Replacements key to another successful season for Oregon State

Oregon State surprised many last season by going 9-4 and earning a top-20 ranking after a disastrous 3-9 campaign in 2011.

At Pac-12 Football Media Day Friday in Culver City, Calif., head coach Mike Riley talked about replacing many of the key pieces that led to last year’s successful season.

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“Every team has to form their new identity, and there is going to be people that lead, new people come in,” he said. “We've got to, as we go through, find those replacements, for sure, and kind of nail that down in the fall camp.”

Riley pointed to the interior of the club’s defense as a critical area of changeover, as the Beavers lost their middle linebacker and two defensive tackles. More prominent is the loss of star receiver Markus Wheaton as well as All-American cornerback Jordan Poyer.

Junior Brandin Cooks, who logged 1,151 receiving yards last season, is now top dog among the receivers. Youngsters Richard Mullaney and Malik Gilmore are among those who will line up opposite him..

“I feel that the void that Marcus left, one of those guys will step up and be playmakers and take that pressure off, and they won't be able to do the double coverage, things like that,” Cooks said.

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Consistency will be crucial for the Beavers, who were picked in the preseason media poll to finish third in the North Division. Oregon State finished last season 3-4 after starting 6-0.

“Hopefully we take a lot of what we learned a year ago about playing hard and playing within the confines of each ballgame, and taking advantage of getting ready for each game, and giving it our best shot to win that game, and just continue in that mode,” Riley said.