2007 Oregon State Preview - Offense

Posted Jul 27, 2007

Preview 2007 Oregon State Beaver Offense

Oregon State Beavers

Preview 2007 - Offense

- 2007 Oregon State Preview | 2007 OSU Defense Preview
2007 OSU Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Oregon State Preview 

What you need to know: While the Beavers regularly skip using a fullback in favor of a third receiver, they’re a balanced offense that’ll run it as much as they throw.  When you’ve got a back as talented as senior Yvenson Bernard, that’s called using your resources wisely.  Bernard has run for more than 1,300 yards in each of the last two seasons behind a nasty, no-nonsense line that welcomes back all but one starter.  Senior split end Sammie Stroughter is an open field dynamo coming off a monster season in 2006.  What he can do for an encore depends in large part on how well one of two sophomore quarterbacks adapts to a full-time gig.  Hard-throwing lefty Sean Canfield is the acknowledged favorite to supplant Matt Moore, but Lyle Moevao sent a message this spring that he won’t go away quietly.                         

Returning Leaders
Passing: Sean Canfield
28-45, 335 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard
296 carries, 1,307 yds, 12 TD
Receiving: Sammie Stroughter
74 catches, 1,293 yds, 5 TD

Star of the offense: Senior RB Yvenson Bernard
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior LT Tavita Thompson
Unsung star on the rise: Junior RT Andy Levitre
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Sammie Stroughter
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Bernard  2) OG Jeremy Perry  3) Stroughter
Strength of the offense: The running backs, run blocking
Weakness of the offense: Inexperience at quarterback, pass protection


Projected Starter: Entering the spring, the job of replacing Matt Moore was clearly sophomore Sean Canfield’s to lose.  He didn’t do that in April, leaving the door open for feisty sophomore Lyle Moevao to remain a nuisance and keep the heat on throughout the summer.  Canfield has been groomed for this spot since signing with the program in 2005.  A rocket-armed, 6-4 and 225-pound hurler, he’s a left-handed version of former Beaver chucker Derek Anderson with a few more moves when the pocket narrows.  Canfield knows the system better, throws a soft deep ball and has a sizable edge physically, but until he builds separation, the coronation in Corvallis won’t be official. 

Projected Top Reserves
: A transfer from El Camino (Calif.) College, Moevao is the fly in the ointment at Oregon State these days. At 5-11 and 225 pounds, he hardly fits the part of a Pac-10 quarterback, but he doesn’t plan on going away or genuflecting to the heavy favorite Canfield.  Moevao has a cannon and is the Beavers’ best scrambler, but has remained competitive with his myriad intangibles, namely a competitive fire and magnetic personality. 

Providing insurance for the two underclassmen will be 6-5, 230-pound senior  Ryan Gunderson, a veteran of ten games, three letters and one start.  While he’s no threat to Canfield or Moevao, it never hurts having an experienced quarterback on the bench in case disaster strikes.        

Watch Out For… Canfield to win the job in August, but Moevao to be used as an occasional sparkplug during the season.  While Canfield is the future at quarterback in Corvallis, Moevao brings certain unique qualities that’ll offer a change-of-pace for opposing defenses.      
Strength: Big arms.  From Canfield to Gunderson, Oregon State has three strong-armed quarterbacks that’ll have no problem reaching Sammie Stroughter when he’s running post patterns this fall.                            
Weakness: Experience.  Gunderson is the only Beaver quarterback to start a game at this level, and he’s on the outside looking in on the quarterback derby.  Canfield is going to be a player for the Beavers, but year one in the saddle will have its share of bumpy moments.            
Outlook: With eight starters and some terrific skill position players returning on offense, neither Canfield nor Moevao will be asked to do too much this season.  The mandate from the coaching staff will be simple: get the ball in the hands of Stroughter and Yvenson Bernard, and limit the rookie mistakes.         
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: From a lightly-recruited back out of Boca Raton to the soul of the Oregon State offense, senior Yvenson Bernard has authored a memorable story in Corvallis.  Considered undersized by some at 5-9 and 204 pounds, he’s been a durable workhorse the last two years, rushing for more than 1,300 yards in each season, catching 80 passes and scoring 27 touchdowns.  Quicker than he is fast, Bernard is a cutback runner that darts in and out of holes, and isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder to get a few extra yards.  Now a fixture on the All-Pac-10 team, he’ll get close to 300 touches running behind one of the league’s best lines, while pocketing more national recognition along the way.                            

When the offense uses a fullback, it’ll summons sophomore Micah Strickland from the sidelines.  A 6-0, 230-pound bruiser, he has the decent hands to occasionally double as an H-Back as well.

Projected Top Reserves: When Bernard needs a blow this fall, the staff will turn to senior Clinton Polk, who had 63 carries for 248 yards and a score in an injury-plagued debut after transferring from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Junior College.  The program’s biggest back at 6-2 and 214 pounds and an ideal complement to the shifty starter, he delivered 100 yards in the upset of USC when Bernard was physically unable to go. 

Junior Patrick Fuller had his sights set on Polk’s backup job this spring, but fell short and fight to remain No. 3 on the depth chart.  More of a between-the-tackles at 5-11 and 205 pounds, he gives Mike Riley an option on short yardage. 

Watch Out For… Polk to double last year’s 63 carries.  No doubt Bernard is the franchise, but Riley would like to keep him fresh throughout the year, and a healthy Polk can do just that with 8-10 carries a game.                                          
Strength: Bernard.  Although he’ll never get the notoriety of a Darren McFadden or Steve Slaton, the Beaver offense would have been lost without Bernard the last two years.  He’s unselfish, and does everything well, including blocking.             
Weakness: Depth beyond Polk.  Bernard and Polk both suffered ankle injuries in 2006.  If that were to happen at the same time in 2007, the drop-off to the No. 3 back would be substantial enough to grind the Beaver offense to a halt.         
Outlook: No one could have guessed it two years ago, but Bernard is about to join Steven Jackson and Ken Simonton as one of the all-time great backs in school history.  While he’ll shoulder the load and pile up the yards again in 2007, he’ll also get a little more help than usual from Polk.
: 9


Projected Starters: In dire need of a successor to all-timer Mike Hass, senior split end Sammie Stroughter filled the void with a sensational breakout year in 2006, leading the Beavers with 74 catches for 1,293 yards and five scores.  More than just your garden variety deep threat, the 6-0, 183-pounder is a complete receiver that runs great routes, catches everything, and is dynamic in space.  In other words, he’ll be new quarterback Sean Canfield’s best friend this fall. 

In the slot for the second straight year will be senior Brandon Powers, a physical, 6-2 and 215-pound pass-catcher that doubles as the group’s best blocker.  In his first season as a starter, he caught 39 passes for 433 yards and a score, flashing above average speed for a possession receiver. 

Like Powers, senior flanker Anthony Brown, formerly Wheat-Brown, is an outstanding athlete that can out muscle most opposing defensive backs with his superior strength.  The most experienced Beaver receiver, he’s started 29 games and caught 94 career passes to go along with three touchdown receptions in each of the last three years.    

The question of who’ll be replacing star tight end Joe Newton remains very much up in the air heading into summer drills.  No fewer than four underclassmen, sophomores Howard Croom and John Reese and redshirt freshmen Gabe Miller and Brady Camp, are vying for the job.  At 6-3 and 241 pounds, Croom is the most complete tight end and the favorite to be in the lineup when Utah visits Aug. 30.  Reese can stretch a defense, but needs to get in the weight to avoid being a liability as a blocker.  Although Camp was an afterthought before April, he parlayed a terrific spring into contention for this critical opening on the offense.  

Projected Top Reserves: If the spring is any barometer, redshirt freshman Kyle Brown looks ready to ignite the Beaver B team.  A potentially tough match up at 6-4 and 212 pounds, he’s showed off improved hands and a knack for making the acrobatic play in the off-season.  If he keeps working on his game, Brown looks like a 20-catch guy this fall before becoming Canfield’s favorite target in 2008. 

Junior Shane Morales doesn’t possess scary size or speed, but all he does is catch everything that’s thrown in his vicinity.  A smaller version of Powers, he’ll be the No. 2 man in the slot this season. 

Junior split end Chris Johnson earned his first letter last season, catching four passes and contributing as a special teams player.  He’s a fluid, 6-1 and 180 athlete that shares some of Stroughter’s abilities to make people miss and snap off long gainers with his speed.   

Watch Out For… Brown.  The offense is in need of another complementary playmaker to take some heat off Stroughter, and Brown fits the description.  Once he improves at getting separation, his leaping ability will make him a natural near the end zone               
Strength: Senior leadership.  The quarterback will be just a sophomore, but his three primary receivers are all seniors that have played plenty of football in Corvallis.  Stroughter leads by example, Powers has a lunch pail work ethic and Brown seems to have matured since getting suspended at the end of last season.                           
Weakness: Tight end.  Joe Newton’s ability to find the soft spot in a defense and make clutch grabs will be sorely missed.  The fact that four tight ends are still in the hunt to replace him is an ominous sign that no one has stood out enough to secure the job.                          
Outlook: Provided Canfield can get him the ball, Stroughter has the determination to do even bigger things in his second year as the starter.  He’ll get plenty of pass-catching support and downfield blocking from Powers and Brown, who know and accept their roles within the offense.
Rating: 8

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Oregon State was the only program in the Pac-10 to place all five of its offensive linemen on last year’s all-conference team.  Four of those starters are back for another year, giving the Beavers one of the most underrated front walls in America.  The anchor in the middle is senior center Kyle DeVan, a 6-2, 294-pound third-year starter that’s been in the lineup for 25 games-in-a-row.  One of the group emotional leaders, he’s quick off the snap and one of the line’s most athletic players.

With junior Jeremy Perry on the left side and senior Roy Schuening on the right, the program is home to one of the top guard tandems in the country.  In a finesse league, Perry is an old-fashioned mauler that’ll dominate his man until the whistle blows.  A nasty, tenacious blocker that earned All-Pac-10 First Team honors in 2006, he’s especially effective when the Beavers keep the ball on the ground. 

Schuening has been a mainstay inside since his freshman year, starting 37 straight consecutive games.  Like Perry, he’s got the strength and size to manhandle opposing linemen on running plays, and is nearly as skilled as a pass protector.    

If there’s a question mark on the offensive line, it’s at tackle where juniors Andy Levitre and Tavita Thompson are expected to hold down the right and left side, respectively.  Levitre took over for an injured Josh Linehan early last season, and filled in well enough to earn honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors in 2006.  He’s a 6-3, 325-pound mauler that’s shown the versatility and footwork to play at guard as well. 

Thompson is the great unknown of the unit.  While he has considerable upside and imposing size, he’s yet to assert himself or show that he can max out all of his potential.  He shed some of his baby fat in the off-season, an indication he might be ready to take this opportunity seriously.         

Projected Top Reserves: If Thompson regresses, the Beavers might turn to redshirt freshman Michael Cole at left tackle.  A 6-7, 290-pound transfer from Foothills (Calif.) College, he has a long wingspan and the athletic ability to challenge for instant playing time.  The No. 2 guards will be junior Adam Speer and sophomore Gregg Peat, both of whom earned letters as backups in 2006.  Speer will become this year’s Levitre, the line’s top reserve and a player that can plug more than one hole.  Peat is a 6-3, 300-pound work-in-progress that’s studying to be Schuening’s replacement in 2008.  

Watch Out For… the Beavers to win the battle in the trenches in all but the Nov.3 trip to the Coliseum.  The line is big, savvy and physical enough to overwhelm everyone not named USC in 2007.                          
Strength: Run blocking.  The Beavers are a meat-and-potatoes crew that’s at its best when it lines up and simply jams the ball down the throat of opposing defenses.  Yvenson Bernard is a quality back, but he wouldn’t be as effective running behind an ordinary line.               
Weakness: Consistency, especially in pass protection.  Despite all the talent, the line allowed too many sacks, and had meltdowns against Boise State, Cal, USC and UCLA that must be avoided in order to be considered a top-tier unit.    
Outlook: The talent and experience is in place for Oregon State to be one of the Pac-10’s most dominant offensive lines.  Now they’ve got to go out and prove it against the league’s blue bloods later this year.
Rating: 8.5


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