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2009 Oregon State Preview - Offense
Oregon State WR James Rodgers
Oregon State WR James Rodgers
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 5, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Oregon State Beaver Offense

Oregon State Beavers

Preview 2009 - Offense


- 2009 Oregon State Preview | 2009 OSU Offense
- 2009 OSU Defense | 2009 OSU Depth Chart
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2008 OSU Preview | 2007 OSU Preview | 2006 OSU Preview 

What you need to know: The offense will once again revolve around the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, the explosive duo, who’ll vex defenses with their speed, quickness, and versatility. When either has the ball in space, opposing defenses are almost forced into crisis mode. They’re that dangerous. The senior getting them the ball remains a mystery that might not be solved until late in August. Lyle Moevao is the incumbent, but he missed the spring recovering from shoulder surgery, creating an opportunity for lefty Sean Canfield. One of the two needs to be more consistent under center than the program has witnessed in recent years. The Beavers must also replace a quartet of All-Pac-10 players, two at wide receiver and two on the left side of the line. For now, redshirt freshman Colin Kelly is penciled in at left tackle, which is cause for some sleepless nights around Corvallis. 

Returning Leaders
Passing: Lyle Moevao
214-361, 2,534 yds, 19 TD, 13 INT
Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers
259 carries, 1,253 yds, 11 TD
Receiving: James Rodgers
51 catches, 607 yds, 4 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Player who has to step up and become a star: Redshirt freshman LT Colin Kelly
Unsung star on the rise: Junior C Alex Linnenkohl 
Best pro prospect: Rodgers
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Jacquizz Rodgers, 2) WR James Rodgers, 3) QB Lyle Moevao
Strength of the offense: The Rodgers, Quarterback Depth
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback Efficiency, Wide Receiver

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: Two senior quarterbacks vying for one job. And head coach Mike Riley plans to use all of his allotted time to make a decision. The incumbent, 5-11, 220-pound Lyle Moevao, played well last season, but has left the door open after sitting out the offseason with a shoulder injury. The definition of a tough, scrappy player, he doesn’t look the part, but is a human sparkplug and the vocal leader of the offense. Although he can drive the coaches batty with his decision-making and penchant for forcing passes, he throws with some zip and is more mobile than the competition. An honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection last year, he finished 214-of-361 for 2,534 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

While Moevao sat, 6-4, 214-pound Sean Canfield pulled into a dead heat, a complete role reversal from the spring of 2008. Although he’s played a ton of football in Corvallis, he’s never approached the expectations that came with his signing in 2005. The more prototypical pocket passer of the pair, he’s struggled badly with his consistency, labors to escape pressure, and has thrown more career picks than touchdowns. He showed flashes in the spring and was in terrific shape, but he’ll have to deliver in September to convert his skeptics.

Projected Top Reserves: The runner-up in the Moevao-Canfield race will be the No. 2 quarterback. Since both are seniors, the battle for third-string will be interesting because it could be a sneak preview of next summer. Coming out of spring, the job belonged to 6-1, 205-pound redshirt freshman Ryan Katz. He gets maximum RPMs on his passes, shows good touch throwing on the move, and has a nice grasp of the system. At this early stage, he’s the quarterback of the future in Corvallis.

Remember the name Peter Lalich? He was the starting quarterback at Virginia last September before getting in trouble, getting booted, and deciding to transfer about as far away as geographically possible. A 6-4, 229-pound junior, he can really wing it, and has the edge over Katz in game experience. If he adapts quick enough, he could wind up being the second-coming of Derek Anderson before running out of eligibility.

Watch Out For… Moevao to be in the huddle when Portland State visits Sept. 5. Of course, that’s assuming his shoulder is fine. Forget what you think a quarterback should look like. Moevao has a certain set of intangibles that Canfield will never possess. He inspires his teammates, he’ll bury a linebacker downfield on a block, and he’ll make plays to keep drives alive. Basically, he gives the Beavers their best chance to win.
Strength: Multiple players with starting experience. Moevao has 15 career starts under center. Canfield has 11. Having more than one quarterback, who’s played in big games and who understands the speed of the Pac-10 is a luxury that few schools can claim.
Weakness: Turnovers. Overall consistency in the passing game is a problem that’s plagued this program for many years. Two years ago, Moevao and Canfield combined to throw 21 interceptions. Last season, there were 15. Unless that figure continues to come down, the quarterback will be an occasional fly in the offensive ointment.
Outlook: It really doesn’t matter who gets the ball in September as long as that guy produces and cuts down on the turnovers. Both Moevao and Canfield have proven they can pilot the Beavers to wins, which is comforting, especially in a year filled with so much turnover. Health issues aside, Moevao would appear to have a slight edge simply because he’s played the catalyst role better in the past.
Rating: 7.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: Quiz. It’s not just for professors anymore in Corvallis. Sophomore Jacquizz Rodgers became an overnight and improbable rock star in his first season out of high school, becoming the first freshman ever to be named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the year. A blend of shiftiness and power in a compact, 5-7, 193-pound frame, he’s always moving forward and surprisingly difficult to bring down. Despite not being the starter when the season began and missing the final two games, he wound up with 1,253 yards and 11 touchdowns on 259 carries, adding 29 receptions for 247 yards and another score.

Projected Top Reserves: Now that Jeremy Francis has decided to not return to Corvallis, it’s more important than ever for 6-1, 229-pound sophomore Ryan McCants to develop into a reliable backup. The starter at the beginning of last season, he quickly gave way to Rodgers, finishing with 337 yards and two scores on 85 carries. A north-south runner, who’ll do most of his damage between the tackles, he’ll be looking to bounce back from a knee injury suffered in the spring.

Sneaking up on McCants and looking to steal some of his snaps will be 5-11, 184-pound true freshman Jovan Stevenson, who delayed enrollment by greyshirting last season. However, he made a strong first impression throughout the spring, flashing the speed, quickness, and soft hands to carve out a role in the rotation this fall.

Watch Out For… the staff to search for new ways to get the ball in Rodgers’ hands. In just one year, he’s already become one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the country. Look for Oregon State to get creative, exploring all options for getting him in space, much the way it does with his older brother James.
Strength: Quizz. It sort of gets redundant, but did you watch the film of last September’s USC game? He almost single-handedly defeated the Trojans, a defense that would go on to finish No. 2 nationally in total defense and No. 1 in scoring defense. He uses his stature as a tool, and can beat defenses on the inside or to the outside.  
Weakness: Durability. Rodgers isn’t very big, and spent the tail end of last year on the shelf with a shoulder injury. McCants is trying to make it back in time for the opener after going under the knife in April. If either one of these, especially Rodgers, is lost for any period of time, the running game and overall depth is going to suffer.
Outlook: Well, it didn’t take the program long to recover from the loss of Yvenson Bernard, did it? After taking the country by storm in 2008, what can Rodgers possibly do for an encore. If he can stay healthy for the entire season, a concern in Corvallis, he’ll stockpile the numbers and the individual accolades for a second straight season.
Rating: 9

Receivers

Projected Starters: Last year’s top two receivers, Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales, have departed, leaving the offense with holes to fill in the passing game. The one constant will be 5-7, 185-pound junior James Rodgers, the Beavers’ flanker and most versatile playmaker. Part receiver and part running back, he’ll hurt defenses catching passes or taking handoffs on the fly sweep. An electrifying weapon whenever the ball is in his hands, he caught 51 passes for 607 yards and four touchdowns, adding 408 yards and five more scores on just 46 carries.

Supplanting Stroughter at split end will be 5-11, 173-pound junior Darrell Catchings, who’s coming off his best spring with the program. A bit of a disappointment last season, he only made seven grabs for 95 yards, a far cry from his freshman debut. However, he has seized the opportunity in the offseason, showing the separation speed and athletic ability to evolve into the long ball hitter of this group.

In the slot, the staff is turning to 6-2, 205-pound junior Casey Kjos, who’ll be getting his first opportunity to be more than just a special teams contributor. Although he only had two catches for 15 yards a year ago, he’s proven in practice to be a precise route runner with some of the most reliable hands on the team.

Although 6-3, 240-pound senior Howard Croom has a team-high 23 career starts, earning another one is going to require a strong summer session. While he’ll no doubt have a role on offense, it could be diminished by the team’s depth at the position. A better blocker than pass-catcher, he had just six receptions for 37 yards, a sharp decline from the previous year.

Projected Top Reserves: As the reserves jockeyed for positioning in the offseason, no wide receiver stood out more than 6-3, 199-pound redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop. He consistently flashed the big-play skills and sure hands that will earn him more than just occasional reps as the backup to Catchings at split end.

Running neck-and-neck with Croom at tight end is 6-4, 259-pound junior Brady Camp. In fact, if he wins the job in the summer, it wouldn’t surprise anyone. He has better size than the incumbent, using his frame to blow up defenders on running plays and establish position as a receiver. He led all tight ends in 2008 with a dozen catches for 92 yards and two scores.

When the Beavers employ the use of an H-back, 6-3, 240-pound junior John Reese is likely to get the call. A powerful downfield blocker and reliable intermediate receiver, he pulled down 10 balls for 109 yards a year ago.

Watch Out For… the tight ends and H-backs to have an expanded role. Oregon State has always liked using these guys to soften the middle of the field, but they’ll be even busier as the new wide receivers get comfortable in September and October. The Beavers are well-stocked with veteran tight end, which also raises their value.
Strength: Playmakers. Even without Stroughter, Oregon State is confident it harbors the receivers needed to be a quick-strike offense. While it all starts with the dynamic Rodgers, it’ll be worth watching the development of Catchings as well. His type 2 diabetes now under control, he’s poised to become the field-stretcher that the offense is seeking.  
Weakness: Proven depth at wide receiver. Hey, Bishop has looked like the real deal in practice, but it should be a concern when the best-looking backup has yet to play a real game. The Beavers’ most productive backup a year ago, Kjos, had just a pair of catches.
Outlook: Rodgers, like brother Jacquizz, is a bona fide star, but he’s going to need a little protection now that Stroughter and Morales are gone. If the passing game is going to click and provide balance for the offense, it’s imperative that Catchings and Kjos catch at least 35 passes apiece this season.
Rating: 7

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: With the loss of four seniors and an all-star left side of the line, the Beavers have spent part of the offseason trying to retool and recharge the front wall. They do believe they have a budding rock at center in 6-2, 297-pound junior Alex Linnenkohl, a 13-game starter in his first season of extensive action. Quick to the second level, tenacious, and always scrapping, he’s exactly what Oregon State seeks in its offensive linemen.

To his immediate right, Linnenkohl will see a familiar face, 6-3, 295-pound Gregg Peat, who started every game at guard last season. A steady, consistent blocker, especially on running downs, he’s not drawing attention from the NFL, but he’s also not the kind of player that’s going to hurt this unit with mental mistakes.

Rounding out the right side of the line at tackle will be 6-4, 299-pound sophomore Mike Remmers, a starter during the first half of last season. Although he struggled in pass protection and was eventually replaced by Tavita Thompson, he does have the size and strength to play the position once he sharpens his technique and improves his footwork.

The narrow favorite at left guard is 6-3, 284-pound junior Ryan Pohl, who has played only a handful of games over the last two seasons. One of the smartest and most versatile members of this unit, he can play just about any position if needed. A little undersized for the position, he uses his hands well and has the light feet to get out of the box in a hurry.

The biggest question mark will be at left tackle, where 6-4, 284-pound redshirt freshman Colin Kelly took a slight edge out of spring. If Lyle Moevao is the quarterback, it means the rookie will be protecting his blindside. He’s added weight and improved his strength since arriving, yet remains very nimble for his size. While he has a chance to be special, the learning curve this season will be steep.

Projected Top Reserves: Kelly’s chief competition at left tackle will come from 6-4, 288-pound junior Wilder McAndrews, the veteran of the second unit. A transfer from Hawaii and a backup before hurting his wrist in 2008, he has the raw athletic ability that the coaches believe can be molded into a productive offensive lineman.

Pohl may have a lead at left guard, but it’s slim. Sophomore Michael Lamb figures to mount a challenge once he returns from a knee injury in the summer. He’s tough at the point of contact, and has shown an ability to drive defenders off the ball and back on their heels.

Watch Out For… incoming freshman Michael Philipp. The school’s top recruit of 2009 and a target of most Pac-10 programs, he is physically ready to contribute immediately. A dominant run blocker and solid pass protector, he’ll be the most watched rookie in August. The coaches have already stated, however, that if he doesn’t start, he’s going to redshirt.
Strength: The right side, including center. A big concern last summer, from Linnenkohl to Remmers is where the Beavers will be running most of their plays this season. All three players started last season, which will serve them well as they become the new leaders of the offensive line.
Weakness: The left side. This is where the situation could become precarious this season. Looking to succeed Andy Levitre and Adam Speer, a pair of All-Pac-10 performers, are Kelly and Pohl, who have just a couple of career starts between them. Obviously, the drop-off from last season is going to be noticeable.
Outlook: While line coach Mike Cavanaugh perennially does a fantastic job here, he’ll have his hands full this season. Sure, there’s potential up front, especially if Philipp is set to start, but there’s no true anchor and those issues to the left of Linnenkohl could take much of the year to solve. Cavanaugh will coach them up, as always, but this won’t be a vintage Beaver line.
Rating: 7