prove to be UCLA's most athletic option at quarterback.
But this offense is about moving the ball in the air. And finding three or four receivers to consistently perform is going to be just as important as finding the right guy standing five to seven yards behind the center. Mazzone has said he's not married to four- or five-receiver sets. So bona-fide talent Joseph Fauria should get plenty of chances to catch the ball from the tight end position. Devin Lucien, Shaq Evans and Ricky Marvray are the likely wide receiver trio. But unlike the previous offense, the receivers won't be square pegs in round holes. This offense should accentuate the speed and athleticism that UCLA always seems to have, but never knows quite what to do with it.

The Bruins were in the bottom half of the nation in sacks allowed last year, but the return of tackle Xavier Su'a-Filo, who is back after an LDS mission, should help bolster the line. All indications out of spring are that he looks solid. Jeff Baca and Greg Capella both saw significant playing time last season (Capella started 14 games and Baca 13), so that experience should help cut back on the sacks.

Now, to the quarterback spot. Kevin Prince has the most experience, followed by Richard Brehaut. Both are seniors. But there is a call from fans to completely cleanse themselves of the previous regime and start fresh with Hundley, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound dual-threat quarterback who might be the most athletic of the bunch.

Whoever wins the job is destined for a pretty good season. Because given Mazzone's history of turning slugs into sluggers, UCLA looks like the team to drag itself up from the Pac-12's offensive cellar.
Oregon State coach Mike Riley believes he has talent and depth at running back. He just doesn't know how much and from whom. He has "viable" bodies for every position on the offensive line. But he's pretty sure the starting five coming out of spring won't be the same at the start of the season.

These are a few of the concerns Riley is pondering as the Beavers set to open spring practice on April 3.

[+] EnlargeMike Riley
AP Photo/Colin E. BraleyThere are a lot of questions surrounding Mike Riley's running game this spring.
Tailback Jovan Stevenson will be limited with a foot injury, which means lots of reps for Jordan Jenkins, Malcolm Agnew, Storm Woods and Terron Ward.

"I think we have good depth," Riley said in a conference call with media on Tuesday. " ... It's definitely the biggest question mark, but it's a good group. I feel good about it. Sorting it out will be very important for us."

Which leads to another issue. The backs will be getting lots of work -- but who is going to do all of the blocking? With Grant Enger (shoulder) out for spring and Colin Kelly (ankle) expected to miss most or all of spring, the Beavers have very limited depth to work with over the next month.

"The hardest part about spring ball is that we're very thin on the offensive line," Riley confirmed. "We have the starters that are out rehabbing ... we have some good young talent that will get a lot of good work to see if they can play. We're looking -- not necessarily how it will look as a whole in the fall -- but as an individual development of those guys at that position. We'll just have to be careful how we practice."

Riley went on to say that as a result, there won't be much chemistry with whatever starting five opens the year Sept. 1 against Nicholls State in Corvallis.

"I think we'll develop toward that line that we'll have in the fall," he said. "The hard part is we won't have a whole synchronized group. I doubt the starting lineup coming out of spring ball will be the starting lineup necessarily in the fall. But there is a viable guy at each position this spring so let's see what they can do with it and we'll put up some better depth in the fall and we'll see who wins the job then.

"I think we have good candidates. That's good enough for right now."

Riley has said in previous interviews that restoring the ground game is a top priority in the upcoming year. Oregon State ranked last in the Pac-12 last season, averaging just 86.9 yards per game while managing just 12 touchdowns on the ground -- second worst behind Colorado (10).

Other roster notes:
Oregon State head coach Mike Riley has a lot on his mind these days. He has a new recruiting class with one of the top offensive linemen in the country -- which is good for him, since a large part of his O-line is still rehabbing from last season. There's talk of his seat being toasty next year, and what's the next step for his young quarterback and standout defensive lineman?

Here's part one of a Q&A with the OSU head coach.

[+] EnlargeMike Riley
Kelley L. Cox/US PresswireThe pressure is on Mike Riley to avoid a repeat of last year's 3-9 season.
This past year, 10 true freshman and 23 first-time starters played. Once the injuries started to pile on, was the thought just to get these guys as much playing time as possible and hope it pays off in the future?

Mike Riley: When you're right in it, the immediate thought is we have to get the best players into the game because I've always had the philosophy that the best way to do well in the future is to take care of the present. We didn't just shove freshmen into prominent roles. There was either an injury or they earned the opportunity. It was the nature of our team last year. We had obviously lost some good players, like [Jacquizz) Rodgers, so it was open competition. Malcolm Agnew originally won it and then he had a significant hamstring and missed four or five games. We played them because we thought they were the best players and gave us the best opportunity to win. Even though we had a bad record, I liked the team. I think with that youth, they kept their spirits up and kept working hard and hopefully now it does pay off for the future.

You have 17 starters coming back and 58 players who saw time last season. What sort of dividends will that pay in the next few years?

MR: If we and the players use it correctly, it should pay great dividends. There is nothing like experience, especially if you can combine it with talent and in the offseason you can enhance your talent with good, hard physical work. When you come into spring practice, you should carry much more knowledge and much more physical preparation into the next year. That's very encouraging to me. I think we have a hard-working team. I think guys will take advantage both of their work and of their experience.

Speaking of spring ball, give us some rehab updates. Are you expecting most everyone to be ready for spring?

MR: I think we'll be very limited with a couple of guys that played a lot in the offensive line. Colin Kelly had surgery on his ankle and he won't be ready for spring. Grant Enger had surgery on his shoulder and I don't think he's going to be ready for spring. Malcolm Agnew continues to go through a specific rehab program for his hamstring. I think he will be practicing and hopefully full speed in the spring time. I think the offensive line -- we won't be deep in spring ball and that's the reason we signed seven guys in this class. I think we'll have to do a lot of individual development because I don't know what it will look like as a group in total. One good thing is Michael Philipp, who was injured and redshirted because of his injury after he started for two years, he'll be back in spring. I'm very excited about that and getting him going and hopefully he'll be a stronger, better player when we get to spring ball. We're looking at developing some new faces on the line while we wait for that class to come in.

What are your first impressions of your recruiting class?

MR: The realistic look at it is that I think it was an outstanding class in almost all ways. The disappointing factor -- we had four corners committed going into the last week. We got one of them. I'm very excited about Tyler Hasty from Bellevue, Wash. We're probably going to play Zach Robinson out of Tahlequah Ok., we're probably going to try him at corner first. He's a long body that can run. Was a real good receiver and defensive back. He might be that big corner we're looking for. But the rest of the class, I think we hit all the marks. Offensive line was a priority in recruiting and we got seven kids I'm really excited about then. Then, defensively, we needed more defensive backs in general and we signed three safeties. Nice-sized kids, good athletes. Two of them in particular played major roles as receivers. They are all around football players. Linebackers, we got two junior college linebackers which should help us right away and then we signed a couple of underclassmen that I think will be real good players down the road, Caleb Saulo and Joel Skotte. Then on offense, we just needed kind of one of each. We ended up with two tight ends I'm really excited about. Caleb Smith is a well-known prospect from the state of Washington and Dustin Stanton is not well-known, but he has tremendous potential. Big, 6-6 kid that runs well. Real good basketball player and a really good athlete for his size. We were really after one wide receiver. At the end, I thought we were going to get two. But we got Malik Gilmore and he was our first pick from the beginning. I'm really excited about Malik. Then I think we got an outstanding running back and quarterback. Kind of the bonus at the very end was we ended up signing the kicker from Arroyo Grande. Really good athlete, was a wide receiver.

I think we saw in the conference that you need kickers?

MR: Oh my gosh, no kidding. I have a great special teams coach in Bruce Read, been with me for many years here at Oregon State and then with the Chargers. He stayed in the NFL for a while and we got him back. He's a great evaluator and a great coach. We've always had some really good specialists here.

It's usually tough for offensive linemen to come in right away and play. Do you see Isaac Seumalo and or/ Garrett Weinreich being able to make an immediate impact?

MR: We're going to let them go in there and play. We know Isaac so well and he's a real talented kid. Who knows exactly where he'll go with it. But we're anticipating great things from him. As we place our group, we'll be very careful as to where we put him. He can play every position on the line. He could play center, guard or tackle. As we place our players we have to be very aware about him and everyone else. We're really excited about Stan Hasiak. He has experience starting in the conference. Coming out of high school we thought he was a really good player so we're expecting his competition right away. I also really like the talent and the tenacity of Grant Bays from Oceanside, Calif. I think physically and mentally he could fit in right away too. It's a good group.

A-list position battles: Oregon State

May, 17, 2010
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Fifth in a series taking a look at top position competitions this fall.

Oregon State: Offensive guard

Why the competition? Right guard Gregg Peat is the only 2009 starter not back on the Beavers offensive line, but the only certainties after spring practices are Alex Linnenkohl at center and Mike Remmers at right tackle.

Candidates: Sophomore Michael Philipp (6-3, 307), Grant Johnson (6-3, 280), Burke Ellis (6-4, 280), Colin Kelly (6-4, 285), Ryan Pohl (6-3, 284) and Michael Lamb (6-3, 282).

The skinny: The easy way for this to go is four starters return to their 2009 spots and Ellis and Kelly compete for the starting job at right guard. But the Beavers are looking for their best five guys, and that might mean some shuffling. So does Philipp stay at left tackle, where he started as a true freshman, or does he move inside to left guard because of how well Wilder McAndrews played this spring while Philipp sat out with a knee injury? And does McAndrews, after a career that almost ended because of hand and wrist injuries, stay healthy? Second, does Johnson, a returning starter at left guard who missed spring after shoulder surgery, then move to the right side to compete with Ellis and Kelly? Or will someone else emerge? McAndrews is the wild card. If he's one of the best five, then things will shuffle. If Philipp is back at tackle, then right guard is the only hot spot.

Roster, depth chart changes for OSU

March, 17, 2010
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Oregon State coach Mike Riley met with his beat writers Tuesday, and lots of interesting stuff came up.

Riley and his coaches have moved some guys around on the Beavers' depth chart. And the quarterback battle between Ryan Katz and Peter Lalich is a competition, not a coronation for Katz, Riley said.

Of note:

  • Kevin Frahm will move inside from defensive end to tackle. Frahm is more a powerful, high-energy guy than an edge rusher, so the move makes sense. Of course, Frahm, a 6-foot-2, 267-pound junior, will be undersized. But, playing next to Stephen Paea, he can expect some one-on-one battles that he can win with quickness. Frahm starts off behind Brennan Olander.
  • The best news coming from Riley was optimism that linebacker Keith Pankey, who will sit out spring after surgery on his Achilles' tendon, will be recovered in time to play next fall.
  • The battle at middle linebacker to replace David Pa'aluhi, who left the team for personal reasons, will feature Tony Wilson, Rueben Robinson, Kevin Unga and Walker Vave.
  • Jordan Poyer has moved from safety to cornerback, where he's listed behind James Dockery.
  • Sophomore Markus Wheaton and Darrell Catchings are competing for the starting job at split end. Looking at the receiver depth chart, the Beavers look strong at the position, with plenty of experience and talent, topped, of course, by James Rodgers.
  • The Beavers need to replace Gregg Peat at right guard. The depth chart features Burke Ellis, Colin Kelly and Colin Lyons.
  • A couple of guys to watch on the O-line are Timi Oshinowo and Wilder McAndrews, who are No. 2 and 3 at left tackle behind true sophomore Michael Philip. Both likely would have been starters last year, if healthy. Oshinowo is coming back from a knee injury, while McAndrews' status is decidedly iffy due a wrist problem that has limited him to three games over the past two seasons.
  • In addition to Pankey, five players will sit out spring while recovering from injuries, including starting guard Grant Johnson (shoulder). The others are: cornerback Sean Martin and defensive end Mana Rosa (both shoulder) and defensive lineman Mitchel Hunt and offensive lineman Rory Ross (both knees).

Some thoughts after watching OSU

August, 18, 2009
8/18/09
9:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Neither of Oregon State's top two quarterbacks, Sean Canfield nor Lyle Moevao, threw during Tuesday's practice.

Moevao is still working his way back from a shoulder injury and Canfield rested his arm.

The interesting thing is how good the passing game looked without the two senior quarterbacks running the show.

It was one day. We know. And the Beavers secondary is banged up.

But redshirt freshman Ryan Katz and Virginia transfer Peter Lalich, a junior, looked comfortable while making a number of downfield connections. Both showed good arm strength and accuracy.

"I'm really pleased with both Ryan and Peter Lalich," Riley said.

This might or might not be meaningful this year. But the Beavers have a lot of guys coming back in 2010. Just not at quarterback.

Riley didn't seem too worried about that.

  • It's interesting how much teaching goes on at Oregon State practices. And not just by coaches. After listening to Riley encourage injured receiver Darrell Catchings to work with the Beavers young receivers, I noticed a number of instances when veterans pulled aside less experienced players to instruct them. Defensive end Kevin Frahm worked with Matt LaGrone and Henry Taylor on pass-rushing techniques. Center Alex Linnenkohl repeatedly praised and pushed a couple of the offensive linemen. Linebacker Keaton Kristick and cornerback Patrick Henderson held an informal sideline meeting over some pass defense issues. Sure that happens elsewhere. I just haven't witnessed so much of it during one practice.
  • Riley said he expects to figure out the starting offensive line by the end of the week. He said that touted true freshman Michael Philipp is the leader at left tackle, and left guard remains fluid between Colin Kelly and Grant Johnson, though Johnson appears to lead.
  • After watching Washington and Oregon State, I had a thought about how "returning starters" can be a misleading way to judge a unit. The Huskies secondary welcomes back all four starters. The Beavers none. And the Beavers were missing a number of guys due to injury. But the Beavers looked far more athletic in the back half than the Huskies. On paper, the Huskies might seem better off but my impression is the Beavers should be more confident. That shouldn't be too surprising. One team won nine games last year. The other, zero.
  • Moevao isn't easily rattled. Cornerback Tim Clark stood behind a TV reporter interviewing Moevao after practice and made a variety of faces that would have distracted an average guy. Moevao didn't even flinch during the interview. When the camera clicked off, he turned to Clark, "It doesn't work on me. I've been doing this too long."

McCants, Oshinowo not ready for Oregon State camp

July, 24, 2009
7/24/09
11:49
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Oregon State offensive tackle Timi Oshinowo and running back Ryan McCants are out and doubtful -- respectively -- for preseason camp because they are still recovering from knee injuries, the Corvallis Gazette-Times reported Friday.

Oshinowo was the projected starter at right tackle, while McCants is Jacquizz Rodgers top backup.

Oshinowo, who was injured in the spring game, will be out until at least October. The spring depth chart lists redshirt freshman Colin Kelly as his backup, though it's possible the lineup could be further shuffled.

The Beavers were already replacing three starters from their 2008 offensive line.

With McCants sidelined, Jovan Stevenson and Ashton Jefferson will compete for the backup job. Stevenson, a true freshman who participated in spring practices, is the favorite, according to the Gazette-Times.

Pac-10 newcomers to watch

February, 26, 2009
2/26/09
10:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

Which Pac-10 newcomers might make a name for themselves this spring and put themselves into position to start or see significant action in 2009?

Let's take a look.

Arizona

  • QB Nick Foles & OT Phillip Garcia: Foles is a sophomore transfer from Michigan State who will compete with Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne to replace Willie Tuitama. Garcia was a JC transfer last January, but the 6-foot-7, 340 pounder hurt his knee and missed the season. He's in the mix at left tackle.

Arizona State

  • S Keelan Johnson, RB James Morrison, DE Dean DeLeone: Johnson, a redshirt freshman, is the sort of athlete who could end up playing both ways. Morrison was a true freshman walk-on destined to play last year before he broke his ankle. He's back this spring. The 25-year-old DeLeone, a JC transfer, is already drawing raves for his weight room work.

California

  • WR Marvin Jones & LB Mychal Kendricks: Jones was a touted true freshman last year but hurt his knee and never broke through. Kendricks had 16 tackles and a sack as a true freshman and is a frontrunner to fill one of the three vacancies at linebacker.

Oregon

  • DE Zac Clark & WR Lavasier Tuinei: Oregon has big-time needs on the D-line and at receiver, and these JC transfers will be given an opportunity to immediately ease those needs. Tuinei, at 6-foot-5, should give the Ducks receiving corps some size, while Clark will be eyeballing the vacancy left by Nick Reed.

Oregon State

  • WR Jordan Bishop & OT Colin Kelly: Receiver is a need area for the Beavers, and Bishop, a redshirt freshman, impressed on the scout team and during Sun Bowl practices. Kelly, a redshirt freshman, is in the mix on an offensive line that lost both starting tackles.

Stanford

  • QB Andrew Luck, OG David DeCastro, TE Konrad Reuland: Luck almost lost his redshirt last year while Tavita Pritchard struggled, and he'll have a good chance to win the starting job. DeCastro is presently No. 1 on the depth chart, while Reuland is a transfer from Notre Dame.

UCLA

  • QB Kevin Prince & TE Morrell Presley: Prince, a redshirt freshman, is the most likely candidate to unseat returning starter Kevin Craft. Presley, a true freshman, could make an immediate impact as a hybrid TE/WR.

USC

  • QB Matt Barkley, DE Nick Perry, RB Curtis McNeal: Barkley, the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2009, could jump over Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp in the quarterback competition, while Perry, a redshirt freshman, is almost certain to be in the mix at end or perhaps outside linebacker. McNeal, a redshirt freshman, was a late arrival last year but made an impression with his explosiveness.

Washington

  • LB E.J. Savannah, C Mykenna Ikehara , WR Anthony Boyles: Savannah is not a newcomer -- he was the Huskies leading tackler in 2007 before finding his way into Tyrone Willingham's spacious doghouse and getting kick off the team. Pencil him in as a starter. Ikehara, a redshirt freshman, could replace Juan Garcia at center. Boyles, a redshirt freshman, was a touted recruit who didn't break through last year but is expected to be sharper this spring.

Washington State

  • DT Bernard Wolfgramm, CB Brandon Jones, RB James Montgomery: It's not unreasonable to go ahead and pencil in all three of these guys in as starters. Wolfgramm is a 2008 JC transfer who redshirted last year, while Jones and Montgomery both transferred from California.

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