Spring Football Outlook/Depth Chart
March 13, 2001
Corvallis, Ore. -
Question and Answer with Head Coach Dennis Erickson
QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH THIS SPRING? 'We have some areas of concern. We lost some starters from last year who were very good players, so we have to fill those voids. The biggest thing we have to do is find out who the replacements will be in those areas. We need to identify who will be playing for us in the fall.'
QUESTION: WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS/QUESTIONS AS YOU HEAD INTO SPRING DRILLS? 'We have a number of concerns. We lost both of our defensive ends. We lost an outside linebacker. We also lost a cornerback and a safety. Offensively, we lost all three starting receivers. We need to have some players step up at those positions and fill the void. We lost our top two tight ends and some people on the offensive front. Really, the only area where we are in good shape is at running back and quarterback on offense. We also have some positions returning on the offensive line. Our tackles are back on defense, along with a couple of linebackers and two starters in the secondary. Filling the voids of the starters who are gone is the main theme of spring practice.'
QUESTION: WHERE DO YOU FEEL THE STRENGTH LIES WITH THIS TEAM? 'As I look at our team on defense, we have two tackles who have played a lot in Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards, and I feel that is a strength. We have several good linebackers returning in Nick Barnett, Richard Seigler, who is coming off a great year, and James Allen. Linebacking is a definite strength for us. Calvin Carlyle and Jake Cookus return at safeties and Dennis Weathersby at cornerback to give us solid players at those positions. Our strengths on offense are at quarterback and tailback. Jonathan Smith returns at quarterback and Ken Simonton and Patrick McCall return at tailback. We also have some strength in the offensive line, particularly on the ride side where we have returning starters in Keith DiDomenico at right guard and Vincent Sandoval at right tackle (Sandoval started at left tackle in 2000). And of course, we have an All-American in Chris Gibson returning at center.'
QUESTION: WHERE DO YOU ANTICIPATE YOUR BIGGEST POSITION BATTLES? 'Our biggest position battle this spring on offense will be at wide receiver. Shawn Kintner and Seth Trimmer have played a lot at wide receiver. There will be great competition at left guard. Tyler McClaughry, Mike Kuykendall and Kanan Sanchez will battle for the left guard spot and one of them needs to step up. The biggest battle on defense will be for the two defensive end spots. We have Kyle Rosselle and Dan Rothwell coming back, plus a couple of junior college players will be added to the mix. We are moving Brian Tulikihihifo from tackle to the outside this spring. We should have some great competition at defensive end. We will have some good competition for one corner spot where we lost Keith Heyward-Johnson. D.J. Coote is a junior college transfer and he will be battling with Shamon Jamerson and redshirt freshmen Aric Williams and Johan Thomas for the spot.'
QUESTION: WILL YOU HAVE ANY POSITION SWITCHES FROM LAST YEAR? 'Not really. We are moving Brian Tulikihihifo from defensive tackle to defensive end, but that is a minor change. We will move our offensive front around to see where the best people fit. Mike Kuykendall is moving from tackle to guard and we are moving Sandoval (Vincent) from left tackle to right tackle. Daniel Torres, who has been a backup defensive lineman, will move to tight end this spring.'
QUESTION: WITH JONATHAN SMITH LIMITED TO NON-CONTACT DRILLS DUE TO SURGERY TO HIS LEFT HAND, TALK ABOUT HOW THE QUATERBACK PICTURE WILL PLAY OUT? 'The quarterback situation is going to be very good for us this spring. Jonathan will get some turns, but obviously they won't be live. This spring the battle will be for the number two spot. We have Nick Stremick, Shayne House, who is back off shoulder surgery, Ryan Kanekeberg, and Adam Rothenfluh. Those guys will get the turns and it will really help us as far as development of our second and third guys. It will be a good spring for all of our quarterbacks.'
QUESTION: YOU HAVE TALKED BEFORE ABOUT EACH TEAM HAVING ITS OWN PERSONALITY. IS THIS SOMETHING YOU CAN FIND OUT DURING SPRING DRILLS? 'You can tell the strengths and weaknesses of our team and what we need to do offensively and defensively, to a point. I don't know that you really find out what your true personality is until the season starts. At least it will give us an idea of what are strengths and weaknesses are. This will create what we need to do as far as our plans for offense and defense as we get into the season.'
QUESTION: OSU IS COMING OFF THE BEST SEASON IN SCHOOL HISTORY. HAS THE BAR BEEN RAISED FOR EXPECTATIONS FOR OREGON STATE FOOTBALL? WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE 2001 SEASON?'Our expectations are the same as when I came here three years ago. Our goals are to win the Pac-10 championship and go to a bowl game. That is what are goals are every year and that is what they will always be here.'
QUESTION: OSU HAD THE HIGHEST SCORING OFFENSIVE TEAM IN OSU HISTORY IN 2000, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OFFENSIVE UNIT OVERALL AS WE HEAD INTO SPRING? 'We have some question marks. Obviously the strengths are returnees at quarterback and our running game with Ken Simonton and Patrick McCall. That is the type of team we are probably going to be this year. We need to have some development at wide receiver. We need guys that will make big plays -- that has to happen for us. The same thing is true at tight end. We had Marty Maurer and Bennie Johnson around for two years, now someone else needs to step up and play. But our strength right now has to be running the football.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT YOUR RUNNING BACKS. IS THIS BEST ONE-TWO PUNCH YOU HAVE COACHED? 'It is the same one-two punch as we had last year and I don't know that you will ever have a better one-two punch than Ken Simonton and Patrick McCall.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT YOUR RECEIVERS AS A GROUP. 'It is a group that is inexperienced in some ways, but isn't in other ways. Shawn Kintner and Seth Trimmer have both played a lot and they now must step up and play. Shawn is a tremendous player and now it is his time. The same thing can be said of Seth. We have some young guys that I am really impressed with: George Gillett is a redshirt freshman that I really like. Aaron Hill came on strong at the end of the season and both have a chance to contribute on the outside. Mike Payton played some at slot last year, but we are moving James Newson inside to have the opportunity to be the starter. Ron Monteilh is an outstanding young player who will be part of the mix at slot this spring. We are inexperienced, but we do have some talent. Now they just have to step up an play.'
QUESTION: YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE? 'We made some moves in the offensive line. Chris Gibson returns at center where he earned All-America honors last year. Vincent Sandoval moves from left tackle to right tackle. Keith DiDomenico, who did not play last year, returns at right guard where he has been a two-year starter. Really, the question marks are on the left side of the line. Lee Davis, who played quite a bit last year, will have the opportunity to play left tackle. Brian Kilkenny will press Davis. Left guard will be an interesting battle between three players this spring. We have Tyler McClaughry who has been around for a long time. Mike Kuykendall is a good athlete and Kanan Sanchez is a young redshirt. It is a group that has some experience, but I think it has a chance to be a very good offensive line.'
QUESTION: OREGON STATE'S DEFENSE HAS BEEN VERY STRONG FOR TWO YEARS IN A ROW AND LED THE PAC-10 IN DEFENSE LAST YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UNIT OVERALL? 'We have a chance to be very good in some areas. You don't lose guys like DeLawrence Grant, LaDairis Jackson, Darnell Robinson, Terrence Carroll and Keith Heyward-Johnson and not be hurt. Those guys were great players who made a lot of plays for us. But, I like our defense. Start with our tackles, which is a real key. Eric Manning and Dwan Edwards are both solid players. They are a very good pair, as good as we have had. We need to have Paul Soto and David Lose step up as backups. Our question marks are at defensive end. I like Kyle Rosselle, he has played well for us in a backup role. Dan Rothwell played as a backup last year and now he needs to be a factor. We are moving Brian Tulikihihifo to defensive end after playing at tackle last year. Alvin Steen is a junior college transfer we have brought in and we need to take a good look at him at defensive end. The strength of our defense is our linebackers. We have Richard Seigler back, who was as good as anybody in our league last year. Nick Barnett played a lot and started several games last year. Both Seigler and Barnett run really well. James Allen won't be in spring ball, but he is as good as there is in the Pac-10. Some other guys will have to emerge as players. We have brought in Jason Lowe from junior college and he was one of the best junior college players in the country. Jonathan Pollard and Seth Lacey are good-looking redshirt freshmen. We also have Jason Jacobs, Erik Tuma and Noah Happe who have played. I am very excited about our group of linebackers. Our secondary has a lot of veterans. Calvin Carlyle and Jake Cookus return at the safeties and we also have Terrell Roberts and Mitch Meeuwsen available. I like the look of that group. Obviously we need to find another cornerback to go along with Dennis Weathersby. D.J. Coote, a junior college transfer, will be here this spring to compete for the job, along with Shamon Jamerson, a letterman who redshirted last year. We also have a pair of redshirt freshmen in the mix, Aric Williams and Johan Thomas. One of those four needs to emerge as a starter. We have a chance to be a decent team on defense if guys progress like we expect them to do.'
QUESTION: TALK ABOUT YOUR KICKERS/PUNTERS. 'Ryan Cesca is back and that gives us an opportunity to have a very good kicker. Our punting situation is different. Carl Tobey was a backup to Mike Fessler last year and he has a chance of being a decent punter. Ryan Cozzetto is a freshman coming in this fall and he was one of the better prep punters in the country. He will have a chance to compete when we start fall camp.'
QUESTION: WHAT IMPACT TO YOU EXPECT FROM JUNIOR COLLEGE TRANSFERS? 'We believe our junior college transfers have a chance to make a tremendous impact. All of them have an opportunity to come in and contribute this year, and that is a big key for us. D.J. Coote, was a JC All-American, and he has a chance to come in and start for us at corner. Jason Lowe has a chance at linebacker, as does Alvin Steen at defensive end. James Lee, who will come in this fall, will give us depth on the defensive line. We expect all eight junior college transfers to come in and compete for playing time.
QUESTION: THOUGHTS ON THIS YEAR'S RECRUITNG CLASS? IS THERE A CHANCE ANY FRESHMEN WILL PLAY THIS FALL? 'It is an awfully good recruiting class, 19 high school kids and eight junior college players. I have already mentioned our junior college players. As far as the high school players, it is a class with great speed and we are very excited about them. It will be three or four years down the road before we know the impact of this class. We think there are some individuals who have a chance to come in and play this fall. Joshua Hawkins and Jayson Boyd at wide receiver are a couple of guys who have a chance to come in and play early and have an impact. Bill Swancutt is another guy we feel who has a chance to come in and play at defensive end. It is very hard for a freshman to come in and play right away. To me, Steven Jackson is probably as good a recruit as we have. However, as you know, we have two outstanding running backs returning in Ken Simonton and Patrick McCall. It is a very good class and I am hopeful we will be able to redshirt most of the class.'