clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The big 2014 Oregon State football guide: A steady ship, for better or worse

New, comments

After a pair of bumpy seasons, Mike Riley and Oregon State have reattained a steady level of success and quality in Corvallis. That should remain the story in 2014, though there are questions in the trenches and receiving corps.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. The answer was "yes"

In 2006, Oregon State went 10-4 and ranked 35th in the F/+ rankings. 2007: 9-4 and 27th. 2008: 9-4 and 30th. There was some variation after that -- 8-5 in 2009 with a No. 20 ranking (0-4 vs. teams with 9+ wins, 8-1 vs. everybody else), 5-7 in 2010 with a No. 46 ranking (0-4 and 5-3, respectively). The schedule was getting more difficult, but 2010 aside (when the schedule featured TCU, Boise State, Oregon, and Stanford teams that combined to go 49-3), the results were pretty consistent.

Then the flatline turned into a rapid heart rate. The Beavers bottomed out in 2011, going 3-9 and ranking 88th. Then they surged to 9-4 and 18th in 2012. Heading into 2013, the question was simple: which one of those seasons was the outlier?

Typically, sudden surges like OSU's 2012 jump are followed by some level of regression toward the mean, and the turnovers luck could certainly factor into that. But Oregon State performed a lot closer to its recent historical levels in 2012 than it had in 2011. Which one was the outlier?

The answer, in the end, was that both seasons had outlier characteristics. The Beavers were unlucky and bad in 2011 and lucky and good in 2012, and in 2013, we basically saw an evening out. They settled back in at 42nd, and while the Pac-12 was too good to reward that ranking with too many wins, they went 7-6 despite defensive injuries and depth issues.

More than a decade after Mike Riley returned to Corvallis -- he coached there in the mid-1990s before taking the San Diego Chargers' head coaching job, then came back in 2003 when replacement Dennis Erickson moved on (as Erickson tends to do) -- Oregon State's spoiler rep remains intact. The Beavers are not deep enough to compete for a division title in today's Pac-12 North, not with Stanford and Oregon establishing heavyweight bona fides and Washington surging quickly. But after attending three bowls in their history before 1999, they've been to 11 in 15 years and six of the last eight.

Riley has figured out ways to get high-caliber athletes on the field without dominant recruiting, and he and his assistants (most of whom stay in Corvallis a while) have crafted a unique offense and defense. They unearth unique talent, shape the system to feature it, and usually win seven to nine games.

With Oregon leaving its Civil War rival in the dust thanks to Nike money and some strong hires, I don't know if Oregon-State-as-spoiler is enough to satisfy OSU fans as a whole. But the Beavers have gone from non-entity to entity over the past 10-15 years, and after a two-year stumble, it appears they've stabilized once again. And in 2014, it should be more of the same: the Beavers will be a threat to win every game they play, and they'll probably win seven or eight of them.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 7-6 | Adj. Record: 9-4 | Final F/+ Rk: 42
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug Eastern Washington N/A 46-49 L 44.6 - 50.1 L
7-Sep Hawaii 82 33-14 W 29.4 - 20.3 W
14-Sep at Utah 31 51-48 W 36.8 - 43.8 L
21-Sep at San Diego State 89 34-30 W 28.7 - 20.5 W
28-Sep Colorado 95 44-17 W 30.8 - 21.6 W 2.8
12-Oct at Washington State 53 52-24 W 42.3 - 26.2 W 7.1
19-Oct at California 103 49-17 W 37.0 - 25.5 W 7.6
26-Oct Stanford 3 12-20 L 22.8 - 21.7 W 9.2
1-Nov USC 11 14-31 L 34.9 - 37.1 L 7.1
16-Nov at Arizona State 13 17-30 L 31.9 - 21.2 W 7.4
23-Nov Washington 18 27-69 L 31.9 - 42.3 L 2.1
29-Nov at Oregon 5 35-36 L 44.4 - 25.6 W 3.6
24-Dec vs. Boise State 45 38-23 W 41.8 - 29.7 W 5.8
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ +6.5% 36 +2.3% 50 -0.3% 73
Points Per Game 34.8 29 31.4 91
Adj. Points Per Game 35.2 21 29.7 83

2. Rounding into, and out of, form

The 2013 season served as a microcsm of the last few Oregon State seasons -- down, then up, then settling in.

The Beavers began the year playing horrendous defense; they allowed 625 yards and 49 points to Eastern Washington's high-octane (but still FCS) offense, then allowed 539 and 48 to Utah. They survived the Utes because Utah quarterback Travis Wilson made as many terrible mistakes as he made fantastic plays, but they were clearly missing injured star linebacker Michael Doctor (who missed the entire season), and other pieces weren't settling in.

Then those pieces settled in, and OSU became one hell of a team.

  • Adj. Points Per Game (first 3 games): Opponent 38.1, Oregon State 36.9 (minus-1.2)
  • Adj. Points Per Game (next 5 games): Oregon State 32.3, Opponent 23.1 (plus-10.2)
  • Adj. Points Per Game (last 5 games): Oregon State 37.0, Opponent 31.2 (plus-5.8)

Oregon State pulled off a dramatic late comeback to beat San Diego State, then cruised through some of the Pac-12's lesser squads, beating Colorado, Wazzu, and California by an average score of 48-19. The schedule was about to get infinitely harder, but the Beavers started strong, nearly toppling Stanford.

And then the defense lost ground again. The Beavers allowed 7.5 yards per play to USC, 8.4 to Washington, and 7.2 to Oregon. They still nearly took the Ducks in Eugene -- rivalry games, man -- but in the end, as the schedule got harder (and therefore ensured some losses no matter what), Oregon State got worse.

The season ended with a satisfying thumping of Boise State, and the offense really was impressive down the stretch, even beyond the contributions of Biletnikoff Award winner Brandin Cooks. But the first question for 2014 is whether the defense can rebound. Coordinator Mark Banker had a top-25 unit in 2012, but losses at defensive tackle and cornerback and the surprise loss of Doctor* were just too much to handle. This fall, the back seven returns almost totally intact, but the Beavers have some work to do up front.

Actually, that last sentence goes for both sides of the ball.

* Yes, Banker coaches Doctor. Fun.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.22 32 IsoPPP+ 104.0 40
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 45.1% 42 Succ. Rt. + 116.6 14
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 27.5 25 Def. FP+ 106.5 8
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.3 66 Redzone S&P+ 110.6 26
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 29.2 ACTUAL 26 -3.2
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 26 20 14 19
RUSHING 118 43 8 95
PASSING 3 22 23 8
Standard Downs 11 7 33
Passing Downs 44 43 48
Q1 Rk 55 1st Down Rk 9
Q2 Rk 28 2nd Down Rk 41
Q3 Rk 11 3rd Down Rk 23
Q4 Rk 4

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Sean Mannion 6'5, 220 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 400 603 4662 37 15 66.3% 25 4.0% 7.1
Cody Vaz 12 18 176 1 1 66.7% 0 0.0% 9.8
Brent VanderVeen 6'4, 205 So. 3 stars (5.7)
Luke Del Rio 6'3, 210 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7)
Kyle Kempt 6'4, 207 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Marcus McMaryion II 6'2, 185 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)

3. A lot on Mannion's shoulders

After nine seasons with Riley, offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf left Corvallis to become the quarterbacks coach for the New York Giants. Langsdorf had helped to craft what I last year called (as a compliment) a "little-league offense," as in everybody touches the ball. Langsdorf and Riley (the play-caller) spread the ball around and gave play-makers play-making opportunities.

In 2013, that meant giving 44 carries to receivers Brandin Cooks and Victor Bolden and targeting running backs Storm Woods and Terron Woods with 104 passes. Andy Staples wrote a lovely piece about Nick Saban and the "not Xs and Os, but Jimmies and Joes" principle last week; well, Oregon State's offense was the personification of that. Figure out what your guys can do, then figure out how to get them the ball in ways that allow them to do it.

Since Riley is so involved in the offense, one assumes it might not change that much in Langsdorf's absence. Still, old friend and new coordinator John Garrett (a receiver of Riley's in the early-'90s WLAF) will have an opportunity to put his spin on the Oregon State system.

No matter what, the result will probably be a lot of pressure on the shoulders of senior quarterback Sean Mannion. This was the case last year because OSU was pass-first on standard downs and nearly all-pass on passing downs. It is the case this year because not only does OSU still figure to be pass-first in 2014, but it will be pass-first without Cooks.

The positive spin is that five of Oregon State's top six targets from 2013 return; that includes Woods and Ward, tight ends Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith, and big wideout Richard Mullaney. But the positive spin ignores that Cooks had nearly as many targets as the No. 2 and 3 targets (Mullaney and Hamlett) combined and had 36 more catches. He was absolutely incredible, both a terror on screen and short passes and, despite his diminutive stature, a player who created easy passing lanes downfield with perfect route running. Mannion was able to lean on him in 2013, but he'll have to find success from a grab bag of options in 2014.

(And without experienced backup Cody Vaz, it goes without saying that if Mannion gets hurt, all bets are off. The Beavers are not without intriguing options, but the experience is nil.)

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Storm Woods RB 6'0, 211 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 127 477 6 3.8 2.0 38.6%
Terron Ward RB 5'7, 197 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 113 521 5 4.6 4.6 37.2%
Brandin Cooks WR 32 217 2 6.8 5.5 59.4%
Chris Brown RB 5'10, 202 So. 3 stars (5.7) 19 144 1 7.6 5.8 57.9%
Victor Bolden WR 5'9, 172 So. 3 stars (5.5) 12 95 1 7.9 5.5 58.3%
Sean Mannion QB 6'5, 220 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 9 -6 0 -0.7 5.2 11.1%
Tyler Anderson FB 5'10, 222 Sr. NR 5 15 0 3.0 1.5 40.0%
Damien Haskins RB 5'8, 224 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)





Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Brandin Cooks WR-Z 168 128 1730 76.2% 28.2% 62.8% 10.3 301 10.7 228.2
Richard Mullaney WR-X 6'3, 199 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 89 52 788 58.4% 15.0% 46.8% 8.9 126 9.3 104.0
Connor Hamlett TE 6'7, 265 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 58 40 364 69.0% 9.7% 51.0% 6.3 -104 6.0 48.0
Storm Woods RB 6'0, 211 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 58 47 440 81.0% 9.7% 54.2% 7.6 -70 7.5 58.0
Terron Ward RB 5'7, 197 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 46 34 280 73.9% 7.7% 60.0% 6.1 -105 6.4 36.9
Caleb Smith TE 6'6, 269 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 39 25 343 64.1% 6.6% 63.6% 8.8 40 9.8 45.3
Kevin Cummings SLOT 39 25 299 64.1% 6.6% 48.6% 7.7 -4 7.6 39.4
Kellen Clute TE 6'5, 245 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 27 19 159 70.4% 4.5% 68.0% 5.9 -61 4.9 21.0
Tyler Anderson FB 5'10, 222 Sr. NR 17 11 94 64.7% 2.9% 78.6% 5.5 -39 4.3 12.4
Micah Hatfield WR-X 14 8 130 57.1% 2.4% 50.0% 9.3 27 2.9 17.2
Victor Bolden WR-Z 5'9, 172 So. 3 stars (5.5) 13 6 62 46.2% 2.2% 66.7% 4.8 -25 2.7 8.2
Malik Gilmore SLOT 6'3, 210 So. 3 stars (5.7) 11 7 76 63.6% 1.8% 42.9% 6.9 -9 3.5 10.0
Tyler Perry TE 10 7 58 70.0% 1.7% 100.0% 5.8 -23 3.1 7.7
Obum Gwacham WR-X 3 1 6 33.3% 0.5% N/A 2.0 -12 0.0 0.8
Kendall Hill WR-X 6'1, 204 So. 2 stars (5.3)
Jordan Villamin WR 6'4, 245 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Hunter Jarmon SLOT 5'10, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7)
Jacob Wark
(California)
TE 6'4, 250 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 3 2 8 66.7% 0.5% N/A 2.7 -15 N/A 0.9

4. Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency

Thanks almost entirely to Cooks and Mullaney, Oregon State had decent big-play numbers in 2013, ranking 40th in IsoPPP+. Otherwise, the Beavers leaned on efficiency.

Woods and Ward had almost no big-play potential, but they generated four to five yards a decent percentage of the time and produced 6.9 yards per target (subpar for wideouts but acceptable for running backs) out of the backfield.

Chris Brown showed big-play potential as a freshman and, thanks to a Woods injury, saw quite a bit of first-team action this spring. He could change the equation a bit, but with Woods, Ward, and both tight ends back (along with Cal transfer Jacob Wark and emerging junior Kellen Clute), OSU figures to be efficient again in 2014. This means favorable down-and-distance most of the time, but it also means it takes a while to work your way down the field and gives mistakes the opportunity to derail more drives. (And while Mannion's profile is fine, he's not exactly the most mistake-averse quarterback in the world.)

If a new big-play threat were to emerge to complement Mullaney (be it Brown or anybody else), that could make a huge difference.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 96.6 2.65 2.52 41.2% 70.0% 22.4% 138.1 4.0% 4.4%
Rank 83 105 116 43 57 112 30 46 28
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Isaac Seumalo C 6'4, 297 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 23 2nd All-Pac-12
Michael Philipp LT 48
Josh Andrews LG 32
Grant Enger RG 31
Sean Harlow LG 6'4, 288 So. 3 stars (5.7) 9
Roman Sapolu C 6'2, 274 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 4
Josh Mitchell LG 6'3, 288 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 3
Grant Bays RG 6'3, 285 So. 3 stars (5.6) 3
Gavin Andrews RT 6'5, 340 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0
Justin Addie LG 0
Dustin Stanton LT 6'4, 255 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0
Nolan Hansen RT 6'6, 290 So. NR 0
Will Hopkins LT 6'6, 265 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Fred Lauina RG 6'4, 305 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Bobby Keenan LT 6'6, 280 Jr. 2 stars (5.3)
Kammy Delp OL 6'3, 295 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)

5. Rebuild in the trenches, part 1

Hey, we finally joined Facebook!

Big plays are nice, but the story of 2014 will be written by the lines. That all-conference center (and former blue-chipper) Isaac Seumalo returns for the Beavers in 2014 is a great thing (well, assuming his injured foot is totally healthy by the start of the season). That he's the only returnee with more than nine career starts is a little bit scary.

Granted, even with Michael Philipp, Josh Andrews, and Grant Enger, OSU still didn't produce well up front, so losing them might not be devastating. But again, barring a breakout from an underclassman, OSU's offense will be based on efficiency, on consistently avoiding losses and generating five- to seven-yard gains. If big plays can't bail you out, you're probably putting pressure on the line. And while five different returnees have started at least three games, this is a pretty green front five.

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.26 107 IsoPPP+ 100.9 55
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.3% 60 Succ. Rt. + 99.5 55
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 32.0 28 Off. FP+ 102.5 32
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.9 114 Redzone S&P+ 101.8 50
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 21.2 ACTUAL 29.0 +7.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 101 58 55 57
RUSHING 89 87 81 92
PASSING 87 43 34 19
Standard Downs 78 56 93
Passing Downs 41 60 18
Q1 Rk 61 1st Down Rk 81
Q2 Rk 64 2nd Down Rk 71
Q3 Rk 42 3rd Down Rk 63
Q4 Rk 101

6. Stout against pass, sieve against the run

In 2013, Oregon State was without the services of run-stopper extraordinaire Michael Doctor and had perilous depth at defensive tackle. As one might guess, then, the Beavers plummeted from 27th in Rushing S&P+ to 87th. Aside from the season-opening disaster against EWU, the pass defense mostly held up, and the Beavers were pretty strong on passing downs. But they couldn't really force passing downs.

The results were obvious. The OSU defense frequently failed to get off the field in a timely fashion, and while that didn't have as much of an impact on field position as it could have (especially considering the Beavers' mostly mediocre punt returns), it wore on them. Combined with iffy depth, struggles against the run caused major late-game breakdowns. OSU ranked 42nd in third-quarter S&P+ and 101st in fourth-quarter S&P+.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 94.6 3.12 3.36 41.9% 65.9% 19.6% 97.4 5.3% 6.3%
Rank 84 90 71 96 60 56 64 47 75
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Dylan Wynn DE 6'2, 270 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 13 48.0 6.5% 5.0 1.0 0 1 1 0
Scott Crichton DE 13 38.0 5.1% 19.0 7.5 0 3 3 1
Mana Rosa DT 13 32.0 4.3% 3.5 1.0 0 1 1 0
John Braun DE 8 13.5 1.8% 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Devon Kell DE 13 13.5 1.8% 3.5 3.0 0 1 0 0
Bud Delva DT 6'3, 294 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 13 7.5 1.0% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Obum Gwacham DE 6'5, 231 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 13 5.5 0.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Jaswha James DE 6'2, 250 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 13 4.5 0.6% 1.0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Siale Hautau DT 6'1, 350 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 10 4.0 0.5% 2.0 0.0 0 0 1 0
Brandon Bennett-Jackson DT 6'3, 275 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 9 4.0 0.5% 1.5 1.5 0 0 0 0
Lavonte Barnett DE 6'2, 265 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 2.5 0.3% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Grimble
(Miami)
DT 6'2, 300 Jr. 4 stars (5.8)
Noke Tago DT 6'1, 305 So. NR
Baker Pritchard DE 6'3, 244 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7)
Titus Failauga DE 6'3, 233 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Luke Hollingsworth DE 6'3, 257 Jr. 2 stars (5.4)
Kalani Vakameilalo DT 6'3, 300 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

7. Rebuild in the trenches, part 2

That Oregon State must once again do some rebuilding up front, where three of the top four defensive ends are gone, along with leading tackle Mana Rosa, is not encouraging. But there's reason for hope, and not just from an "it can't get much worse" perspective. Four-star Miami transfer Jalen Grimble joins a reasonably experienced (at least in terms of the number of juniors and seniors) rotation, as does Snow College transfer Luke Hollingsworth. (As mentioned in the Utah preview, I just assume all Snow College transfers are excellent until proven otherwise.)

The loss of star end Scott Crichton is an obvious concern (one OSU is attempting to address, in part, with converted receiver and stud athlete Obum Gwacham), but we'll worry about the pass rush when Oregon State starts creating more pass-rush opportunities.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Jabral Johnson MLB 6'1, 230 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 13 71.5 9.7% 3.5 1.0 1 2 0 0
Michael Doctor (2012) WLB 6'0, 227 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 13 63.5 9.4% 11.0 0.0 1 4 0 1
D.J. Alexander OLB 6'2, 222 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 9 46.5 6.3% 3.0 2.0 0 1 1 0
Rommel Mageo MLB 6'2, 237 So. 2 stars (5.2) 13 31.0 4.2% 5.0 0.0 0 1 0 0
Caleb Saulo WLB 6'1, 230 So. 2 stars (5.4) 12 26.0 3.5% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 1
Joel Skotte MLB 6'2, 240 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 11 14.5 2.0% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Darrell Songy OLB 6'0, 215 So. 2 stars (5.4) 12 9.0 1.2% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Manase Hungalu WLB 6'0, 245 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Jonathan Willis LB 6'2, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
Ricky Liuchan LB 6'2, 205 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Tyrequek Zimmerman SS 6'0, 211 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 13 82.5 11.2% 3 1 0 4 0 0
Ryan Murphy FS 6'3, 213 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 13 58.5 7.9% 8 1.5 3 0 1 0
Steven Nelson CB 5'11, 195 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 13 55.0 7.5% 0 0 6 8 0 0
Rashaad Reynolds CB 13 49.5 6.7% 3.5 1 6 4 2 2
Sean Martin CB 13 40.0 5.4% 4.5 1 2 2 0 0
Cyril Noland-Lewis FS 6'0, 210 So. 3 stars (5.6) 13 15.0 2.0% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Steven Christian FS 13 8.5 1.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Larry Scott CB 5'11, 195 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 12 7.0 0.9% 0 0 1 0 1 0
Zack Robinson FS 6'1, 205 So. 3 stars (5.5) 11 5.0 0.7% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Micah Audiss SS 6'1, 211 Jr. NR 13 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Malcolm Marable (2012) CB 5'7, 172 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 13 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Naji Patrick CB 5'8, 195 Jr. NR 13 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dashon Hunt CB 5'8, 182 RSFr. 4 stars (5.8)
Brandon Arnold SS 5'11, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7)
Charles Okonkwo CB 6'0, 165 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Justin Strong SS 5'9, 188 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Demarlon Morris CB 6'0, 190 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)
Adam Soesman S 6'2, 190 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

8. Loads of experience in the back

This could turn into a strength-gets-weaker, weakness-gets-stronger situation for the Oregon State defense in 2014. The return of Doctor and all other linebackers, along with the "can't get worse" nature of the defensive tackles, suggests the Beavers' run defense should improve. But without Crichton and corners Rashaad Reynolds and Sean Martin (combined: 8.0 tackles for loss, 14 passes defensed), the pass defense might decline a bit.

It's not a given, though. The secondary will be led by three seniors, including starting safeties Tyrequek Zimmerman and Ryan Murphy (combined: 11 tackles for loss, seven passes defensed) and aggressive corner Steven Nelson. High-profile redshirt freshmen Dashon Hunt and Brandon Arnold are available, as are senior Malcolm Marable (injured in 2012) and JUCO transfer Demarion Morris. Steady play at safety should provide a security blanket, and there are enough warm bodies with decent résumés at the corner position to assume that one or two take a step forward when asked. It is highly unlikely that the pass defense regresses like the run defense did last fall.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Keith Kostol 6'4, 201 Sr. 52 40.5 5 22 23 86.5%
Tim McMullen 3 41.3 0 0 0 0.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Trevor Romaine 6'0, 196 Sr. 82 61.6 28 1 34.1%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Trevor Romaine 6'0, 196 Sr. 50-52 11-13 84.6% 3-7 42.9%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Victor Bolden KR 5'9, 172 So. 58 20.7 1
Terron Ward KR 5'7, 197 Sr. 3 18.7 0
Brandin Cooks PR 12 6.0 0
Rashaad Reynolds PR 6 5.2 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 73
Field Goal Efficiency 72
Punt Return Efficiency 102
Kick Return Efficiency 79
Punt Efficiency 44
Kickoff Efficiency 45
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 106

9. A fair catch machine

Considering inefficient run defense and all-or-nothing (and mostly nothing) tendencies in the return game, it's a wonder that Oregon State fared as well as it did in the field position battle. But the Beavers did cover kicks rather well, and they did have Keith Kostol booting some of the highest punts in the country and minimizing opponents' return opportunities. They could use a little bit more from special teams this year, but Kostol's return is a positive.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Portland State NR
6-Sep at Hawaii 97
20-Sep San Diego State 81
27-Sep at USC 9
4-Oct at Colorado 99
16-Oct Utah 45
25-Oct at Stanford 6
1-Nov California 82
8-Nov Washington State 68
15-Nov Arizona State 21
22-Nov at Washington 28
29-Nov Oregon 3
Five-Year F/+ Rk 7.4% (42)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 44
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* 3 / -8.1
TO Luck/Game +4.3
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 14 (7, 7)

10. Hit the ground running

As with last year, most of Oregon State's more beatable opponents show up early in the schedule. In the first five games, the Beavers will have played Hawaii, San Diego State, Colorado, and Portland State; granted, they must travel to both Hawaii and Colorado, and both of those teams should take nice steps forward this year. Still, Oregon State should be good enough to be about 5-1 when the road trip to Stanford comes up on October 25. And with Washington State and California visiting in November, bowl eligibility is likely even if there's an EWU-style upset along the way.

So basically, Oregon State is probably going to be a top-45 team and finish with about seven or eight wins in 2014. Just like 2013 and, on average, most of the last few seasons.

There's potential risk for Glen Mason Territory here, especially with the ongoing success of OSU's in-state rival, and especially with the rapidly improving state of the Pac-12 overall. Still, Riley has steadied the ship after a bumpy couple of seasons, and he's been able to build a consistently solid program in Corvallis, where one didn't previously exist.

His Beavers should once again be salty, entertaining, and fast in 2014. That's enough for now, right?