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2010 Oregon State Preview - Offense
Oregon State RB Jacquizz Rodgers
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - Oregon State Beaver Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What you need to know: While it’s not as if coordinator Danny Langsdorf lacks creativity, why bother getting too fancy when you have the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz and James, at your disposal? The incendiary duo will once again be the focal points of the Beaver offense, frustrating defenses by land, air, or any means possible. Now, the gameplan won’t be too tricky, but getting the backs and receivers the ball has a new catch. Oregon State must replace QB Sean Canfield with a quarterback, who has never started a game in Corvallis. The frontrunner coming out of spring was sophomore Ryan Katz, whose lack of experience might be his only shortcoming. He has the physical tools, right demeanor, and adequate supporting cast to hit the ground running in his debut. Besides the brothers, he’ll have access to backup RB Jovan Stevenson, a cadre of exciting pass-catchers, and a veteran line led by C Alex Linnenkohl and LT Michael Philipp.
Star of the offense: Junior RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Passing: Ryan Katz
14-27, 232 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Jacquizz Rodgers
273 carries, 1,502 yds, 21 TDs
Receiving: James Rodgers
91 catches, 1,034 yds, 9 TDs
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
Projected Starter: Now that Sean Canfield has graduated, the baton is being passed to 6-1, 209-pound sophomore Ryan Katz , who was recruited for this moment. As the backup last season, he made brief appearances in four games, finishing 14-of-27 for 232 yards and a touchdown. While not very big, he gets a tight rotation on his passes and throws a nice deep ball. Accurate on the move, he brings a desired package of physical skills, and approached the offseason as if he’s going to be a three-year starter. All he needs now are those valuable in-season reps under center.
Projected Top Reserves: The Beavers will have the luxury of a veteran to caddy behind Katz, 6-4, 222-pound junior Peter Lalich . A starter at Virginia in 2008 before getting in trouble, getting dismissed, and deciding to transfer, he’s not your typical backup. Not only is he the team’s most experienced quarterback, but he has a nice presence in the pocket and a strong arm. He’s had two years to adapt to the surroundings, and won’t buckle at the prospect of being forced into action.
Sneaking up on Lalich for the No. 2 spot is 6-0, 200-pound redshirt freshman Cody Vaz . No, he doesn’t fit the prototype in terms of size, but the staff has been raving about his arm strength, release, and poise for such a young player. Ideally, the Beavers would like a more seasoned player behind Katz, but Vaz could make them rethink that notion. He’s been that good in the offseason.
Watch Out For .... Katz to start slowly before finishing very strong. Yes, he has a lot to digest in the next few months, and opening with TCU and Boise State in the first three games won’t make life any simpler. Still, his physical skills, especially the cannon arm, are undeniable and he has a supporting cast that’s as dynamic as any in the Pac-10.
Strength: Arms. Don’t be fooled by the modest size of Katz. He can wing it around the field with the best of them. He’s accurate on the deep routes and does not leave himself vulnerable to defensive backs on throws from one has to the next. Lalich, too, gets maximum RPMs on his throws, fitting the ball into tight windows.
Weakness: Experience. Lalich is the only Beaver with starting experience, but that came two seasons ago, and won’t matter much if he doesn’t get on the field. Katz is the man in Corvallis, but he’s going to suffer through the growing pains of a young quarterback with just 27 career passing attempts.
Outlook: Oregon State has a good situation at quarterback. You just might not know it for the first month of the season. While Katz has the look of a future star and Lalich has value off the bench, it’s going to take some time adjusting to a new starter. The key for the Beavers is to get Katz to flatten the learning curve as quickly as possible and distribute the ball to the playmakers with as few mistakes as possible.
Projected Starters: Go ahead and include 5-7, 191-pound junior Jacquizz Rodgers on the short list for just about any individual award this season; he is that special. Healthy for an entire season, he displayed his full arsenal of skills rushing 273 times for 1,440 yards and 21 touchdowns , and catching 78 passes for 522 yards and another score. He also threw a touchdown pass on his only attempt. A confluence of shiftiness and unexpected power in that compact frame, he won’t dance around and is always moving forward for more yards. Destined to be one of the best to ever play in Corvallis, injuries about the only thing capable of slowing him down this season.
Projected Top Reserves: The staff is excited about the early progress of 5-11, 183-pound sophomore Jovan Stevenson , who made a positive first impression in 2009. As the primary backup to Rodgers, he ran 26 times for 138 yards and a score, adding five catches for 59 yards. He possesses the speed, quickness, and soft hands to earn an even more prominent role in the offense this fall.
When the Beavers want to move a pile or soften the interior of a defense, they’re liable to turn to 6-1, 228-pound junior Ryan McCants , the most physical of the backs. A no-nonsense, north-south, he’s yet to approach his potential, falling victim to Rodgers’ ascent and a knee injury that limited him to four games and six carries in 2009.
Watch Out For .... more use of Rodgers out of the Wildcat formation. If you have a weapon, like Rodgers, you have two primary objectives—keep him healthy and invent as many ways as possible to get him in space. More than just a runner on direct snaps, the junior has an accurate enough arm to make defensive backs think twice about making a mad dash for the line of scrimmage.
Strength: Quizz. There are a handful of players in the entire country capable of changing the tempo of a game and a defense’s gameplan. Rodgers is one of them. Once considered a knock, he uses his diminutive stature as a tool, and will frustrate defenses in a multitude of different ways.
Weakness: Durability. It’s the only possible knock on a group that has a star at the top of the depth chart and quality depth. Rodgers isn’t particularly thick and had some shoulder problems in his first season. McCants has been hamstrung by the knee injury for the last two seasons, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll be at full speed this fall. Quiz was a rock last season, but Beaver fans will always hold their breath when he’s slow to get to his feet.
Outlook: Quietly, this program never seems to have a problem developing elite players out of the backfield. Rodgers is clearly the next in line. After two seasons, he’s established himself as one of America’s most exciting playmakers and a model of consistency. Stevenson is capable of surprising those people, who believe this is a one-horse stable at Oregon State.
Projected Starters: Senior James Rodgers proved more than capable of handling an expanded role last season, catching a team-high 91 passes for 1,034 yards and nine touchdowns. He also carried the ball 58 times for 303 yards and a touchdown on fly sweeps, giving the offense a multi-dimensional playmaker from the flanker position. Like younger brother, Jacquizz, he’s turned his modest, 5-7 and 185-pound frame into a plus, hiding behind blockers before exploding into the open field. Fast in the first few yards and a stop-and-start nightmare, he often requires more than one defender to keep him from taking over.
Split end is a pivotal position that may not be decided until the summer. Junior Darrell Catchings is trying get beyond last season, which was marked by a serious ankle injury that limited him to two games and two receptions. Too bad, too, because he was coming off a terrific spring and showed the potential to be an adequate replacement for Sammie Stroughter. More of a possession receiver than a burner, the 5-11, 164-pounder hopes to use his guile and fundamentals to get behind defensive backs.
When the Beavers feature a receiver in the slot, 6-3, 199-pound sophomore Jordan Bishop is likely to be the choice. He used his good size and good hands to debut with 13 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown. He uses his body well to get position on defenders, and has the speed to take a short pitch and streak through a secondary.
Oregon State’s promise to make better use of the H-back in 2009 was not unfulfilled. Of course, it helped having 6-2, 252-pound junior Joe Halahuni running routes. He quickly seized the opportunity, finishing fourth on the team with 35 catches for 486 yards and three touchdowns. A tank with the ball in his hands, he’s surprisingly nimble and no stranger to making acrobatic grabs. The staff has to find ways to get him even more involved in the offense this fall.
Projected Top Reserves: The evolution of Halahuni meant fewer reps for 6-4, 265-pound senior TE Brady Camp , a solid veteran and three-time letterwinner. While he only caught five passes for 40 yards and two touchdowns, he remains a terrific blocker and a viable short-range option in the passing game, especially near the goal line.
Going stride-for-stride with Catchings at split end is 6-0, 178-pound sophomore Markus Wheaton , who caught eight passes for 89 yards a year ago. While not as polished as the competition, he compensates with track speed and creative moves in the open field. While he polishes up his game, the Beavers will look to isolate him in man coverage, where that explosiveness is tough to contain.
The veteran in the slot will be 6-0, 185-pound senior Aaron Nichols , a steady receiver coming off his best season as a Beaver. Showing good hands and precise routes, he had 11 receptions for 176 yards and a touchdown, numbers he can top if given enough opportunities to spell Bishop this fall.
Watch Out For .... the battle at split end. Besides quarterback, this could be the most important position in the summer. Oregon State really values this spot because it gets plenty of chances to make plays in man-to-man situations, and because Rodgers needs all the support he can get on the other side. If the split ends don’t perform, Rodgers’ production will absolutely feel the negative impact.
Strength: Playmakers. From Rodgers on down to Wheaton on the second team, everyone in this unit has the ability to make people whiff in the open field and jet to the end zone. The receivers are small, fast, and combustible. Heck, even at 6-2 and 252 pounds, Halahuni is a threat to make things happen after the catch.
Weakness: Size. Yeah, the Beavers like their receivers to be jackrabbits, but the occasional tree climber would provide a nice complement to the rest of the group. Oregon State lacks size and length, and is prone to being knocked around at the line of scrimmage and in the secondary.
Outlook: While it may not be the perfect ensemble, there’s plenty of potential to work around Rodgers, who’ll lead the way and a bunch of quality young athletes supporting him. The receivers are going to assist the new quarterback by picking up plenty of yards after the catch. Halahuni is an interesting weapon, who’ll continue to be utilized on the intermediate routes.
Projected Starters: Although all-star RG Gregg Peat will certainly be missed, the Beavers are in fine shape with the return of four regulars, who’ve combined for 72 career starts. His replacement is expected to be 6-4, 280-pound junior Burke Ellis , a former walk-on who earned his first letter as a backup last season. He has the right work ethic as he seeks a scholarship and has added considerable weight since arriving, but needs a lot of improvement with his technique.
Next to Ellis at right tackle is another former walk-on, 6-4, 305-pound junior Mike Remmers , who’s come a long way since arriving without a free ride. Once painfully raw in pass protection, he’s come a long way with his footwork and the use of his hands. He still has work to do, but is now considered an asset for the front wall.
At the pivot, Oregon State boasts one of the Pac-10’s best centers, 6-2, 303-pound senior Alex Linnenkohl , an honorable mention all-star in 2009. Ferocious at the point of attack and quick to the second level, he has a future at the next level if he tests well next spring. Most important to the staff, he’s an emotional leader and heady blocker, who makes everyone around him better.
The emerging star of the group is 6-3, 307-pound sophomore Michael Philipp , who wasted no time by starting all 13 games at left tackle in his debut season. The school’s top recruit of 2009, he played like it last fall, dominating at times at the point of attack. One of the best young drive blockers of the country, he was a Freshman All-American, the first of many honors he’s going to earn in Corvallis.
Assuming he can bounce back from offseason shoulder surgery, 6-3, 280-pound junior Grant Johnson is expected to be back at left guard for a second straight season. Yet another walk-on to make good in this program, he started all 13 games a year ago and kept his head above water for most of the year. Prone to getting exposed by more physical players, he relies more on his quickness and good feet.
Projected Top Reserves: If Johnson leaves the door open or is slow to recover from the shoulder injury, 6-3, 284-pound senior Ryan Pohl is the backup most likely to take advantage. A versatile veteran of three letters and plenty of reps, he has the head and the feet to not skip a beat if forced into action.
After caddying at tackle last season, 6-4, 285-pound sophomore Colin Kelly is moving inside to right guard and providing competition for Ellis. He’s added muscle and improved his strength since arriving on campus, yet remains light on his feet. A quality pass protector, he needs to work on his drive blocking and do a better job of standing up bull rushers.
Watch Out For .... the whereabouts of 6-4, 282-pound senior Wilder McAndrews . Always talented enough to be in the lineup, he’s struggled with injuries throughout his career. However, he’s coming off a solid and healthy spring that has the staff thinking about juggling the formation. In an effort to get the five best linemen in the huddle, assistant Mike Cavanaugh will consider slotting McAndrews at tackle and moving Phillip to guard.
Strength: Drive blocking. No, it’s not a complete unit quite yet, but with Philipp and Linnenkohl paving the way, the Beavers have a pair of ferocious road grader, who’ll open a lot of holes for the backs this fall.
Weakness: The guards. After the two all-star candidates, the Beaver line is comprised of overachievers and former walk-ons. That’s no more evident than at the guard spots, where Ellis is a first-time starter looking for a scholarship and Johnson is an average performer coming off shoulder surgery.
Outlook: While there’s a good base of talent to build around and terrific coach in Cavanaugh, Oregon State still has room for growth up front. Too often, it was beat in the trenches last season, laboring against the better front sevens. If McAndrews is finally able to play an entire season, it could change the dynamic of this unit.