SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Oregon St. Beavers

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Mike Riley (1st year, 2nd stint, 8-14)
2002 record: 8-5 (Lost to Pittsburgh 38-13 in Insight Bowl)
Pac-10 finish: T-4th
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 148.7 ypg
(1st in Pac-10, 56th in nation)
Pass: 262.6 ypg (6th, 25th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 94.2 ypg (3rd, 9th)
Pass: 199.3 ypg (1st, 39th)
Projected Starters
Offense (9 returning starters in bold)
SE  17  Jayson Boyd  So. 
FL   2   James Newson   Sr.  
SL   1   Kenny Farley   Sr.  
LT  62  Brian Kilkenny  Sr. 
LG   75   David Lose   Sr.  
C   73   Matt Brock   Jr.  
RG   55   Kanan Sanchez   Jr.  
RT   65   Doug Nienhuis   Jr.  
TE   84   Tim Euhus   Sr.  
QB   14   Derek Anderson   Jr.  
TB   34   Steven Jackson   Jr.  
Defense (6)
DE   91   Noah Happe   Sr.  
DT  99  Henry Anderson  So. 
DT   98   Dwan Edwards   Sr.  
DE   90   Bill Swancutt   Jr.  
SLB  50  Seth Lacey  Jr. 
MLB   51   Richard Seigler   Sr.  
WLB  40  Jonathan Pollard  Jr. 
CB  Shamon Jamerson  Sr. 
CB  Aric Williams  Jr. 
SS   7   Lawrence Turner   Sr.  
FS   5   Mitch Meeuwsen   Jr.  
Special Teams
46  Kirk Yliniemi  Sr. 
48  Carl Tobey  Sr. 
KR  29  Dwight Wright  Jr. 
PR  Aric Williams  Jr. 
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  Sacramento State 
Sept. 6  at Fresno State 
Sept. 13  New Mexico State 
Sept. 20  Boise State 
Sept. 27  Arizona State 
Oct. 4  at California 
Oct. 18  Washington 
Oct. 25  at Washington State 
Nov. 1  Arizona 
Nov. 15  Stanford 
Nov. 22  at Oregon 
Dec. 6  at USC 
Six years ago, Mike Riley would have been canonized for leading Oregon State to a bowl game in his first stint as the Beavers' head coach. Now Riley -- who returned to his hometown in February after Dennis Erickson split for the San Francisco 49ers -- will be soundly criticized if the Beavers don't go bowling for the fourth time in the past five years. The bar has clearly been raised in Corvallis, where winning seasons and bowl games were the norm during the four-year Erickson era.

"The goals are different now, there's no question about that,'' said Riley, who set the stage for Erickson by going 8-14 at OSU in 1997-98 before leaving for the San Diego Chargers. "This group got to the point where you can talk about winning the Rose Bowl. Back then you could pretend that it was possible, but it wasn't.''

This time, Riley inherits a Pac-10 contender, not a massive rebuilding job. The Beavers return 15 starters from an 8-5 team, including playmakers like quarterback Derek Anderson, flanker James Newson, tailback Steven Jackson and linebacker Richard Seigler.

Said Riley: "These kids have an identity, they know where they're going and want they want to do,'' which is to return to Pasadena for the first time since the 1964 season.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Anderson was inconsistent as a first-year starter but still threw for a school-record 25 touchdowns and 3,313 yards. Experience and Riley's emphasis on intermediate-range routes should help him significantly raise a subpar 47 percent completion percentage.

Jackson smashed predecessor Ken Simonton's single-season record by rushing for 1,690 yards and proved himself to be a workhorse by averaging 33.6 carries during a 4-1 stretch drive that propelled OSU to the Insight Bowl. He was also an able blocker and receiver (17 catches for 165 yards).

Newson is one of the Pac-10's best, but consistent running mates must be found so he can escape the double- and triple-coverage he often faced during a solid junior season (74 catches, 1,284 yards and 12 TDs). Newson, who contemplated leaving for the NFL, is poised to surpass the school records for career catches and receiving touchdowns.

Projected offensive line regulars Brian Kilkenny, David Lose, Matt Brock, Kanan Sanchez and Doug Nienhuis each started at least five games last season and should progress with a year of experience. Sanchez, however, recently was suspended indefinitely for violation of team rules.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

On the defensive line, senior starters Dwan Edwards and Noah Happe and junior Bill Swancutt are back. They'll be bolstered by the return of senior Dan Rothwell, who was ticketed for a starting job in 2002 until a fall camp knee injury knocked him out for the entire season.

Seigler is a force at middle linebacker, the team's emotional leader and anchor of a unit that features new starters on the strong (Seth Lacey) and weak (Jonathan Pollard) sides.

The secondary is a real concern, as the Beavers must find new starters at cornerback and backup help at safety following the graduation of three veteran starters. The starting safeties are solid -- junior two-year starter Mitch Meeuwsen and senior strong safety Lawrence Turner, a 2002 starter.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Walk-on senior Kirk Yliniemi unseated incumbent Ryan Cesca, making 15-of-16 field goals and 45-of-46 extra points to earn a scholarship. He'll also kick off. Senior Carl Tobey will punt for the third year in a row and needs to continue the progress he made as a junior, when his average (40.3) and hangtime improved.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Riley should enjoy an immediate honeymoon and the respect of his players in his second coaching go-round with Oregon State. The Beavers have seven home games and a favorable non-conference schedule. Throw in the return of nine offensive starters and both kickers, and the Beavers should be poised to go bowling for the fourth time in the past five seasons, mind-boggling when you consider their 1971-98 legacy of ineptitude. Anderson has to show considerable improvement in Pac-10 games and the defense must find capable replacements for seven key players, six of whom will probably sign pro contracts. Inconsistent special teams must also be bolstered, a concern Riley addressed by hiring LeCharls McDaniel as the Beavers' first full-time special teams coordinator since Riley's last tenure.

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