Oregon State 2003 Football Outlook
Aug. 22, 2003
OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Overview: Mike Riley is back as head coach at Oregon State. He is the new/old coach who laid much of the foundation for the Beavers' recent success. Riley has 16 starters coming back, including some headliners on both sides of the ball. The offense should be potent and the defense has possibilities, along with a few question marks. Riley will have the opportunity for a fast start, as the Beavers play four of the first five at home.
Offense: Oregon State returns nine starters to an offense that should prove to be most potent as some youngsters move from unproven to grizzled veterans. The headliner is All-Pac-10 tailback Steven Jackson, who led the league in rushing by more than 500 yards last year. Touted as a pre-season All-America and major awards candidate, Jackson was eighth in the nation in rushing last year with 1,690 yards and 15 TDs. He posted nine 100-yard rushing games last year and has averaged 5.3 yards per carry his first two seasons at Corvallis. Strong-armed Derek Anderson took over the starting QB job as a sophomore last year and had the ups and downs a sophomore usually does. However, some of the 'ups' included OSU single-season records in passing (3,313 yards) and TD passes (25). If he makes normal sophomore-to-junior improvement, Anderson will be a major force in the Conference. Anderson's primary target will be flanker James Newson, a star who has been somewhat overlooked in a league loaded with standout receivers. He shouldn't be, as his 74 receptions for 1,284 yards (17.4) and 12 TDs last year demonstrate. OSU needs a second threat to take the coverage heat off Newson, and the likes of Kenny Farley, Jayson Boyd and Cole Clasen will vie for that role. Tight end is in good shape with Tim Euhus back for his third year as a starter and redshirt freshman Joe Newton an up-and-comer. The OSU offensive line was hit by injuries that hurt its continuity last year, but it should be solid, if not deep, this year. Center Matt Brock and tackle Doug Nienhuis became starters as sophomores last year. Brian Kilkenny has experience at tackle and David Lose will battle with Jason Fyda at guard.
Defense: Oregon State had one of the sturdier defenses in the Pac-10 last year, ranking second in the league in scoring and total defense. Five starters return and the Beavers figure to be solid up front with a unit built on speed. Replacing two excellent starting cornerbacks is the major task on this side of the ball. Two starters return on the line in tackle Dwan Edwards and end Bill Swancutt. Swancutt registered 12 QB sacks and 21 tackles for losses last year, top figures among Pac-10 returnees in 2003. Dan Rothwell returns from a knee injury to strengthen the rotation at end, and Henry Anderson will be given first shot at the open starting tackle slot. Fiery All-Pac-10 middle linebacker Richard Seigler returns to solidify the center of the defense. Seigler has started all 36 games of his career and posted 99 tackles last year. The Beavs need new starters at the outside backer positions, with juniors Seth Lacey and Jonathan Pollard getting first look. Oregon State has had one of the nation's top secondaries the last couple of years, but hs some big holes to fill at cornerback. The Beavers should be fine at safety with Lawrence Turner at strong and Mitch Meeuwsen, a big-time player who had five picks last year, at free. Redshirt freshman Brandon Browner is a good bet for one cornerback job, with a host of candidates fighting it out for the other. This is a critical area in a league that throws the ball like the Pac-10.
Kicking Game: Former walk-on Kirk Yliniemi made quite a name for himself last year. He missed his first field goal attempt of the season, but then went on to kick a school-record 15 straight, including a pair of 50-yarders, to finish the season 15-of-16. Punter Carl Tobey also returns.