TE Joe Newton
Coach: Mike Riley
23-24 ,2 yearS
2004 Record: 7-5
at Louisiana State LOST 21-22
at Boise State LOST 34-53
at Arizona State LOST 14-27
at Washington WON 29-14
at Arizona WON 28-14
at Stanford WON 24-19
vs. Notre Dame WON 38-21

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

As expansions are made to Reser Stadium, the question is whether these Beavers will warrant the added capacity. Under Riley, Oregon State has established a trend of statistical dominance that hasn't necessarily translated into wins on the field. For all of Anderson's records, an Insight.com bowl win remains his crowning accomplishment. Hidden in the Beavers' gaudy numbers is a recent history of interceptions, inconsistent blocking and a penchant for penalties on both sides of the ball.

OSU needs discipline and stability, which hinges on the play at QB and RB. Is Moore enough a competitor after deciding he wasn't getting a shot at UCLA and sitting out all of '04? Can Bernard or Walker prove that wowing coaches in drills means they can get it done against the Pac-10's best? Moore is a solid bet, based on the desire he's shown in off-season workouts and the physical tools that made him a freshman starter in the first place. Not having Anderson's gun-slinging mentality will help keep turnovers down and the defense rested. At RB, it's unlikely one back turns into an all-league type, so a reasonable expectation is a rotation to keep fresh legs on the field and utilize their receiving potential. The wide-receivers are so solid (and Pac-10 secondaries so shaky) that they'll find ways to put up points at a similar clip to '04.

The defense comes down to schemes. OSU coaches should allow Bray & Co. to play with reckless abandon to get in the backfield; the longer opposing QBs have to pick apart the secondary, the easier it will be. The pressure's on McCullough to be able to handle receivers on an island. Still, State won't again be able to hold foes to anywhere near 29% on third-downs conversions, and since they already had a disparaging difference between total and scoring (defensive) rankings (18th and 48th), just how, when and why they stop opponents will not be for the same potent reasons as they were last year.

They aren't overly deep, but nor are they inexperienced with 16 starters back (counting special teams). Barring uncanny off-season improvements, expect only close to a similar record. Three early tilts with their toughest '05 foes will stagger the establishment of any flow, which will then slowly come through a modest conference slate. The Beavers lost all five games to top 25 opponents, and with their new QB to go along with their specific losses on defense, that won't change. The predictable nature of this campaign shouldn't dull Beaver fan's bite, for Riley will give them plenty of quality football to chew on - it just won't not be enough to dam the Dead River for extra wins.

Projected 2005 record: 6-5
QB - 3 DL - 3.5
RB - 2 LB - 3.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 3
OL - 2.5 ..

Passing: Ryan Gunderson, 16-7-0, 74 yds., 0 TD

Rushing: Ryan Cole, 80 att., 210 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Mike Hass, 86 rec., 1379 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Alexis Serna, 17-20 FG, 29-32 PAT, 80 pts.

Punting: Sam Paulescu, 72 punts, 42.5 avg.

Kicking: Alexis Serna, 17-20 FG, 29-32 PAT, 80 pts.

Tackles: Trent Bray, 122 tot., 66 solo

Sacks: Keith Ellison, 4 sacks

Interceptions: Sabby Piscitelli, 5 for 34 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Lamar Herron, 12 ret., 18.0 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Sammie Stroughter, 28 ret., 7.0 avg., 0 TD


DB Sabby Piscitelli
OFFENSE: Derek Anderson-QB, Dwight Wright-TB, George Gillett-WR, Matt Brock-C, Doug Nienhuis-OT
DEFENSE: Bill Swancutt-DE, Jonathan Pollard-WLB, Aric Williams-CB, Mitch Meeuwsen-FS, Brandon Browner-CB (NFL)

So what does Coach Riley do? He recruits experience. Transfer Matt Moore, a starter as a freshman at UCLA, has Pac-10 experience (13 games in '02 and '03) and a renewed motivation for football. The former prep all-American sat out last season in junior college, toyed with baseball and recovered from injury; still, Riley believes the 6'4" junior can step in and start immediately. Moore has great arm strength and is already working with his receivers, but for now, the first spring snaps belong to Ryan Gunderson. Don't let his 43.8 comp% fool you; the lanky sophomore never had a chance to get in rhythm in such limited action. Accuracy is his strength and he has the intelligence to excel in a wide-open Riley offense. Athletic Brian Hildebrand has the physical tools of Anderson and will fight for a back-up spot at this wide-open position; yet, Moore's leadership and ability to protect the ball give him the nod as we sit now. Expect to see both, and the competition only benefits the Beavers.

Running Back
Anemic doesn't begin to describe the nation's worst backfield that averaged 70.7 yds/gm and 2.2ypc. Blame in part suspect blocking schemes up front, as well as a willingness to put the game in Anderson's hands. Only Stanford had fewer attempts on the ground, so look for Riley to re-commit to the run to help out the new QBs. The beneficiary will be small-but-tight Yvenson Bernard, who is as tough as they come. The RS sophomore looked to be the most fluid RB a year ago but clearly had not grasped the offense. Complimenting Bernard's shifty style is Florida transfer Jimtavis Walker, a powerful runner at 225lbs whose off-field disciplinary problems put his future in question. 13 SEC games in '03 hardened this all-purpose back who has the instinct to find the endzone, assuming he can even get on the field. Developed depth is an obvious concern, but potential depth isn't, as newbies galore - of all sizes - await in the wings.

Questions at WR were more than answered in '04. First-team NC.net all-American standout Mike Hass heads a corps that's big (all at least 6'0"), deep, physical, and the clear strength of the offense. The former walk-on didn't just dominate the conference; he finished third in the nation in receptions (86) and ninth in yards (1379), despite his unassuming physique. He's not a burner, but may be the best route-runner in the country (averaged 23 per his 44 catches in 2003). The senior epitomizes the team's focus on acceleration and mechanics and will again find ways to get open, earning Biletnikoff buzz. While Hass sets records, Marcel Love will show off his versatility in the slot. The juco transfer adjusted quicker than expected, finishing third on the team in catches, TDs and yards and should expect 50+ to come his way. Switching Anthony Wheat-Brown from FS to WR last fall gave the unit a leaper and a consistent threat at flanker. A long of 35yds won't cut it though; he - like Hass already does - needs to get behind defenses to open things up for this stable of talent that will frequently go to four- and five-wide sets.

Offensive Line and Tight End
Even with senior leaders and All-Pac-10 performers, the line couldn't open running lanes or finish better than seventh in conference with 37 sacks allowed. As at RB, things seemingly will improve. Start with bookend tackles Adam Koets and Tavita Thompson, two 6'6" giants with prep pedigrees and poise beyond their years. The junior and RS freshman, respectively, have bulked up and will not be overmatched in one- on-one situations. Another RS freshman, Jeremy Perry, looks like he could join Thompson as a career four-year starter. He's both the smallest and quickest of the two-deep guards which will toughen OSU's zone-blocking schemes. Size isn't a concern. Off-season improvements should improve the line to make it among the best in conference, especially with TE Joe Newton. The junior is a dream target at 6'7" with gluey hands and his productivity (top seven in Pac-10 in yards and receptions) has forced the Beavers to rewrite their blocking-TE philosophy - other TE Dan Haines also had 14 catches, though both can lay the wood, too.

The normally run-oriented Mike Riley had to abandon that mantra to fit the Beavers' strengths (threw on 58% of their plays; 177 first-downs passing vs. 46 rushing). He kept the Beavers' offense near the top of the Pac-10 and amazingly had the league's best red-zone offense (85.7%) without a go-to back. Expect Anderson's departure to drop the passing numbers, but so too will conservative play cut down on the INTs (17). Commitment to the run will pay off and added balance makes the quick, savvy receiving corps that much more effective. The Beavers need one RB to step up; and even then, they will have to stay with it, even when stopped, so as to wear foes down and forge this new identity. Seven returning starters and solid play by Moore are reason to believe they'll be more consistent.


WR Mike Hass


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Matt Moore-Jr (6-4, 191) Ryan Gunderson-So (6-5, 226)
TB Yvenson Bernard-So (5-9, 203) Jimtavis Walker-Jr (5-10, 225)
Olaniyi Sobomehin-So (6-1, 228) (FB)
WR Mike Hass-Sr (6-1, 208) Sammie Stroughter-So (6-0, 189)
WR Marcel Love-Sr (6-0, 189) Brandon Powers-So (6-2, 213)
WR Josh Hawkins-Sr (6-1, 193) Anthony Wheat-Brown-So (6-1, 216)
TE Joe Newton-Jr (6-7, 258) Dan Haines-Sr (6-5, 257)
OT Adam Koets-Jr (6-6, 297) Andy Levitre-Fr (6-3, 330)
OG Jeremy Perry-Fr (6-2, 315) J.C. Ronnfeldt-Jr (6-4, 342)
C Kyle DeVan-So (6-2, 293) Adam Speer-Fr (6-3, 288)
OG Roy Schuening-So (6-4, 316) Gregg Peat-Fr (6-4, 290)
OT Josh Linehan-Jr (6-5, 307) Tavita Thompson-Fr (6-6, 302)
K Alexis Serna-So (5-8, 157) ..




Defensive Line
When the first ever Beaver named Pac-10 Player of the Year graduates, expect some drop-off. Without the constant attention Bill Swancutt drew, the ends will be asked to play more contain and let the push come from the veterans inside. Ben Siegert has started since freshman year and his ability to plug holes triggers the run defense. He's more athletic than wide-body Alvin Smith, who, nevertheless, is relentless in getting to the backfield, leading all DTs with six TFLs. "Sir" Henry Anderson can shed blocks and adds experience if he can resolve his academic situation by fall, a potential problem for Smith as well. DE Joe Lemma started all season but his productivity so far fails to match his playing time. Pressure off the corner will come flowing from Jeff Van Orsow. This unit held foes to 10 ground TDs and was 22nd in run defense, so we think three out of four starters - though minus a legend - will come close to these numbers again as they impact opponents' game plans with their staunch ability, still.

The LB unit is a dream scenario for any coach: a talented, game-tested senior at every spot. MLB Trent Bray punishes RBs and expects to lead the Pac-10 in tackles after falling just three short of that in '04 (122). He swarms to the ball (league-high 57 assisted tackles) but doesn't over-pursue despite his aggressiveness. As he racks up 10+ tackles every game, WLB Keith Ellison will torment the opposition in every other way. After finishing in the league's top-ten in forced fumbles (recovering two), posting a three-sack game, and leading the LBs in pass break-ups (seven) and TFLs, it's clear there's nothing he doesn't do well. The juco transfer possesses safety speed and cover skills, allowing SLB Chaz Scott to cheat up on the run. He's a brutal tackler who'll bolster OSU's prowess in rush defense, even with only a marginally dominant line. A trio of sophomores back-up the best LB corps in the Pac-10; post-season honors are likely. With the young DBs (see below), we will just see if this corps can still be what it want to in its ability to go where needed. In other words, we get a feeling they will be dropping back as nickel- and dime-packages should be the flavor of the season when things leak behind them. Practice back-peddling, guys…

Defensive Back
Arguably what was the nation's best secondary, all four OSU DB's received all-league honors after leading the Pac-10 (pass defense efficiency). Brandon Browner's early NFL declaration only further ensured this as a rebuilding year, with few returning bright spots. One is SS Sabby Piscitelli, a strong, versatile athlete who must star as the QB of the secondary. He returns after a stellar campaign in the shadow of departed Mitch Meeuwsen and looks plenty capable of repossessing his first-team All-Pac-10 spot. He'll be helped if Edorian McCullough continues the Beavers' recent trend of juco transfers stepping in right away. The junior was recruited by USC and Texas but will bring his sub-4.4 speed and shut-down cover skills to Corvallis. Sophomore Lamar Herron can play everywhere; his quickness gives him similar upside. However, without a consistent pass rush and new faces playing more conservatively, expect a significant drop from '04's 19 INTs and league best 43.9 opponents' comp %. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker is also their secondary coach (nine years), so expect a rebound here not to take as long as many might expect, but how fast it happens will go a long way toward defining the entire campaign.

As on offense, seven starters return; yet, the four departed were all key all-league performers. The '05 Beavers won't have the same speed, but they'll be bigger and tougher, thanks to their own wrecking crew at LB. This will pay off in the red-zone where statistically they were second best in the Pac-10 (71.7%) yet, only Arizona gave up more TDs (meaning they allowed big plays, so stemming that will help). For all their forced turnovers and statistical rankings, the '04 squad under-performed when it mattered. A bend-don't-break philosophy will keep scoring down, though yards could then go up. Look for the LBs to drop back early for aid in the secondary, and you will know if OSU is in trouble by how often they feel a need to go to extra DBs instead of blitz packages - the more blitzes, the more they trust and can rely upon the secondary. Great tackling and savvy leadership up the middle are enough to compensate; this mix of seniors and raw talent will surprise, again finishing in the Pac-10's top three in total defense.


LB Trent Bray


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Joe Lemma-Jr (6-3, 257) Joe Rudulph-So (6-5, 243)
DT Ben Siegert-Jr (6-4, 275) Curtis Coker-So (6-1, 304)
DT Alvin Smith-Sr (6-2, 322) Sir Henry Anderson-Sr (6-3, 314)
DE Jeff Van Orsow-So (6-4, 262) Jeremy Weldon-Sr (6-3, 277)
SLB Keith Ellison-Sr (6-2, 227) Derrick Doggett-So (6-3, 201)
MLB Trent Bray-Sr (6-1, 237) Alan Darlin-So (6-1, 252)
WLB Chaz Scott-Sr (6-2, 233) Andy Darkins-So (6-2, 233)
CB Keenan Lewis-Fr (6-1, 190) Kellen Marshall-Jr (5-11, 189)
CB Gerard Lawson-So (5-11, 188) Rickey Herod-Jr (5-10, 195)
SS Sabby Piscitelli-Jr (6-3, 224) Daniel Drayton-So (5-10, 206)
FS Lamar Herron-So (6-0, 210) Al Afalava-Fr (6-0, 180)
P Sam Paulescu-Sr (6-0, 194) Jon Strowbridge-So (6-2, 249)




Sophomore Alexis Serna deserved a comeback-player award after the PAT debacle at LSU. His response: a conference best 17-for-20 on FGAs, missing only one inside 41yds. He's a darkhorse all-American (NC.net Honorable Mention).

A JC all-American, senior Sam Paulescu starred immediately for the Beavers. He has a big leg (69yd long) and good hang-time, helping OSU finish third in Pac-10 net-punting (37.5yd/avg.)

Return Game
The explosive sophomore pair of Lamar Herron and Sammie Stroughter gives OSU certainty on returns that they lacked this time last year. Stroughter led the team in KR and PR averages (20.5, 7.0 respectively) but Herron should handle the bulk of the punt return duties with his sure hands. Even with greater speed on special teams, league worst kick coverage and return averages mean there's plenty of work to be done.