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Oregon State made a great hire, but someone still has to lose Pac-12 games

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It's gonna take a while for an impressive coaching staff to produce winning results.

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Somebody has to lose

On paper, it was a steal. Oregon State lost a guy who had won 29 games in five years and replaced him with a guy who's won 30 in three. When Mike Riley surprised many by both being offered and accepting the Nebraska job in last year's coaching carousel, the Beavers yanked Gary Andersen out from Wisconsin's grasp.

Andersen has crafted an impeccable résumé for a coach based in the West.

After a slow rise -- Ricks College, Idaho State, Northern Arizona, Park City (Utah) High School -- the former Utah lineman got a break at his alma mater, landing on Ron McBride's staff in the late-1990s and, after a year as Southern Utah's head coach, serving as Urban Meyer's Utah defensive line coach in 2004. When Meyer left and Kyle Whittingham was promoted to head coach, Andersen was his defensive coordinator for four years. In 2007-08, Utah ranked 10th and 25th in Def. S&P+, and Utah State hired him to attempt a salvage job in Logan.

He did more than salvage; he built a sturdy program.

The Aggies had been to one bowl in 15 years when he arrived. This program had bottomed out, and it took him a couple of years to get the foundation laid down. But in his third season (2011), USU rode an exciting run game to a 7-6 record and Potato Bowl appearance. And in 2012, the defense came around; USU ranked 13th in overall F/+ and won 11 games for the first time in its FBS history. He left for Wisconsin, but his foundation was sound enough that, despite injuries, USU has won 20 games over the last two years without him.

At Wisconsin, Andersen won 19 games and made a Big Ten title appearance. His Badgers dealt with injuries and ineffectiveness at quarterback and in 2014 had to replace almost their entire starting front seven, but the wins continued. The Andersen formula is simple: smart defense + good running game = scoreboard.

That Oregon State, with its two winning seasons in five years and three total Rose Bowl appearances (none in 50 years), was able to pluck away the coach of the Big Ten West champions was an impressive statement. The Beavers are pouring money into upgrading their lot in life, and this was an excellent first step. And the move looked even better when Andersen put together his staff.

Offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin has put together one of the more underrated runs: he was in charge of a Michigan State offense that ranked 10th in Off. S&P+ in 2005, he had Utah State ranked 30th by his third year, and he had Colorado State's offense up to 36th by his third year of working for Jim McElwain. He has proved adaptable and successful.

On defense, Andersen one-upped himself, landing up-and-coming coordinator Kalani Sitake, who had spent the last six seasons as Whittingham's D.C. at Utah. Utah only once ranked outside of the Def. S&P+ top 30.

I like virtually everything about this. But that statement also goes for most of the Pac-12.

No conference has done a better job of upgrading its coaching roster. Oregon (Chip Kelly, then Mark Helfrich), Stanford (Jim Harbaugh, then David Shaw), Arizona (Rich Rodriguez), Arizona State (Todd Graham), Washington (Chris Petersen), Washington State (Mike Leach), UCLA (Jim Mora), California (Sonny Dykes), and Colorado (Mike MacIntyre) have all made hires that were between sensible and awesome. Steve Sarkisian at USC was the least impressive of recent years, but he has his strengths and lots of margin for error.

Coaching is a zero-sum affair. Somebody has to lose every game. As good as Andersen could be in Corvallis, he also has to be better than a lot of the names in that last paragraph. And he's damn near starting from scratch at key positions. (First big decision on the docket: choosing which of a handful of freshman quarterbacks is going to run Baldwin's offense.)

Getting to or near the top of the Pac-12 North will require his best effort yet. It will also take time.

2014 Schedule & Results

Record: 5-7 | Adj. Record: 4-8 | Final F/+ Rk: 74
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Adj. Scoring
Margin
Win
Expectancy
30-Aug Portland State N/A 29-14 W 63% 8.0 98%
6-Sep at Hawaii 111 38-30 W 79% 18.6 99%
20-Sep San Diego State 76 28-7 W 93% 34.8 99%
27-Sep at USC 16 10-35 L 13% -26.4 0%
4-Oct at Colorado 83 36-31 W 36% -8.3 38%
16-Oct Utah 29 23-29 L 46% -2.3 24%
25-Oct at Stanford 18 14-38 L 23% -17.4 0%
1-Nov California 65 31-45 L 49% -0.7 46%
8-Nov Washington State 77 32-39 L 43% -4.0 44%
15-Nov Arizona State 27 35-27 W 86% 25.2 88%
22-Nov at Washington 58 13-37 L 21% -19.1 2%
29-Nov Oregon 3 19-47 L 13% -26.3 0%

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 28.6 65 29.7 73
Points Per Game 25.7 89 31.6 98

2. A misleading start

A few weeks in, it looked like this was going to be another one of Mike Riley's random success stories. After a string early in Riley's second stint in Corvallis -- the Beavers went to six bowls in seven years and won 28 games from 2006-08 -- the later years were defined by ups and downs. OSU's win total changed by at least two games each year from 2009-14, hitting rock bottom in 2011 (3-9) then surging (9-4).

The Beavers didn't look amazing in wins over Portland State and Hawaii, but they were good enough; then, against San Diego State, they were great.

And then the rest of the season happened.

  • Average Percentile Performance (first 3 games): 78% (~top 30 | record: 3-0)
  • Average Percentile Performance (first 3 games): 37% (~top 80 | record: 2-7)

The offense fell into a funk early in Pac-12 play, gaining 181 yards against USC and 221 against Stanford. And as the Beavers figured out how to move the ball, the defense fell apart, allowing at least 5.8 yards per play in four of the last five games and at least 8.2 against both Washington and Oregon.

The ups and downs resulted in what seemed like pretty standard full-season ratings: Oregon State ranked 65th in Off. S&P+ and 73rd in Def. S&P+. But both units looked far better and far worse than that for much of the season.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.84 74 IsoPPP+ 102.9 61
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.0% 60 Succ. Rt. + 102.0 62
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 29.2 57 Def. FP+ 103.0 33
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.0 90 Redzone S&P+ 93.1 84
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 18.1 ACTUAL 14 -4.1
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 75 59 63 61
RUSHING 113 30 44 25
PASSING 32 83 77 85
Standard Downs 59 48 64
Passing Downs 70 105 48
Q1 Rk 41 1st Down Rk 60
Q2 Rk 88 2nd Down Rk 65
Q3 Rk 57 3rd Down Rk 57
Q4 Rk 90

3. A Dave Baldwin offense

In 2011, Baldwin's Utah State ran 75 percent of the time on standard downs and 46 percent on passing downs. With freshman Chuckie Keeton running the show, Robert Turbin, Michael Smith, and Kerwynn Williams combined to rush 34 times per game, with a decent amount of efficiency passing. And it worked. Despite a defense that hadn't come around, USU went 7-6 and scored 38 points on Auburn and 34 against Colorado State.

In 2014, Baldwin's Colorado State ran 53 percent of the time on standard downs and 29 percent on passing downs. Three running backs combined to average 25 carries per game, but quarterback Garrett Grayson threw 34 times per game, frequently downfield to All-American Rashard Higgins. CSU passed to set up the run and burned opponents deep.

There are three constants to a Baldwin offense: commitment to physicality, plodding pace, and acceptance of the talent on hand.

So what does that mean for Oregon State in 2015? A lot of rushing, probably. For one thing, the Beavers return a strong running back in Barrs-Woods, who broke through after early-career ups and downs. Barrs-Woods battled injury again, but in his last four games, he rushed 53 times for 378 yards (7.1); between Barrs-Woods, junior Chris Brown, and big JUCO transfer Tim Cook, the Beavers might have enough options to produce a solid, run-heavy attack.

That's good because, unless there's another Keeton-esque surprise, quarterback will be limited.

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2015 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Sean Mannion
282 453 3164 15 8 62.3% 36 7.4% 5.9
Luke Del Rio
8 18 141 0 0 44.4% 0 0.0% 7.8
Nick Mitchell 6'2, 195 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8463
Marcus McMaryion 6'1, 199 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8406
Seth Collins 6'3, 186 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8113

4. Got a quarterback?

Sean Mannion finally graduated after a productive four years behind center. And I do mean productive: 1,187 completions, 13,600 yards, 83 touchdowns. He cut his interception rate in half from his freshman year to his senior year, and he managed decent moments in 2014 despite turnover in the receiving corps.

Mannion's assumed replacement, Luke Del Rio, transferred. That leaves Baldwin to choose between two redshirt freshmen (Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion) and an unheralded true freshman (Seth Collins). Baldwin and Andersen have proclaimed the desire for a mobile element, and there's a chance this offense resembles what they had during Keeton's freshman season.

Keeton was a steal, but they eased him into the role regardless. All they can hope is that the run is good enough to prevent second- and third-and-long situations.

When the freshman QB of choice does have to pass, he might have options. Victor Bolden is an efficiency quarterback's dream; he caught two-thirds of Mannion's passes last year, and if the goal is to have the QB throwing mostly on second-and-3 or third-and-4, Bolden could see a lot of action. Barrs-Woods could also be a frequent target.

If Baldwin gets an itch to send people deep, a couple of sophomores could help to feed those urges. Jordan Villamin is a terrifying combination: 235 pounds and 16.5 yards per catch. He will probably be used closer to the line, but he and Hunter Jarmon could provide big-play threats when necessary.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Terron Ward RB
133 696 10 5.2 5.6 36.8% 0 0
Storm Barrs-Woods RB 6'0, 203 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8448 121 766 5 6.3 6.5 42.1% 1 1
Chris Brown RB 5'10, 205 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8781 22 91 2 4.1 4.0 36.4% 0 0
Victor Bolden WR 5'9, 172 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8351 19 118 0 6.2 3.3 63.2% 1 1
Damien Haskins RB 5'9, 224 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8525 13 49 1 3.8 6.1 15.4% 0 0
Sean Mannion QB
12 -8 1 -0.7 3.1 41.7% 8 2
Tim Cook RB 6'1, 235 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8494
Deltron Sands RB 5'9, 180 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8398







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Victor Bolden WR 5'9, 172 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8351 107 72 798 67.3% 23.2% 69.2% 7.5 -65 7.6 94.0
Jordan Villamin WR 6'4, 235 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8529 63 35 578 55.6% 13.6% 63.5% 9.2 142 9.4 68.0
Connor Hamlett TE
49 32 342 65.3% 10.6% 49.0% 7.0 -44 6.8 40.3
Terron Ward RB
46 29 229 63.0% 10.0% 50.0% 5.0 -123 5.2 27.0
Caleb Smith TE 6'6, 263 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8546 38 20 202 52.6% 8.2% 63.2% 5.3 -50 5.1 23.8
Richard Mullaney WR
36 18 216 50.0% 7.8% 63.9% 6.0 -13 6.0 25.4
Hunter Jarmon WR 5'11, 198 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8511 35 20 334 57.1% 7.6% 40.0% 9.5 87 8.2 39.3
Storm Barrs-Woods RB 6'0, 203 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8448 34 26 179 76.5% 7.4% 52.9% 5.3 -126 5.4 21.1
Kellen Clute (2013) TE 6'5, 256 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8115 27 19 159 70.4% 4.5% 68.0% 5.9 -61 4.9 21.0
Ricky Ortiz TE 6'0, 238 Jr. NR NR 15 12 90 80.0% 3.2% 86.7% 6.0 -50 6.7 10.6
Rahmel Dockery WR 5'10, 179 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8211 9 7 184 77.8% 1.9% 55.6% 20.4 102 20.9 21.7
Tyler Anderson FB
9 7 37 77.8% 1.9% 66.7% 4.1 -45 4.3 4.4
Chris Brown RB 5'10, 205 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8781 9 5 37 55.6% 1.9% 77.8% 4.1 -25 4.0 4.4
Damien Haskins RB 5'9, 224 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8525 5 3 26 60.0% 1.1% 80.0% 5.2 -11 3.7 3.1
Malik Gilmore WR 6'3, 217 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8789 2 1 15 50.0% 0.4% 0.0% 7.5 2 N/A 1.8
Xavier Hawkins WR 5'7, 176 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8275
Brent VanderVeen TE 6'5, 217 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8547
Ryan Nall RB/TE 6'2, 252 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033
Datrin Guyton WR 6'5, 185 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8666
Paul Lucas WR 5'10, 175 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8722
Noah Togiai TE 6'4, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8556
Tuli Wily-Matagi TE 6'3, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8457

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 100.2 3.07 2.5 39.5% 66.7% 18.8% 92.7 6.4% 8.1%
Rank 71 45 115 61 66 60 81 96 76
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Career Starts Honors/Notes
Isaac Seumalo (2013) C 6'5, 310 Jr. 4 stars (6.0) 0.9872 23 2013 2nd All-Pac-12
Sean Harlow LT 6'4, 298 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8640 21
Josh Mitchell C 6'3, 306 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8114 15
Roman Sapolu LG
11
Gavin Andrews RG 6'6, 343 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8466 10
Grant Bays C
10
Dustin Stanton RT 6'5, 289 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8394 6
Fred Lauina LG 6'4, 315 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893 5
Garrett Weinreich RT
1
Nolan Hansen LG
0
Bobby Keenan LT 6'6, 282 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7785 0
Will Hopkins OL 6'7, 267 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8132 0
Kammy Delp RG 6'3, 340 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8590
Drew Clarkson OL 6'3, 286 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8404
Yanni Demogerontas OL 6'3, 288 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7900
Sosaia Tauaho OL 6'4, 330 Jr. NR NR
Mike Fifita OL 6'5, 280 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8467
Blake Brandel OT 6'7, 275 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8447

5. The line never had a chance

The line's run-blocking actually improved, from 83rd in Adj. Line Yards in 2013 to 71st. That's still mediocre, obviously, but any improvement was impressive considering the turnover.

Oregon State had to replace three who had combined for 111 career starts, then lost all-conference center Isaac Seumalo before the season. Oregon State ended up starting five different combinations; Gavin Andrews started at three positions, and two others started at two or more. The sack rates increased, but the run-blocking was steady, and that was a minor miracle.

Now Seumalo returns, as do five players who have combined for 57 starts. Andersen brought line coach T.J. Woods from Utah State to Wisconsin to Oregon State, and he should be able to do good things. And that's huge; if Oregon State can run, the Beavers are infinitely more likely to survive life with a freshman quarterback.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 0.90 92 IsoPPP+ 96.1 81
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 42.0% 76 Succ. Rt. + 100.6 60
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 30.3 66 Off. FP+ 102.0 38
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 4.8 108 Redzone S&P+ 104.1 47
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 21.3 ACTUAL 18.0 -3.3
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 76 69 60 81
RUSHING 53 115 108 115
PASSING 94 37 30 46
Standard Downs 70 74 70
Passing Downs 86 44 100
Q1 Rk 58 1st Down Rk 73
Q2 Rk 103 2nd Down Rk 73
Q3 Rk 7 3rd Down Rk 63
Q4 Rk 110

6. A Kalani Sitake defense

Andersen doesn't do bad defenses. He was successful as Utah's coordinator, and he found great success working with coordinator Dave Aranda at Utah State and Wisconsin. Aranda stayed in Madison, so Anderson is getting reacquainted with Sitake.

Sitake's Utah defenses were do-it-all units. They were stout against the run, and their backs were active against the pass. Passing was a far less terrifying option for opponents in 2014, but the Utes still got hands on quarterbacks and the passes they threw.

Sitake has his work cut out for him. There are some exciting pieces -- senior end Lavonte Barnett is a solid pass rusher, Justin Strong was super active for a freshman safety (five tackles for loss, three break-ups), and Larry Scott's 11 break-ups suggest he can be pretty sticky and aggressive.

But the new blood extends far beyond the coaching booth. Oregon State is tasked with replacing its top three players at each level of the defense: line, linebacker, and secondary. Known quantities are far fewer than what Sitake was working with in Salt Lake City.

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 97.1 3.15 3.24 42.3% 63.8% 21.9% 94.8 5.0% 6.8%
Rank 78 94 61 101 45 34 77 52 78
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Dylan Wynn DE
12 42.5 6.6% 12.0 4.5 1 0 1 0
Obum Gwacham DE
12 22.5 3.5% 5.5 4.0 0 0 1 0
Bud Delva DT
12 21.0 3.2% 6.5 4.0 0 0 2 0
Lavonte Barnett DE 6'3, 262 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8478 10 13.5 2.1% 5.5 4.5 0 2 0 0
Jaswha James DE 6'2, 264 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8439 10 13.0 2.0% 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Siale Hautau DT
12 9.0 1.4% 1.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Luke Hollingsworth DT 6'3, 270 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7600 8 8.0 1.2% 2.5 1.0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Grimble DT 6'2, 291 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.9160 6 5.0 0.8% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Bennett-Jackson DT
9 4.0 0.6% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Titus Failauga DE 6'3, 250 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8017 8 2.0 0.3% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Ali'i Robins DT 6'2, 289 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8010 8 1.5 0.2% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Peko DT 6'1, 317 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8607
Noke Tago DT 6'2, 304 Jr. NR NR
Baker Pritchard DE 6'3, 258 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8640
Kalani Vakameilalo DT 6'3, 318 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8610
LaMone Williams DE 6'2, 267 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8298
Sumner Houston DT 6'2, 276 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8102
Elu Aydon DT 6'3, 335 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8417

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
D.J. Alexander WILL
12 58.5 9.0% 12.0 4.0 1 0 0 0
Michael Doctor SAM
12 54.0 8.3% 5.0 0.0 3 3 2 0
Jabral Johnson MIKE
12 48.5 7.5% 2.5 0.0 0 2 1 0
Rommel Mageo MIKE 6'2, 232 Jr. 2 stars (5.2) 0.7000 11 17.0 2.6% 0.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Caleb Saulo WILL 6'1, 232 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8152 11 4.0 0.6% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Kyle Haley SAM 6'0, 217 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8100
Darrell Songy LB 6'0, 223 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8170
Manase Hungalu MIKE 6'0, 229 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7556
T.J. Hufanga MIKE 5'11, 237 So. NR NR
Bright Ugwoegbu LB 6'1, 210 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8104
Jonathan Willis LB 6'0, 209 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8019
Ricky Liuchan LB 6'1, 237 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8266
Christian Folau LB 6'1, 240 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8829








7. Scary depth

Oregon State's depth was already questionable. The Beavers were good in the first and third quarters of games (58th in Q1 S&P+, seventh in Q3) and horrendous in the second (103rd) and fourth (110th), and the defense suffered far more miscues as the season unfolded, allowing 4.6 yards per play in September, 5.7 in October, and 6.6 in November.

And that was before nine starters were lopped off of the depth chart.

To their long-term credit and short-term detriment, Andersen and Sitake did not load up on JUCOs to stem the bleeding. This means more five-year players and better depth down the line, but it also means the Beavers will be taking the field with last year's backups and a bunch of redshirt freshmen.

The good news, as it were, is that the run defense probably isn't going to be any worse. OSU ranked 115th in Rushing S&P+ last fall, and you can only fall so many spots below that. The pass rush could be promising with players like Barnett and Luke Hollingsworth in the mix, but Sitake might find his attempts at aggression thwarted by inexperience.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Tyrequek Zimmerman FS
12 74.5 11.5% 2 1 3 2 0 0
Ryan Murphy SS
12 52.0 8.0% 6.5 0 1 8 1 0
Steven Nelson CB
12 48.5 7.5% 2 0 2 8 0 0
Justin Strong SS 5'9, 195 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8295 12 48.0 7.4% 5 1 0 3 1 0
Larry Scott CB 5'11, 192 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7994 12 35.5 5.5% 2 0 0 11 0 0
Cyril Noland-Lewis FS 6'1, 206 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8453 12 24.0 3.7% 2 2 0 0 0 0
Zack Robinson SS
8 3.0 0.5% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Naji Patrick CB 5'8, 192 Sr. NR NR 7 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kendall Hill CB 6'1, 206 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7973
Devin Chappell CB 6'2, 197 Jr. NR NR
Charles Okonkwo CB 6'1, 190 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8560
Brandon Arnold FS 5'11, 197 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8528
Chris Hayes CB 6'1, 187 So. NR NR
Dwayne Williams CB 5'9, 176 RSFr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7752
Adam Soesman S 6'1, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8475
Treston Decoud CB 6'3, 205 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8152
Shawn Wilson CB 5'10, 165 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8498
Xavier Crawford CB 6'0, 177 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8295

8. Exciting but thin

Justin Strong and Cyril Noland-Lewis hinted at playmaking ability at the safety position, and Scott's a keeper at corner. You can build around that.

But they were basically the only returning DBs who saw the field, and there aren't exactly many star recruits coming down the down the pike. Sophomores Charles Okonkwo and Brandon Arnold are promising athletes, but the next big play either makes will be the first.

Is conservatism in Sitake's nature? On offense, you can see how a run-first, slow-it-down attack can benefit a young quarterback. But how do you slow it down on defense? Plenty of teams have thrived with a bend-don't-break approach, aiming to prevent big plays and force opponents to use 10-12 mistake-free snaps to score.

But while Sitake's Utah defenses weren't bonzai units like a Virginia Tech or Michigan State, they were aggressive. So were Andersen's. How much attacking will they be able to get away with? Can solid safety play cover up mountains of inexperience?

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Keith Kostol 69 39.6 1 23 23 66.7%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Trevor Romaine 34 63.0 19 0 55.9%
Garrett Owens 5'9, 181 So. 29 59.2 6 0 20.7%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2015
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Garrett Owens 5'9, 181 So. 17-17 9-10 90.0% 2-3 66.7%
Trevor Romaine 16-16 5-6 83.3% 3-3 100.0%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2015
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Malcolm Marable KR 32 23.7 0
Ryan Murphy KR 13 22.7 1
Rahmel Dockery PR 5'10, 179 Jr. 8 6.1 0
Victor Bolden PR 5'9, 172 Jr. 4 11.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 70
Field Goal Efficiency 2
Punt Return Efficiency 99
Kick Return Efficiency 43
Punt Efficiency 109
Kickoff Efficiency 64
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 75

9. At least Owens is strong

Oregon State might not have a ton of scoring opportunities in 2015, but Garrett Owens should assure that the Beavers finish with points when they get the shot.Owens bailed them out against both Portland State and Washington State last year, making nine of 11 field goal attempts in those two games. He also missed two against PSU in his first collegiate game, but he didn't miss another one after that.

It's unclear whether this unit can help Oregon State out at all in the field position battle, however. The Beavers will be breaking in a new punter and a new kick return man, and leading returning punt returner Rahmel Dockery did next to nothing last year. Field position could be an important battle for this limited squad; I'm not sure special teams will carry its weight in that regard.

2015 Schedule & Projection Factors

2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk
4-Sep Weber State NR
12-Sep at Michigan 35
19-Sep San Jose State 105
25-Sep Stanford 11
10-Oct at Arizona 34
17-Oct at Washington State 66
24-Oct Colorado 75
31-Oct at Utah 39
7-Nov UCLA 7
14-Nov at California 51
21-Nov Washington 55
27-Nov at Oregon 4
Five-Year F/+ Rk 9.9% (44)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 63 / 53
2014 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* 4 / 3.2
2014 TO Luck/Game +0.3
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 8 (6, 2)
2014 Second-order wins (difference) 5.4 (-0.4)

10. This is going to take some time

I might have liked the Andersen hire as much as any made in last season's carousel. But Riley did not leave Andersen a stocked cupboard, and after some offseason defections, the Beavers will have the thinnest two-deep in the conference.

Against this schedule, it would probably take a top-60 team to threaten 6-6, and I just don't see any way that even a good coach could pull off that, not with zero quarterback experience and so many new pieces on a thin defense.

The run game and sound defensive coaching will give OSU a chance at highlights. The Beavers should beat Weber State and San Jose State and remain close enough to have a shot against the trio of Washington State, Colorado, Washington, and maybe Cal. There's athleticism, and if Andersen finds some pieces, they'll have time to develop and thrive in coming years.

But this is a reset year, a Year Zero situation, in Corvallis.