2010 Oregon State Preview
Oregon State DE Stephen Paea
Oregon State DE Stephen Paea
Posted May 5, 2010

The CFN 2010 Oregon State Beavers Preview, Breakdown, and Analysis.

Oregon State Beavers

Preview 2010

- 2010 Oregon State Preview | 2010 Oregon State Offense
- 2010 Oregon State Defense | 2010 Oregon State Depth Chart
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- By Richard Cirminiello

Head Coach: Mike Riley
10th year: 64-47
Returning Lettermen
Off. 30, Def. 25, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Oregon State Players
1. RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Jr.
2. DT Stephen Paea, Sr.
3. WR James Rodgers, Sr.
4. C Alex Linnenkohl, Sr.
5. S Lance Mitchell, Jr.
6. LT Michael Philipp, Soph.
7. PK Justin Kahut, Sr.
8. CB James Dockery, Sr.
9. HB Joe Halahuni, Jr.
10. LB Dwight Roberson, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 TCU (in Arl.)
Sept. 11 OPEN DATE
Sept. 18 Louisville
Sept. 25 at Boise St
Oct. 2 Arizona State
Oct. 9 at Arizona
Oct. 16 at Washington
Oct. 30 California
Nov. 6 at UCLA
Nov. 13 Washington St
Nov. 20 USC
Nov. 27 at Stanford
Dec. 4 Oregon

Oregon State has become bored with making experts' preseason predictions look foolish. After coming so close the last two seasons, now it's time to actually finish a feel-good story by winning a Pac-10 title.

Few programs in America have worn the overachiever label with more pride than OSU. Every year, it seems, the Beavers are pegged for somewhere around the middle of the conference standings. And every year, they finish in the top three, with a shot of winning a title in November. The last two have been especially painful, losing out on a first Rose Bowl bid since 1964 on the final game of the regular season—versus bitter rival Oregon.

In all likelihood, Oregon State will be overlooked in August, only to overshoot its target by December. In Corvallis, it's all about the staff. Since returning from the NFL in 2003, Mike Riley and his assistants have done a magnificent job of perennially taking other people's trash and coaching it into treasures. Flush with marginal recruits and former walk-ons, the Beavers have won five bowl games over the last seven years and are 36-17 since 2006. If the rest of the country hasn't caught on to what Riley has been up to, it probably never will.

Just like last season and the year before, there's work to be done. No one in the Pacific Northwest appears worried, however. Call it a part of the culture surrounding the program or just an appreciation for recent history. On offense, all roads again lead to one of the Rodgers brothers, RB Jacquizz or WR James, forming one of the most electrifying tandems in the country. The big unknown will be behind center, where sophomore Ryan Katz will try to pick up where Sean Canfield left off in 2009. The defense has more returning starters than a year ago, but many of the same concerns. Sure, Stephen Paea might be the Pac-10's premier defensive lineman, but he can't improve the Beavers' sack total, takeaways, or pass defense by himself. He needs more help, specifically on the front seven.

There are holes to fill on both sides of the ball, and enough time to get the job done. With one of the best collections of teachers in America, only a fool would doubt the Beavers' ability to adapt to change and get a handful of former backups ready for a bigger role. Blowing past expectations is in their DNA. With a few breaks and better navigation of the Ducks, so might a trip to Pasadena.

What to watch for on offense: An even greater use of the backs and the tight ends in the passing. It's not as if Ryan Katz doesn't have the zip to get the ball downfield. He does. The Beavers, though, won't want to take too many chances in the early going until he shows an adequate comfort level as the starter. It's a good thing they have a capable collection of hands to haul in those short and intermediate tosses. Jacquizz Rodgers was second on the team with 78 receptions, and is always a threat with the ball in the flat. Brady Camp is a capable tight end, with three years of experience. And H-back Joe Halahuni is one of the Pac-10's best-kept secrets, a 6-2, 252-pounder who can nuance agility with raw power.

What to watch for on defense: The ends. Oregon State took a rare nosedive in sack production last fall, largely because the defensive ends went AWOL. Collectively, they had just six sacks in 2009, putting extra pressure on a rebuilding secondary. Now, Gabe Miller shows a lot of potential in his second season since switching sides of the ball, but he needs a lot of help. Beaver fans are cautiously optimistic that Taylor Henry's spring game performance was no fluke. He got to the quarterback four times in the game, lending hope that the pass defense won't be naked again in 2010.

The team will be far better if… if it creates more turnovers. In 13 games, the Beavers had just 16 stinking takeaways last season. That just isn't going to cut it for a program with serious designs on winning a Pac-10 championship. Over the last six seasons, Oregon State is 30-5 when it commits fewer turnovers than the other team. Now, it got bailed out by an offense that almost never coughed it up, but there are no promises that trend will continue. This school has way too many good athletes on defense to not be jarring loose and picking off more balls.

The Schedule: The non-conference schedule will likely end up being a big bowl of nasty. Louisville should be a bit better under new head coach Charlie Strong, but that's still an almost certain win. Going to Boise State is a statement moment for the team before diving into Pac 10 play, and there's the other game which technically is still open. It's almost certainly going to be TCU, for good or bad. The Beavers get a break in conference play with five home games including California, USC, and Oregon. There's an issue with three road games in four weeks, but if there's any dream of going to the Rose Bowl the team has to be good enough to beat Arizona and Washington in back-to-back weeks.

Best offensive player: Junior RB Jacquizz Rodgers. Instant offense is the most concise way to describe the Beavers' All-America candidate. In two seasons, he's gone from a lightly-recruited player out of Texas to one of the most exciting playmakers in the country. Whether he's taking handoffs, catching passes, or fielding snaps out the wildcat package, he's always a threat to pop off a momentum-changing play. A year ago, he ran for 1,440 yards, caught 78 passes, and accounted for 23 touchdowns, including a scoring strike. Oh, and don't be confused by his 5-7, 188-pound frame. He's plenty tough between the tackles and won't go out of his way to avoid contact.

Best defensive player: Senior DT Stephen Paea. The New Zealand native was voted as the most dominant defensive lineman in the Pac-10 last year…by Pac-10 offensive linemen. The conundrum for opposing blockers is how to contain a player, who has the quick feet of some linebackers and as much raw upper body power as any player in Corvallis. He commands extra attention, absorbing two and three linemen when not making plays himself. After adding considerable muscle in the offseason, he's eyeing national prizes if he can shake his anonymity outside the conference.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Ryan Katz. In an offense that has a preponderance of quality skill position players, no one is asking Katz to be the leading man. However, he has to be capable and efficient in order to maximize the talents of those teammates. The sophomore has tremendous upside, but when will he realize it? His response to that question will dictate whether Oregon State treads water in 2010 or reaches a new level of success.

The season will be a success if ... Oregon State remains in the upper echelon of the Pac-10. Yes, the goal for the Beavers is to finally end their Rose Bowl drought, but setting the bar in Pasadena would be ridiculous. Facing a rugged schedule, with no layups outside of the Nov. 13 visit from Washington State, it'll qualify as another brick in the foundation if Mike Riley & Co. can get their kids back in the eight or nine-win territory.

Key game: Dec. 4 vs. Oregon. As if this rivalry needed any more juice, the last two Civil Wars have decided the Beavers' Rose Bowl fate. Since Oregon State lost both, the fans at Reser Stadium will be seeking their pound of flesh on this Saturday. It's not as if the game requires any subplots, but this year's edition could also determine who plays in Pasadena a month later.

2009 Fun Stats:
- First quarter scoring: Oregon State 112 – Opponents 48
- Time of possession: Oregon State 31:53 – Opponents 28:07
- Third down conversions: Oregon State 46% - Opponents 37%

- 2010 Oregon State Preview | 2010 Oregon State Offense
- 2010 Oregon State Defense | 2010 Oregon State Depth Chart
- Oregon State Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006