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2008 Oregon State Preview - Offense
Oregon State OT Andy Levitre
Oregon State OT Andy Levitre
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 9, 2008


CollegeFootballNews.com 2008 Preview - Oregon State Beaver Offense

Oregon State Beavers

Preview 2008 - Offense


- 2008 Oregon State Preview | 2008 OSU Offense
- 2008 OSU Defense | 2008 OSU Depth Chart
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2007 CFN Oregon State Preview | 2006 CFN Oregon State Preview 

What you need to know: Is there a viable option at quarterback to run the offense? Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao were bad and worse, respectively, in 2007, combining for 11 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. Canfield is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, and is expected to begin throwing again in July. Through the years, however, the Beaver offense has been paced by the running game, putting pressure on Ryan McCants to become the third freshman to rush for 1,000 yards under Riley. He’s good enough to deliver the feat. The team breathed a sigh of relief when a fifth year of eligibility was granted to WR Sammie Stroughter, a player who’ll give a jolt to the passing game and special teams unit. 

Returning Leaders
Passing: Sean Canfield
165-286, 1,661 yds, 9 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: James Rodgers
50 carries, 344 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Darrell Catchings
33 catches, 386 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Senior WR Sammie Stroughter
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman RT Wilder McAndrews or Mike Remmers
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Ryan McCants 
Best pro prospect: Senior LT Andy Levitre
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Levitre  2) Stroughter  3) Senior LG Jeremy Perry
Strength of the offense: The receivers, the left side of the line
Weakness of the offense: Inconsistency at quarterback, right tackle

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Over the last four decades, Oregon State has had just three quarterbacks drafted by the NFL. The trend is unlikely to change this season. Juniors Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao are set to resume a skirmish for the starting job that began a year ago and produced awful results. Moevao exited the spring on top of the depth chart by default, getting all of the reps as Canfield rehabbed offseason surgery on his throwing shoulder. A 5-11, 235-pound former junior college star, he has good zip on his passes and active feet, but needs to get a lot more consistent and accurate with his throws. Moevao started the final three games after Canfield was injured, finishing the year 77-of-147 for 876 yards, two touchdowns and six interceptions.

Canfield started the first nine games and played in the Emerald Bowl, but was only slightly better than Moevao. The more prototypical pocket passer at 6-4 and 229 pounds, he struggled badly in his first season on the job, managing to go 165-of-286 for 1,661 yards, nine touchdowns, and a Pac-10-high 15 picks. Remove a three-touchdown effort versus Idaho State, and the numbers look even worse. Canfield has limited mobility and shares some of the responsibility for the Beavers’ 102nd ranking in sacks allowed.  Missing the spring and going under the knife have stifled his development, allowing Moevao to narrow the gap.           

Projected Top Reserves: True freshman Ryan Katz has already taken part in his first spring drills, making his first pitch to become the quarterback of the future at Oregon State. An ideal candidate to redshirt and learn as much as possible behind the veterans, the 6-2, 194-pounder showed off good arm strength and an upperclassmen’s comfort level in the Beaver offense.

Watch Out For… head coach Mike Riley to take the entire summer to decide on his starting quarterback.  There’s almost no daylight between the two competitors, especially since Moevao made strides in April, while Canfield was on the shelf with an injury to his throwing shoulder.
Strength: Arm strength. From Moevao to Katz, the Beavers have a stable of big-armed quarterbacks who’ll have no problem reaching Sammie Stroughter and Darrell Catchings when they’re running post patterns.
Weakness: A quality starter. Both quarterbacks had their chances to shine last season and failed to deliver consistent results. The Beavers were 114th nationally in pass efficiency, and until proven otherwise, will have one of the flakiest quarterback situations in the Pac-10, outside of UCLA.
Outlook: With a season of experience now behind them, Canfield and Moevao should both be more prepared to make plays and distribute the ball to the Oregon State playmakers. They had better be, especially since workhorse back Yvenson Bernard is no longer in Corvallis. Above all else, the quarterbacks have to do a much better job of protecting the ball and keeping it out of the hands of the other team.
Rating: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Although you don’t get better by losing a player like Yvenson Bernard, the Beavers are confident they’re about to unwrap the next big thing at running back. Redshirt freshman Ryan McCants has yet to take a handoff for Oregon State, but the program already has suspicions he’s going to be something special. At 6-1 and 236 pounds, he’s tough between the tackles and quick enough to get around tackle and into the opposing secondary. As a Beaver frame of reference, think Steven Jackson. While McCants has to keep working on his pass catching and blocking skills, he has the raw tools to give the program another in a long line of 1,000-yard rushers.         

Projected Top Reserves: Junior Jeremy Francis was brought in from El Camino (Calif.) College to provide instant offense and an immediate challenge to McCants. Before suffering an injury that won’t keep him out of summer drills, he was impressing the coaching staff and integrating well into the Beaver offense. A 5-11, 217-pound thumper, Francis is a smooth runner with the potential to be the program’s best receiver out of the backfield.

The veteran of the unit is 5-11, 205-pound Patrick Fuller, a senior and career backup who has persevered to earn three letters. No threat to the top spot, the gunner on special teams brings veteran leadership, but very few career carries to the backfield.     

Watch Out For… incoming freshman Jacquizz Rodgers. One of the nation’s top recruits at the position, he’s not expected to redshirt this season. Only 5-8 and 165 pounds, Rodgers isn’t very big, but he can run through arm tackles and fight for extra yardage.

Strength: Power runners. With McCants pointing the way and Francis following his lead, Oregon State has multiple backs who can punish opposing defenders and move the pile in short yardage situations. Even Fuller is north of 200 pounds with good leg drive.
Weakness: No sure thing. Fuller is the only Beaver who’s logged minutes in Corvallis, and he’s buried at No. 3 on the depth chart. McCants looks like a real deal, but until he actually performs under pressure in a Pac-10 game, it’s all speculation.
Outlook: While Bernard will be missed, the Beavers are excited about the beginning of the McCants era. Based on first impressions, the positive buzz is warranted. McCants will get plenty of opportunities to become the focal point of the offense, making him an early candidate for Freshman All-American honors.
Rating: 7.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: The biggest news in the offseason was the return of 6-0, 188-pound senior Sammie Stroughter, who was granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA. The Beavers’ split end and most dangerous offensive weapon is back on track after suffering through a season of personal tragedy and a bruised kidney that limited him to 15 catches for 262 yards and two touchdowns in three games. The real Stroughter was on display a year earlier, carving up Pac-10 defenses for 74 receptions for 1,293 yards and five scores. Physically and emotionally, his return will give a swift boost to the Oregon State passing game.

In the slot will be dangerous sophomore James Rodgers, a 5-7, 182-pound dynamo who can beat a defense by catching passes or taking handoffs on the fly sweep. Whether he has the ball or not, he’s the type of playmaker who needs to be accounted for at all times. As a true freshman, he caught 19 passes for 208 yards, adding 594 yards and three touchdowns on the ground on only 50 carries.

At flanker will be sophomore Darrell Catchings, who debuted with 33 grabs for 386 yards and a touchdown, picking up some of the slack after Stroughter was injured. At 5-11 and 168 pounds, he’s an underrated downfield blocker who should improve on last year’s production with Stroughter and Rodgers getting so much attention.          

Junior Howard Croom broke from a congested pack last year to start 13 games and lead all tight ends with 20 catches for 188 yards and a team-high three touchdowns. A good run blocker with dependable hands at 6-3 and 249 pounds, he’ll be the starter for a second straight year.     

Projected Top Reserves: Shane Morales and Chris Johnson are a couple of seniors who bring a veteran presence to the second team. The 6-1, 203-pound Morales does the little things well and has great hands, catching 16 for 115 yards. 

Johnson is 6-1 and 193 pounds, doing most of his work over the past few seasons on special teams. A speedy athlete with good size, he caught seven passes for 93 yards, numbers that don’t do justice to his full potential.

The Beavers believe 6-3, 235-pound backup TE Gabe Miller could eventually be a star in this offense, but first he has to stay healthy for an extended period of time. Injured again in April, he’s a versatile all-around player who caught eight balls for 124 yards and a touchdown. 

Watch Out For… Stroughter to help make the quarterbacks more effective than a year ago.  Although not a miracle worker, he is the type of polished pass catcher and route runner who’s sure to make Canfield and Moevao a lot  more confident whenever they drop back to pass and see No. 19 running a pattern.
Strength: Playmakers. Rodgers didn’t really develop until after Stroughter was already on the shelf. With the two of them together on the field at the same time, they’re going to be nightmares for opposing defenses to stop.
Weakness: Size. The Beavers come up a little, well, short in terms of size. None of the starters are above 6-0 or 200 pounds and they should have problems being manhandled on the line. Outlook: With Stroughter and Rodgers back, the receivers should be the strength of the Beaver offense. They’ll form a dynamite duo, which will be even more effective if Catchings and Johnson can capitalize on single coverage and make occasional plays as the No. 3 receiver.
Rating: 8

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: The Beaver line will be somewhat of a work-in-progress as it attempts to replace long-time starters Roy Schuening and Kyle DeVan. The cornerstone of the unit will be senior LT Andy Levitre, a returning member of the All-Pac-10 Second Team and the most versatile lineman on the squad. At 6-3 and 324 pounds, he’s a tenacious blocker who goes to the whistle and has a bright future in the NFL.

Next to Levitre at left guard is senior Jeremy Perry, a former all-conference performer, who missed most of last season with a broken leg and has had a history with injuries. When healthy, the 6-2, 334-pound drive blocker is one of the nastiest drive blockers around and a handful for defensive linemen. The Beavers need Perry’s knee to be 100% to have a shot at controlling the line of scrimmage this fall.

Replacing DeVan at center will be 6-5, 277-pound senior Marcus Henderson, a former tackle with a couple of letters on his college resume.  A former walk-on, he’s got the reps in this system and the intelligence to hold up well in his only season as the starter.

To the right of Henderson will be senior G Adam Speer and redshirt freshman T Wilder McAndrews. The 6-3, 301-pound Speer has started 13 games over the last two seasons, displaying the versatility to play center or either guard spot. Especially effective as a run blocker, he has the potential to be an All-Pac-10 player with the necessary recognition.      

McAndrews is only 6-4 and 259 pounds, needing to significantly add weight and muscle to his sizable frame. The coaching staff loves his mobility, footwork, and fundamentals, but his lack of size and experience are pressing concerns heading into the summer.

Projected Top Reserves: Pushing McAndrews for playing time is fellow redshirt freshman Mike Remmers, the top backup at both tackle positions. More physically advanced than the competition at 6-4 and 283 pounds, he has also caught the coaching staff’s attention with his lateral quickness.

The first guard off the bench will be junior Gregg Peat, a 6-3, 299-pounder who started a pair of games and earned a second letter last season. At his best in small spaces, he’s an ornery blocker once he engages the defensive lineman.

Sophomore Ryan Pohl started a couple of games at left tackle last season and can play guard, but will battle Henderson for the center job, a testament to his versatility and smarts. A physical 6-3 and 288-pounder, he has a bright future with the program and an integral role on this year’s team.   

Watch Out For… senior Tavita Thompson. Thompson is the kind of 6-6, 308-pound pass protector who can address the Beavers’ problem at right tackle. However, they won’t have him until early November, when an NCAA suspension is completed. Thompson looked great in the spring and fully plans to be in the mix in the final one-third of the season.
Strength: The left side. Assuming Perry can get through 12 games without a flare-up of his knee problem, the dominant left side of the line will be capable of blowing the other team completely off the ball.
Weakness: The other tackle spot. While Levitre is a rock on the left side, right tackle will be manned by one of two redshirt freshmen who aren’t quite ready to control some of the Pac-10’s better defensive ends. If Sean Canfield is the quarterback, it means his backside will be vulnerable until Thompson rejoins the team for the stretch run.
Outlook: The Beavers will need a lot to go right for this year’s line to approach the consistency of last year’s unit. With Levitre paving the way, Oregon State should be fine on running downs, but pass protection will be an adventure against opponents that can get after the quarterback.
Rating: 7