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2011 Oregon State Preview - Offense
Oregon State WR James Rodgers
Oregon State WR James Rodgers
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 17, 2011


CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Oregon State Beaver Offense


Oregon State Beavers

Preview 2011 - Offense


- 2011 Oregon State Preview | 2011 Oregon State Offense
- 2011 Oregon State Defense | 2011 Oregon State Depth Chart

What you need to know: One of the Rodgers brothers is gone. Another is back. Maybe. RB Jacquizz Rodgers left early for the NFL after his junior year, leaving a gaping hole in the backfield that’ll be difficult to fill this fall. Older brother James, however, received a medical hardship after blowing out his knee last October. The problem is that the do-everything receiver has been slow to heal, raising concerns about his availability this fall. Second-year starting QB Ryan Katz is keeping his fingers crossed. The strong-armed junior loves WR Markus Wheaton and H-back Joe Halahuni, but adding Rodgers into the mix could give Oregon State an unstoppable collection of playmakers. The backfield is a different story, where the program is banking on the likes of Ryan McCants, an underachieving senior. Whoever gets the carries will need more support from a line that was a disappointment in 2010..

Returning Leaders
Passing: Ryan Katz
213-355, 2,401 yds, 18 TDs, 11 INTs
Rushing: Markus Wheaton
27 carries, 220 yds, 2 TDs
Receiving: Markus Wheaton
55 catches, 675 yds, 4 TDs

Star of the offense: Junior RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Player who has to step up and become a star: Sophomore QB Ryan Katz
Unsung star on the rise: Junior H-back Joe Halahuni
Best pro prospect: Rodgers
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Rodgers, 2) Senior WR James Rodgers, 3) Senior C Alex Linnenkohl
Strength of the offense: The Rodgers brothers, playmaking receivers, running game, protecting the ball, third down conversions
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience at quarterback, pass protection

Quarterbacks

State of the Unit: Unlike a year ago when the Beavers were breaking in a replacement for Sean Canfield, the program has far more stability behind center heading into 2011. Gone is the inexperience and uncertainty, replaced by a returning starter and a pair of letterwinners. The hope is that those familiar faces can help turn around a passing game that ranked seventh in the Pac-10 in passing offense and passing efficiency.

Junior Ryan Katz is back for a return engagement as the starting quarterback. He had some ups and downs in his debut, including three games in which he threw three picks. The 6-1, 205-pounder’s final tally read 212-of-354 for 2,386 yards, 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions to go along with a couple of rushing touchdowns. Despite the modest size, he has one of the strongest arms in the league and moves well in and out of the pocket. Expected to be all the way from a wrist injury suffered late last year, he’s looking to take on more of a leadership role this fall.

Sophomore Cody Vaz is eyeing the No. 2 spot for a second straight season in Corvallis. He earned a letter in 2010, appearing in five games and going 6-of-17 for 48 yards. While he lacks ideal size at 6-0 and 200 pounds, he possesses the quick release and poise to deliver if called from the bench. Also in the picture behind Vaz are 6-2, 175-pound sophomore Jack Lomax , son of former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, and 6-5, 204-pound redshirt freshman Sean Mannion .

Watch Out For .... Katz to begin evolving in his second season on the job. There’s a track record of quarterbacks getting on the tarmac in Year 2 under Mike Riley, including Derek Anderson, Matt Moore, and Lyle Moevao. Katz has all the tools to go ahead and keep that trend going in 2011.
Strength: Arms. Don’t be fooled by the modest size of Katz or Vaz for that matter. They can zip it around the field with the best of them. Katz, in particular, is accurate on the deep routes and doesn’t leave himself vulnerable to defensive backs on throws from one hash to the next. He can get maximum RPMs on his throws, fitting the ball into tight windows.
Weakness: Mistakes. Above all else, Katz needs to cut down on his picks and stop forcing the ball into traffic. He was generally alright last year, but when the inconsistency seeped into his game, it really wound up costing the offense. In those games that he threw three interceptions, the Beavers were a predictable 0-3.
Outlook: Oregon State is expecting a sharp improvement in its passing game this season. Not only is Katz the kind of quarterback an offense can build around, but all of the young backups are now a year older. The junior is about to come into his own under center, using his mighty arm and year of experience to vie for All-Pac-12 honors.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

State of the Unit: No unit has generated more offseason concern than this one. The domain of Jacquizz Rodgers for the last three seasons, he opted to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the draft. And with no sure-fire apprentice waiting in the wings, the staff will spend the offseason searching for an every-down back and trying to develop a pecking order. Corvallis has become a breeding ground for underrated backs, producing a 1,000-yarder every season since 2005, so anything less than that will be foreign to this program.

In all likelihood, the Beavers are going to audition three backs for the right to replace Rodgers. Senior Ryan McCants is the veteran and the most physical of the backs. At 6-1 and 228 pounds, he’s a north-south runner, who can move a pile between the tackles. Considered the future at one time, he’s been non-existent since 2008 and has one more chance to approach expectations.

At 5-11 and 183 pounds, sophomore Jovan Stevenson is a very different type of a runner. He has terrific speed, and the quickness and soft hands to be dangerous in space. Back after missing 2010 with a shoulder injury—and stronger than ever—he’s ready to mount a challenge to be more than a third down option.

Junior Jordan Jenkins has suffered a setback in his quest to climb the depth chart, tearing his labrum, an injury that’ll require an extensive rehab. The 6-1, 211-pounder has had shoulder problems in the past, and any lost time will make him vulnerable to the eager rookies behind him on the depth chart.

Watch Out For .... McCants. Physically, he has what it takes to be successful in this league. He’s big, tough, and quicker to the hole than many would expect. If he can fine-tune his game by running a little lower, gripping the ball, and picking up blitzes, he’s capable of reversing the last two seasons of inactivity.
Strength: Diversity. The staff has access to a little bit of everything with this collection of backs. McCants bring the power. Stevenson is a jitterbug. And the blend of upperclassmen and young legs assures that a high level of competition will keep everyone playing to the whistle while the depth chart is fleshed out.
Weakness: No sure-things. Who is the feature back? Although every program has question marks coming out of spring, there are degrees of uncertainty on all campuses. At Oregon State, there’s genuine concern whether or not one of these backs is capable of carrying the ball 20-25 times a game and maintaining the school’s high standard at the position.
Outlook: Rodgers spoiled Oregon State over the last three seasons with his running and playmaking ability. He’ll be missed. However, the Beavers have had a habit of taking overlooked recruits and transforming them into 1,000-yard runners. The next big thing could be on the roster, just waiting for his opportunity. Who that is, however, might not be determined until September.
Rating: 7

Receivers

State of the Unit: The left knee of senior flanker James Rodgers --no body part in Corvallis is going to receive more scrutiny between now and the Sept. 3 visit from Sacramento State. One of the top all-around players in school history, he was granted an additional year of eligibility following a season-ending knee injury last October. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he’s required two surgeries and has been slow to recover. When healthy, the 5-7, 185-pounder is the definition of an all-purpose playmaker, racking up 5,784 total yards and 27 touchdowns during his career. The Beavers are just fine at receiver. However, if Rodgers can recapture his pre-injury form, they become fantastic.

After Rodgers was lost, 6-0, 181-pound junior Markus Wheaton took over as the Beavers’ most productive receiver. From split end, he evolved into a borderline all-star, catching 54 passes for 660 yards and four touchdowns, adding 235 yards and two scores on sweeps. He has sprinter speed and has gradually fine-tuned his overall game, a troubling combination for opposing defensive backs and coordinators.

Senior H-back Joe Halahuni has been so good the last couple of years that’s it’s basically phased out the tight end in the offense. With the soft hands of a wide receiver and the raw power of a 6-2, 252-pound fullback, he’s a unique target for the quarterbacks. Showing improbable agility and a flair for the acrobatic, he’s especially dangerous near the end zone, catching 30 passes for 390 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. However, his numbers are going to suffer if he misses any time following shoulder surgery in early May.

In the slot, the Beavers are likely to turn to 6-3, 199-pound junior Jordan Bishop , who has starting experience on his resume. An All-American high jumper on the track team, he has the size, speed, and bounce to be a matchup nightmare. After catching 22 passes for 353 yards and two scores, he could be poised for a breakout year.

If Rodgers isn’t 100%, 5-11, 164-pound senior Darrell Catchings becomes a terrific insurance policy at split end. A veteran of 11 starts, he’s been hampered by injuries, but has the savvy and fundamentals to fill an important role in this group. When Oregon State opts to use a traditional tight end, 6-3, 265-pound junior Colby Prince is the kind of in-line blocker needed to get a hat on a defender and open holes for the running game.

Watch Out For .... Bishop to begin assuming a bigger role in the passing game. He’s just too athletic to not be employed a little more this fall. Plus, with the outside receivers commanding so much attention, he’s capable of abusing opposing linebackers running routes from the slot.
Strength: Breadth of talent. Of course, a lot will depend on Rodgers’ knee, but the Beavers are quietly happy about their options in the passing game. Wheaton is a major threat on the outside, Bishop is an up-and-comer on the inside, and Halahuni is one of the country’s top H-backs and a future pro.
Weakness: Durability. Rodgers is returning from major surgery. Bishop has been banged up. And Catchings has missed time in the past. Oregon State is made up of mostly undersized receivers, who are prone to getting bullied and sent to the trainer’s table.
Outlook: If Rodgers is Rodgers, the Beavers will boast one of the Pac-12’s most diverse sets of receivers. If not, it’s still a unit that will challenge defenses vertically and horizontally. There’s plenty of athleticism within the group, which QB Ryan Katz plans to employ as frequently as possible.
Rating: 7.5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: While four starters are back on the offensive line, changes are happening up front at Oregon State. The staff was disappointed with last year’s results, as the Beavers struggled to meet expectations. Assistant Mike Cavanaugh is moving the chess pieces around the board during the offseason, seeking the right combination to unlock the potential of the rest of the offense.

As the team’s best pass protector, 6-4, 305-pound senior Mike Remmers is moving from right tackle to left tackle in order to protect the quarterback’s blindside. A walk-on until just before the 2009 season, he’s started more games than any other Beaver, including 25 straight. He’s come a long way during that time, improving in all areas, becoming a line leader, and earning all-Pac-10 honorable mention.

Going from left tackle to the right side is 6-3, 307-pound junior Michael Philipp , a disappointment last season. A Freshman All-American and top recruit from 2009, he was a bit of a disappointment last year, needing to get healthy and recapture some of his swagger and nastiness. Senior Grant Johnson is moving from left guard to center, tasked with the unenviable job of replacing all-star Alex Linnenkohl. A non-scholarship player when he arrived, he’s played the pivot in the past and has the quickness and feet to make the move work.

The new favorite at left guard is 6-2, 278-pound sophomore Josh Andrews. He lettered as a backup center in 2010, and could return to the position in 2012, but first needs to get his shotgun snap back to the quarterback faster. Senior RG Burke Ellis? Well, he’s one of the few Beavers staying put. The 6-4, 285-pounder started all 12 games last season, becoming yet another hard-working walk-on to hustle his way into the lineup.

Senior Michael Lamb , junior Colin Kelly , and sophomore Geoff Garner are returning letterwinners. Lamb is slated to backup Ellis at right guard. Kelly is a versatile, 6-4, 290-pound blocker working behind Philipp at tackles. And the 6-5, 301-pound Garner is a mature, heady tackle looking to supplant Remmers in 2012.

Watch Out For .... the chemistry. It’s one of the underrated aspects of the sport, but the chemistry of the line goes a long toward the offense’s success—or failure. The Beavers will spend the offseason with coach Mike Cavanaugh trying to get accustomed to new sides of the line and new partners to their left or right.
Strength: Pass protection. Oregon State was 24th nationally in sacks allowed a year ago, a ranking that could improve now that Remmers is on the left side and the quarterbacks have more confidence. This is a group that’s generally in terrific shape and a little more athletic than the average fortress.
Weakness: Physicality. Cavanaugh was not happy with the line’s demeanor last year, feeling it lacked the right demeanor and nastiness. Too often, the Beavers got pushed backwards, keeping Quizz Rodgers from maximizing his potential.
Outlook: Blue-collar. While the Beavers deserve a ton of credit for coaching up linemen, many of those blockers began their careers without a scholarship. They’ll work hard and play to the whistle, but Philipp aside, there isn’t much pedigree within the unit. The objectives are simple this season—find more swagger and develop the kind of attitude that equates to bigger holes for the backs.
Rating: 6.5

- 2011 Oregon State Preview | 2011 Oregon State Offense
- 2011 Oregon State Defense | 2011 Oregon State Depth Chart