College Football Preview: The 2014 Oregon State Beavers
Oregon State Beavers 0-0
2014 College Football Preview
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Overview: The Oregon State Beavers had another OK season under head coach Mike Riley, finishing 7-6 and winning a bowl game for the first time since 2008. While reaching bowl games and what not is good for Oregon State’s growth, critics are starting to wonder when Riley and his staff are going to begin to turn the corner and start competing with the big boys in the Pac-12. We are entering Riley’s 12th season with Oregon State, and he’s had just one season of double-digit wins. Yes, fans must understand that Riley has less to work with than other schools, but the fan base can’t help but start getting impatient and want a little more.
Offense: Oregon State’s offense will manage as long as Sean Mannion remains at quarterback. Mannion could have left early for the NFL draft but decided to return for another year. He has more than 10,000 career passing yards, 68 career touchdowns and completed 66.3 percent of his passes last season. On the flipside, the Beavers did lose wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who led the country in receiving yards last season. That’s going to leave a massive crater in this offense considering Richard Mullaney is the only other wideout with any real experience. Oregon State also has no running game, finishing 118th in the country in rushing yards last year. Storm Woods has the potential to be a very good player, but Beaver fans are still waiting. Still, while there are questions on this side of the ball, Oregon State has its quarterback, which tends to help mask a lot of other issues.
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Defense: Oregon State’s defense should improve from the ninth spot it finished in the Pac-12 last season. The Beavers return a lot of players from a year ago, including tackle machines in Tyrequek Zimmerman, Jabral Johnson and Ryan Murphy. Oregon State returns a ton of experience and talent in the linebacker department and will get an even bigger boost with the return of Michael Doctor. The Beavers secondary is also in great hands with Steven Nelson looking to build on a solid season last year where he produced six interceptions. If there are any concerns with this unit it would be the defensive line with the loss of Scott Crichton. The Beavers must figure out ways to generate a pass rush without the disruptive defensive end.
Special Teams: Trevor Romaine is once again the field goal kicker after drilling 14 of 20 attempts last season. At punter, Keith Kostol will hold down the fort after averaging a decent 40.50 yards per attempt a year ago.
Outlook: On paper this looks like another team that sniffs a bowl game, but once again doesn’t do much besides its typical six or seven wins. The Beavers have an unproven defensive line and can’t run the ball to save their life, which of course puts a ton of pressure on their quarterback. Oregon State also has to travel to USC and Stanford, while playing Oregon at the end of the season. It’s not going to be an easy road for Oregon State and Beaver fans shouldn’t expect to compete for a Pac-12 title with this roster, but another bowl game should be within reach as long as they can keep their QB upright.