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Gary Andersen will need at least another year to turn around Oregon State

This is Bill C.'s 128-team college football preview. Oregon State kicks off the Pac-12.

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.

1. Extreme Year Zero

The Year Zero concept is easy enough to explain. Sometimes a coach's first year at a given job almost isn't a first year at all. Sometimes he inherits a squad that is so out of sorts, or depleted or simply not filled with the type of players he needs for the system he wants to implement. In these instances, you basically give him a season to figure out where all the pieces should go and bring in a full year's recruiting class, and then you start the timer in the second year.

My go-to examples are pretty obvious -- Lou Holtz going 0-11 at South Carolina in 1999, then going 17-7 in 2000-01; George O'Leary going 0-11 at UCF in 2004, then going 8-5 in 2005 -- but every year we get more examples of the concept.

I'm not sure "Year Zero" goes far enough in describing what Gary Andersen went through at Oregon State in 2015. This might have been Year Minus-One. It's hard to imagine a less favorable situation to walk into, especially considering he walked into it in the Pac-12, a conference that might have the highest floor of any in college football.

Oregon State had regressed pretty considerably in each of its last two seasons under Mike Riley, who somehow managed to escape the slide by landing the Nebraska job. But while OSU pulled a coup of its own in luring Andersen from Wisconsin, the two-deep didn't give him much to work with and may not again.

  • His quarterbacks were redshirt freshmen Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion and true freshman Seth Collins.
  • His senior running back (Storm Woods) missed four games, and his backup running back was a redshirt freshman H-back/tight end (Ryan Nall).
  • His best tight end (Caleb Smith) played only two games, and only one junior or senior caught more than 15 passes.
  • His offensive line started four freshmen or sophomores at least once.
  • Freshmen and sophomores accounted for three of the top five tacklers on the defensive line, five of the top 10 at linebacker.
  • His secondary was reasonably experienced but constantly banged up; only two of the top 10 DBs played in all 12 games.

The cocktail of youth and injury was incredible, and predictably, OSU had no chance whatsoever of succeeding. The defense had a little bit of success against bad teams; the offense had success against almost nobody. OSU scored more than 24 points four times, but two of the four came while allowing more than 50. Meanwhile, the one time the defense allowed fewer than 21 points to an FBS opponent (17 against Colorado), the offense scored 13.

The best news about the 2015 season is that it ended. But not without a cost. At the end of the year, two of the three freshman QBs transferred (one, Collins, returned as a wide receiver), as did the leading tacklers in the linebacking corps and secondary. Plus, maybe the two best players on the team -- all-conference offensive linemen Josh Mitchell and Isaac Seumalo -- graduated, and Andersen lost defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake, now the head coach at BYU. (He also reassigned offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin, instead giving QBs coach Kevin McGiven and tight ends coach T.J. Woods co-coordinator titles.)

Andersen came back to the west coast, in part because he knows how to succeed here. He knows the avenues and pathways. He has connections. When he took the Wisconsin job in 2013, he hadn't coached east of Utah since 1988, when he was a 24-year old offensive coordinator at Southeastern Louisiana. The move made sense in a lot of ways. But wow, is the task ahead of him pretty tall.

2015 Schedule & Results

Record: 2-10 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 107 | Final S&P+ Rk: 102
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Percentile
Performance
Win
Expectancy
vs. S&P+ Performance
vs. Vegas
4-Sep Weber State N/A 26-7 W 89% 100% +5.9
12-Sep at Michigan 8 7-35 L 16% 0% -10.9 -12.0
19-Sep San Jose State 89 35-21 W 77% 83% +7.7 +6.5
25-Sep Stanford 6 24-42 L 25% 0% -0.5 -2.5
10-Oct at Arizona 77 7-44 L 12% 0% -36.2 -27.0
17-Oct at Washington State 54 31-52 L 8% 0% -17.6 -13.0
24-Oct Colorado 94 13-17 L 42% 27% -4.1 -6.0
31-Oct at Utah 22 12-27 L 35% 6% +12.0 +9.0
7-Nov UCLA 28 0-41 L 7% 0% -20.8 -23.5
14-Nov at California 29 24-54 L 18% 0% -7.8 -9.5
21-Nov Washington 13 7-52 L 6% 0% -24.8 -30.0
27-Nov at Oregon 23 42-52 L 28% 2% +17.1 +24.5

Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
S&P+ 24.0 97 35.4 110
Points Per Game 19.0 115 37.0 114

2. The defense needed an athleticism advantage (and the offense was just bad)

Oregon State got just about the easiest possible schedule for a team in the Pac-12 North, drawing Colorado and slumping Arizona among its Pac-12 South opponents. But even with a couple of non-conference gimmes, the Beavers still only played five teams that ranked worse than 29th in last year's F/+ ratings. That's probably not good when you rank 107th.

As you would expect, OSU fared better against the five lesser teams on the schedule, but only one side of the ball actually saw any change.

  • Oregon State vs. F/+ top 30:
    Record: 0-7 | Average percentile performance: 19% (~top 105) | Yards per play: Opp 7.1, OSU 5.1 (-2.0)
  • Oregon State vs. Everyone Else:
    Record: 2-3 | Average percentile performance: 46% (~top 70) | Yards per play: Opp 5.4, OSU 5.2 (-0.2)

When you're cycling through freshman quarterbacks, your offense is almost certainly not going to succeed. But the defense showed some semblance of game management against lesser teams. Weber State and San Jose State combined to average just 3.5 yards per play, and Colorado averaged 4.8.

Granted, Arizona and Washington State each averaged 7 or more, but Andersen, a coach with a strong defensive history on his résumé, at least showed that his team could control opposing offenses if it had some semblance of an athleticism and experience advantage. Now his job is obvious: create that advantage more often.

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.17 108 IsoPPP+ 86.9 111
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 37.7% 107 Succ. Rt. + 87.9 112
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 31.3 102 Def. FP+ 30.5 87
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 3.8 115 Redzone S&P+ 91.2 107
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 17.9 ACTUAL 16 -1.9
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 111 110 112 111
RUSHING 60 98 100 84
PASSING 116 115 116 114
Standard Downs 92 88 95
Passing Downs 123 125 119
Q1 Rk 97 1st Down Rk 99
Q2 Rk 112 2nd Down Rk 105
Q3 Rk 90 3rd Down Rk 55
Q4 Rk 99

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Seth Collins 83 160 935 6 4 51.9% 6 3.6% 5.4
Darell Garretson
(Utah State)
6'0, 208 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7833 91 135 1140 8 3 67.4% 9 6.3% 7.6
Nick Mitchell 51 113 571 3 4 45.1% 8 6.6% 4.3
Marcus McMaryion 6'1, 206 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8406 27 67 403 1 3 40.3% 4 5.6% 5.3
Mason Moran 6'3, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8558








3. Is Garretson the guy?

True freshman Seth Collins began the season as OSU's starting quarterback, showed hints of promise against Stanford (20-for-36 for 275 yards and a touchdown) and Washington State (124 rushing yards) and was on his way to a nice game against Colorado (4-for-7 for 77 yards, 50 rushing yards) when he suffered a knee injury that kept him out of most of the rest of the season. His athleticism was obvious --thanks in part to Storm Woods' own injury, Collins finished the season as OSU's leading rusher. He's now a wide receiver after a brief transfer flirtation.

It was next Nick Mitchell's turn. After Collins' solid start against CU, Mitchell came in and went 9-for-24. He was decent against Utah and California, but not really. And he was 0-for-7 against Washington when Marcus McMaryion took over. Mitchell transferred to Dixie State.

McMaryion had been mostly dreadful. He was 8-for-30 passing before the Washington game and, with the offense turned over to him, he was a less bad 19-for-37 for 263 yards, one TD, and two picks against UW and Oregon.

Of the three freshmen who threw passes for the Beavers last year, those responsible for 273 of 340 are either gone or playing a different position. But here comes Darell Garretson to maybe save the day. Garretson was an Andersen recruit at Utah State and spent parts of two seasons in Logan hinting at potential. He took over for oft-injured Chuckie Keeton (now an OSU assistant) in 2013, then got hurt himself in 2014. In 14 career games, he threw for 2,576 yards with a 63 percent completion rate and 137.9 passer rating. He's not much of a runner, but he's immediately the most proven QB on the roster. And he's very nearly the only one, too -- only McMaryion and incoming freshman Mason Moran remain.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Opp.
Opp.
Rate
Fumbles Fum.
Lost
Seth Collins QB/WR 6'3, 195 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8113 102 613 8 6.0 5.2 50.0% 2 1
Storm Woods RB 99 491 1 5.0 3.8 40.4% 1 0
Ryan Nall RB 6'2, 235 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 73 455 3 6.2 5.0 50.7% 0 0
Victor Bolden IR 5'9, 181 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8351 36 185 0 5.1 3.4 47.2% 1 1
Chris Brown RB 32 141 1 4.4 3.6 37.5% 0 0
Nick Mitchell QB 27 127 1 4.7 2.6 51.9% 4 2
Paul Lucas IR 5'11, 187 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8722 23 172 0 7.5 14.6 30.4% 0 0
Marcus McMaryion QB 6'1, 206 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8406 12 47 1 3.9 1.3 33.3% 0 0
Damien Haskins RB 5'9, 223 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8525 7 62 0 8.9 14.0 42.9% 0 0
Deltron Sands RB 6 23 0 3.8 1.6 33.3% 0 0
Tim Cook RB 6'1, 232 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8494
Kyle White RB 6'0, 192 Jr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8331
Artavis Pierce RB 5'11, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8228







Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
Yds/
Target
%SD Success
Rate
IsoPPP
Jordan Villamin OR 6'5, 232 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8529 88 43 660 48.9% 27.8% 7.5 59.1% 40.9% 1.71
Victor Bolden IR 5'9, 181 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8351 88 46 461 52.3% 27.8% 5.2 61.4% 36.4% 1.30
Caleb Smith
(2014)
TE 6'6, 266 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8546 38 20 202 52.6% 8.2% 5.3 63.2% N/A N/A
Hunter Jarmon OR 5'11, 193 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8511 30 16 177 53.3% 9.5% 5.9 53.3% 33.3% 1.51
Datrin Guyton OR
27 14 178 51.9% 8.5% 6.6 37.0% 40.7% 1.46
Noah Togiai TE 6'4, 237 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8556 20 10 73 50.0% 6.3% 3.7 65.0% 30.0% 1.18
Storm Woods RB 18 12 162 66.7% 5.7% 9.0 61.1% 55.6% 1.54
Ryan Nall RB 6'2, 235 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8033 9 7 109 77.8% 2.8% 12.1 66.7% 55.6% 1.88
Xavier Hawkins IR 5'8, 180 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8275 9 3 24 33.3% 2.8% 2.7 55.6% 33.3% 0.55
Paul Lucas IR 5'11, 187 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8722 6 1 7 16.7% 1.9% 1.2 66.7% 16.7% 0.67
Brent VanderVeen TE
4 1 14 25.0% 1.3% 3.5 50.0% 25.0% 1.52
Rahmel Dockery OR 5'10, 184 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8211 3 2 15 66.7% 0.9% 5.0 33.3% 33.3% 1.28
Chris Brown RB
3 2 6 66.7% 0.9% 2.0 0.0% 0.0% 0.00
Seth Collins QB/WR 6'3, 195 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8113 3 0 0 0.0% 0.9% 0.0 33.3% 0.0% 0.00
Ricky Ortiz TE 6'0, 235 Sr. NR NR
Tuli Wily-Matagi TE 6'4, 255 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8457
Andre Bodden OR 6'0, 178 RSFr. NR NR
Timmy Hernandez OR 6'0, 195 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8177
Trevon Bradford OR 6'0, 180 Fr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8447








4. Variety, at least

Oregon State's running backs depth chart in 2016 will be filled with some combination of Ryan Nall (6'2, 235), Damien Haskins (5'9, 223), JUCO transfer Kyle White (6'0, 192), and freshman Artavis Pierce (5'11, 195). The pecking order in the receiving corps will include big guys (Jordan Villamin, tight ends Caleb Smith and Noa Togiai), little guys (inside receivers Victor Bolden and Hunter Jarmon), and in-betweeners (Collins, JUCO transfer Timmy Hernandez).

At the very least, the Beavers should be able to create a plan of attack that takes advantage of a defense that either doesn't have much size or doesn't have enough speed.

The size lineup is quite a bit more proven. Nall was a revelation at times. The converted tight end battled through injuries that consistently took him off the field, but he had two breakthrough games, gaining 122 yards in 20 carries against Colorado, then putting up 19 carries for 174 yards in the finale against Oregon. He goes by "War Daddy" and delivers as much punishment as he absorbs. If he can stay on the field, he's quite useful.

So is Villamin. If the offense can deliver any sort of efficiency threat with the running game, tight ends, or slot receivers, Villamin could be dangerous downfield. He averaged 15.4 yards per catch and had prolific games against Stanford (seven catches, 138 yards), Utah (three for 94), Cal (seven for 83), and Oregon (four for 72).

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 95.1 3.3 2.32 44.5% 64.3% 18.9% 115.9 4.8% 5.7%
Rank 96 13 120 11 77 55 43 64 31
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. 2015 Starts Career Starts Honors/Notes
Josh Mitchell C 12 27 2015 1st All-Pac-12
Isaac Seumalo RG 12 35 2015 2nd All-Pac-12
Sean Harlow LT 6'4, 298 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8640 7 28
Dustin Stanton RT 6'6, 304 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8394 12 18
Fred Lauina LG 6'4, 310 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7893 10 15
Gavin Andrews RG 6'6, 332 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8466 0 10
Will Hopkins LT 6'7, 293 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8132 3 3
Drew Clarkson LG 6'3, 294 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8404 3 3
Brayden Kearsley
(BYU)
OL 6'4, 293 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 0.8950 0 3
Kammy Delp RG 6'3, 325 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8590 1 1
Trent Moore RT 6'4, 292 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8073 0 0
Yanni Demogerontas C 6'3, 299 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.7900 0 0
Mason Johnson C 6'2, 304 So. NR NR 0 0
Robert Olson LT 6'5, 292 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7556 0 0
Sosaia Tauaho LG 6'3, 313 Sr. NR NR 0 0
Bobby Keenan OL 6'6, 299 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7785 0 0
Leo Fuimaono C 6'2, 300 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8000 0 0
Miki Fifita OL 6'4, 308 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8467

Blake Brandel LT 6'7, 296 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8447

Gus Lavaka RG 6'4, 350 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7858

5. The line was a relative strength

Despite blocking for a different running back and protecting a different quarterback in seemingly every game, OSU's line stats weren't awful. The Beavers struggled in short-yardage (which, in theory, will become less of an issue if Nall can stay healthy) but created a lot of opportunities for their backs and kept their overwhelmed QBs upright for the most part. And they did this without presumptive starting guard Gavin Andrews, who was lost for the season with injury. (Left tackle Sean Harlow missed half the year as well.)

losing Mitchell and Seumalo obviously hurts, but the overall level of experience here is still solid. Of the seven returnees with starting experience (not including BYU transfer Brayden Kearsley), five are juniors and seniors, and tackles Harlow and Dustin Stanton have combined for 46 starts. Simple continuity and experience could lead to quality line play even without the two stars.

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Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.25 63 IsoPPP+ 88.5 103
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 50.4% 127 Succ. Rt. + 93.5 92
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 26.5 123 Off. FP+ 27.5 108
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity 5.0 114 Redzone S&P+ 87.3 115
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 13.7 ACTUAL 12.0 -1.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 116 103 92 103
RUSHING 115 97 104 83
PASSING 99 110 66 118
Standard Downs 99 92 98
Passing Downs 105 75 111
Q1 Rk 99 1st Down Rk 90
Q2 Rk 93 2nd Down Rk 112
Q3 Rk 90 3rd Down Rk 93
Q4 Rk 87

6. A Kevin Clune defense

Kevin Clune was a Utah graduate assistant when Gary Andersen was the Utes' defensive tackles coach in 2001-02 and became Andersen's defensive coordinator at Southern Utah in 2003. When Andersen moved to USU in 2009, Clune came along to coach linebackers.

Clune took the Hawaii DC job in 2013 when Andersen went to Wisconsin, and while it didn't work out well (109th in Def. S&P+), it only lasted a year -- last fall, he was back at Utah State, improving an already good defense to 26th in Def. S&P+.

Clune is a subscriber to the flexible 3-4 defense Andersen prefers; this isn't the most aggressive of schemes, but Andersen and Clune defenses tend to stop the run well and render you one-dimensional. There was no dimension last year for Oregon State.

The Beavers will lean heavily on JUCOs to provide the depth and playmaking ability that Oregon State simply didn't have last year under Sitake. They were bad at everything, but they were particularly bad up front: 126th in opportunity rate allowed, 125th in power success rate allowed, 123rd in stuff rate, 112th in passing downs sack rate. They created no disruption up front, and then they lost half their two-deep. Of the four JUCOs they signed up front (three linemen, one linebacker), at least a couple of them will have to contribute immediately. Otherwise OSU might again be every bit the same pushover up front.

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 88.6 3.40 4.12 47.1% 82.0% 13.8% 87.1 5.4% 4.6%
Rank 112 121 127 126 125 123 85 54 112
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kyle Peko DE 12 34.5 4.6% 4.5 2.0 0 2 0 0
Baker Pritchard DE 6'3, 272 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8640 12 21.0 2.8% 1.5 1.5 0 1 0 0
Lavonte Barnett DE 12 19.5 2.6% 4.0 2.0 0 1 1 0
Sumner Houston DE 6'2, 290 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8102 12 14.5 1.9% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Grimble NT 5 12.0 1.6% 1.5 0.0 0 1 0 0
Kalani Vakameilalo NT 6'3, 314 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8610 10 8.5 1.1% 3.0 2.0 0 1 0 0
Noke Tago NT 6'4, 299 Sr. NR NR
LaMone Williams DE 6'3, 281 So. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8298
Elu Aydon DT 6'3, 324 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8417
Chris Mengis DT 6'0, 283 RSFr. NR NR
Andrew Iademarco DE 6'3, 283 RSFr. NR NR
Phillip Napoleon DE 6'4, 285 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8522
David Fangupo DT 6'2, 325 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8463
Paisa Savea DT 6'4, 290 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8059
Isaac Garcia DE 6'4, 225 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8787








Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Rommel Mageo ILB
12 67.0 8.9% 2.0 2.0 2 1 2 0
Jonathan Willis OLB 6'1, 228 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8019 12 53.5 7.1% 3.5 2.0 0 0 1 0
Caleb Saulo ILB 6'1, 236 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8152 11 50.0 6.7% 0.5 0.0 1 0 1 0
Manase Hungalu ILB 6'1, 237 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.7556 11 33.0 4.4% 2.5 0.0 1 0 0 0
Jaswha James OLB 12 31.5 4.2% 2.5 1.0 0 1 1 0
Ricky Ortiz ILB
11 23.0 3.1% 3.5 2.0 1 0 0 0
Titus Failauga OLB 6'3, 248 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8017 12 22.0 2.9% 3.0 1.0 0 0 1 0
Kyle Haley ILB 6'0, 226 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8100 11 17.0 2.3% 1.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Adam Soesman OLB 6'1, 215 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8475 12 17.0 2.3% 2.0 0.0 0 1 1 0
Bright Ugwoegbu OLB 6'2, 226 So. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8104 9 14.0 1.9% 2.0 1.0 0 0 0 0
Ricky Liuchan ILB 6'1, 232 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8266
Wesley Payne ILB 5'11, 210 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8074
Hamilcar Rashed OLB 6'4, 225 Fr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8543
Doug Taumoelau OLB 6'2, 215 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8423
Andrzej Hughes-Murray ILB 6'3, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8391
Shemar Smith OLB 6'1, 200 Fr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8074








7. Desperately seeking havoc

Clune's USU defense featured four players in the front seven with at least 11.5 tackles for loss and six with at least three sacks. In 2015, Oregon State had zero of either. That's astounding. And the only two players with more than 3.5 TFLs are both gone.

Sitake loves to attack but just didn't have the horses; unless the aforementioned JUCOs are all great, that probably isn't going to change considerably this fall. But to the extent that there is hope, it comes from the sophomore class. In limited action, tackle Kalani Vakameilalo had three tackles for loss and two sacks (among just 8.5 tackles), OLB Jonathan Willis had 3.5, and fellow OLBs Adam Soesman and Bright Ugwoegbu had two each. If they all undergo solid first-to-second-year development, and a couple of JUCOs make some noise, maybe you've got something.

The good news is that it almost literally can't get worse for OSU from a havoc perspective -- while Clune's USU defense had a decent havoc rate of 16.3 percent (52nd in FBS), Oregon State was dead last at 10.3 percent. Without play-makers, you can only succeed if you never miss a tackle and your opponent gives you some mistakes. There aren't a ton of offensive mistakes in the Pac-12.

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Rivals 247 Comp. GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Justin Strong FS
8 44.5 5.9% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Treston Decoud CB 6'3, 210 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.8152 10 40.5 5.4% 3.5 1 0 5 0 0
Cyril Noland-Lewis NB 6'1, 204 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8453 12 34.5 4.6% 1 0.5 1 1 0 0
Kendall Hill CB 6'2, 204 Sr. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7973 11 33.0 4.4% 2 0 0 1 0 0
Devin Chappell SS 6'2, 204 Sr. NR NR 11 32.0 4.3% 3 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Arnold SS 5'11, 202 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 0.8528 11 30.5 4.1% 0.5 0 1 0 0 0
Gabe Ovgard FS 5'11, 200 So. NR NR 12 17.0 2.3% 1.5 0 1 0 0 0
Dwayne Williams CB 5'9, 180 So. 2 stars (5.3) 0.7752 11 16.0 2.1% 2.5 0 0 2 0 0
Larry Scott CB 7 15.5 2.1% 2 0 0 3 0 0
Charles Okonkwo CB 6'1, 188 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 0.8560 9 8.0 1.1% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Shawn Wilson CB 5'9, 187 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8498
Jay Irvine NB 6'1, 200 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8389
Xavier Crawford CB 6'1, 190 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8295
Omar Hicks-Onu S 6'1, 196 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) 0.8010
Jalen Moore S 6'0, 212 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4) NR
Landry Payne S 6'1, 205 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 0.8133








Christian Wallace CB 6'3, 205 Fr. 4 stars (5.9) 0.9036

8. Good cornerbacks, at least

Corner Treston Decoud made more havoc plays (TFLs, passes defensed, forced fumbles) than anyone on the Oregon State defense, with a decent but far from amazing 8.5. And in limited action, sophomore Dwayne Williams had 4.5. Williams finished the spring atop the depth chart opposite Decoud. If either gets hurt, OSU might not have a replacement in order, but they could be an excellent duo.

So there's one potential strength, at least. Safety play is still an issue. But there will be a pretty interesting competition between seasoned seniors (Cyril Noland-Lewis, Devin Chappell, Brandon Arnold, converted corner Kendall Hill) and interesting youngsters (redshirt freshmen Jay Irvine, Jalen Moore, and Omar Hicks-Onu).

On third-and-10 or more, opponents managed to complete 18 of 27 passes for 286 yards and only one interception last year. That is horrific, and having a bad pass rush only accounts for part of the problem. Aggressive corners occasionally got burned, and the safeties just couldn't get to where they needed to be.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Nick Porebski 5'10, 198 Jr. 72 41.1 1 34 26 83.3%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Garrett Owens 5'9, 181 Jr. 46 56.0 7 1 15.2%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2016
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Garrett Owens 5'9, 181 Jr. 23-23 6-7 85.7% 5-8 62.5%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2016
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Victor Bolden KR 5'9, 181 Sr. 23 25.2 1
Rahmel Dockery KR 5'10, 184 Sr. 13 19.0 0
Rahmel Dockery PR 5'10, 184 Sr. 10 6.8 0
Category Rk
Special Teams S&P+ 66
Field Goal Efficiency 46
Punt Return Success Rate 124
Kick Return Success Rate 101
Punt Success Rate 27
Kickoff Success Rate 125

9. Having a good punter was a very good thing (unfortunately)

Nick Porebski had no choice but to punt balls as high as possible. If a guy got a return off, it was probably going a long way. The Beavers allowed 10.4 yards per punt return (93rd in FBS), and while they allowed just 21.5 yards per kick return (68th), it was accompanied by almost no touchbacks. Opponents were out past the 25 on nearly every (rare) kickoff.

Combine that with getting almost nothing out of the return game, and you've got the makings of an awful special teams unit. But while returns and coverage might not improve, the Beavers at least have Porebski for another two years. His 41.1-yard average wasn't amazing, but nearly half of his punts were fair caught, and only 16 of his 72 punts were returned. That is an underrated strength a... and in OSU's case, a necessary one.

2016 Schedule & Projection Factors

2016 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. S&P+ Rk Proj. Margin Win Probability
1-Sep at Minnesota 42 -13.4 22%
17-Sep Idaho State NR 30.4 96%
24-Sep Boise State 36 -7.7 33%
1-Oct at Colorado 82 -4.1 41%
8-Oct California 49 -4.2 40%
15-Oct Utah 39 -7.1 34%
22-Oct at Washington 10 -23.3 9%
29-Oct Washington State 48 -4.3 40%
5-Nov at Stanford 16 -21.7 10%
12-Nov at UCLA 12 -22.8 9%
19-Nov Arizona 64 -2.0 45%
26-Nov Oregon 18 -14.4 20%
Projected wins: 4.0
Five-Year F/+ Rk -1.3% (65)
2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk 52 / 54
2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin* -4 / -4.2
2015 TO Luck/Game +0.1
Returning Production (Off. / Def.) 75% (72%, 78%)
2015 Second-order wins (difference) 2.2 (-0.2)

10. Now the building begins

Oregon State's end-of-spring depth chart featured still featured all sorts of youth -- 13 positions were listed, and 12 of 26 first- or second-stringers were freshmen or sophomores. On defense, it was 15 of 26. That's the type of youth you expect to inherit in your first year of a rebuild; Andersen is in his second.

Andersen needed two full years to get rolling at USU. In 2009-10, his Aggies went 4-8 twice before taking two steps forward in year three and two more in year four. He's probably going to need at least one more year to get his chessboard arranged in Corvallis.

Depending on how his team maneuvers in close games, however, improvement in the win total is still possible. S&P+ projections only give OSU one sure win (Idaho State) but gives the Beavers between a 33 and 45 percent chance in six other games. Win two of those six, as odds suggest, and you've improved on 2-10. It's a peripheral improvement at best, but it's something, and then the actual improvement can begin in 2017.