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Inside the Pac--a look at the OSU Beavers for 2002
Watch out for their defense
By: Malamute, 25 June 2002

During the spring game, the OSU defense showed itself to be the strength of the team for this upcoming season. That's not surprising for a defense that finished third in total defense in the Pac-10 last season and for one that returns eight starters. 

That's the good news.

On offense, all-everything-to-be Derek Anderson (6-6, 234) replaces Jonathan Smith at quarterback. It's at the quarterback position where the 2002 Beavers could suffer, at least until Anderson and his backups come up to speed. On the plus side, Anderson has a strong arm and great potential. 

During the spring game, he threw 30 passes, completed 7 and had 3 intercepted. Those stats correlate with his record from last season in the Pac-10, where he played in 6 games and was 41-17-3, finishing with a lowly 88.73 efficiency rating and a 41.3% completion record. Obviously, he' s on a learning curve, his latest inauspicious debut considered. He's backed up by two sophomores, Adam Rothenfluh and Ryan Kanekeberg.

During the spring game, the teams being evenly divided from a quality standpoint, Anderson's team (the Whites) supposedly had the edge due to his experience. The Blacks beat them 23-0, led by backup quarterback Rothenfluh, who passed for one touchdown, going 11 for 17 and 108 yards. Junior tailback Steven Jackson (6-1, 226) ran for one touchdown and had 18 carries for 73 yards. He has the unenviable task of replacing Ken Simonton, who finished seventh in Pac-10 rushing last season (88 yards/game). Simonton is the Beavers' all-time scorer (312 points).

Dwight Wright (5-8, 200 pounds), who backs up Jackson, will give the Beavers a different look at running back when he steps into the fray. He had a 51-yard burst in the spring game.

The secondary had four picks in the game, establishing itself as a formidable weapon for the forthcoming battles the Beavers will fight against their 2002 Pac-10 rivals. OSU led the league in pass defense last season.

With Anderson (just a sophomore) at the helm, the Beavers will suffer a big drop off in experience--having lots of experience at QB, being so crucial, seemingly, for a teamís success in the Pac-10 derby. In nine of the last ten years, a senior quarterback has led his team to either the Pac-10 title or to the Rose Bowl game.

Table 1. The following helmsmen, all but one being a senior at the time (Leaf), led their teams to either the Rose Bowl game or to the conference championship game (Harrington, Fiesta Bowl 2002).

Quarterback Year Where he's at now
Joey Harrington, UO 2002 Detroit
Marques Tuiasosopo, UW 2001 Oakland
Todd Husak, Tree 2000 Denver
Cade McNown, UCLA 1999 Miami
Ryan Leaf, WSU 1998 Seattle
Jake Plummer, ASU 1997 Arizona
Brad Otton, USC 1996 ?
Danny O'Neil, UO 1995 Arena Football
Wayne Cook, UCLA 1994 ?
Mark Brunell, UW 1993 Jacksonville

Offensively, the Beavers return just two members of its offensive line from last season; however, they are big, as is the rest of the line. Although he didn't start in any games, we list Kanan Sanchez as a starter because he played a significant role last season (see Table 4).

Senior Shawn Kintner and Junior Kenny Farley join returnee James Newson (88 yards/game in Pac-10 last season) at wide receiver. In the spring game, Kintner caught 2 passes for 22 yards; Farley was 3 for 67 yards; and Newson went 6 for 80 yards.

The starting defensive line--Noah Happe, Eric Manning, and Dwan Edwards--returns as a unit; they combined for 100 tackles last season.

Starting safety Jake Cookus has departed, leaving JC transfers Lawrence Turner and Brandon Catenese (two picks in the spring game) to battle for his vacated spot. 

Starting cornerbacks Dennis Weathersby and Terrell Roberts return; they finished in the upper echelon of the "Passes Defended" category in the Pac-10 last season, with 16 and 14 respectively. 

The Beavers' higher echelons decided not to defenestrate QB Jonathan Smith, and wisely so. He'll be around as a graduate assistant to help with the tutelage of Anderson, who will need to come up to speed quickly.  

According to Coach Dennis Erickson, "It was a great spring for Oregon State football. We made a lot of improvement from the start earlier this month (April) to this scrimmage, and that is what you really look for."

We summarize some of the ups and downs that could affect OSU for next season. 

Table 2. On the upside

Upside Item Comment
Some stars return Back are DT Eric Manning, LB Richard Seigler, CB Dennis Weathersby, WR James Newson
Look out for RB Steven Jackson, CB Terrell Roberts, QB Derek Anderson, LB Nick Barnett, and WR Jayson Boyd
The Beavers' defense is its strength The defense dominated the action during the spring intra-squad game
Dennis Erickson is a winner and a motivator  He's 23-12 with the Beavers. "Getting to people and knocking the crap out of them. That's going to be our M.O.," says D.E.
The Beavers return a nice mix of players Seven on offense, eight on defense and two specialists
The Beavers are lightening fast at Reser Stadium It's the only stadium in the Pac-10 with Astroturf and the Beavers know how to turn on the jets--"besides knocking the crap out" of people.
OSU is working on a home-field advantage Under Erickson, OSU is 10-2 at home against Pac-10 opponents. At the spring game, over 10,000 fans were in attendance.
The Beavers were third in total defense (Pac-10) last season... And eight starters return on defense, 4 seniors, 3 juniors and 1 sophomore.
Although it's young, the OSU offensive line is huge. Both offensive guards, Mike Kuykendall (6-6) and Kanan Sanchez (6-4), are around 335 pounds. Center Matt Brock weighs 297. RT Doug Nienhuis is 6-6 and 291. Backup RT Isaac Aronson is 6-7 and 320.
The Beavers' red-zone defense will "improve" Although they finished 9th in this category last season, the Beavers' opponents were inside the red zone a paltry 25 times, the lowest in the league.

Table 3. On the downside

 

Downside Item Comments
Eighth in total offense last season The Beavers will be hard pressed to improve on this statistic, considering the loss of Simonton and Smith.
Derek Anderson sputtered at QB during the spring game This may be due to an off day and does say something about the Beavers' defense. However, Anderson and his backups are still learning and that will be an overall weakness for the Beavers.
Only two members of the offensive line return The Beavers finished 7th in the Pac-10 in rushing offense last season
Need to improve field-goal percentage Returnee Ryan Cesca made just 62.5% of his field goals in 2001. He was All Pac-10 as a sophomore. 
No statistical leaders return on offense Inside the Pac-10, WR James Newson is the only statistical leader returning on offense.
Tough Pac-10 schedule In a span of three consecutive weeks, the Beavers face USC (at the Coliseum), UCLA at home, and ASU at Tempe. 
Key losses  The Beavers will miss QB Jonathan Smith (5th total offense in Pac-10), RB Ken Simonton (88.3 yds/g), OC Chris Gibson, and LB James Allen (6.5 tackles per game)

Table 4. Returnees on offense
Player Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt.
James Newson FL JR. 6-1 197
Seth Trimmer WR SR. 6-5 206
Cole Clasen WR SO. 5-8 185
M. Kuykendall OG SR. 6-6 334
Kanan Sanchez OG SO. 6-4 335
Tim Euhus TE JR. 6-5 238
 

Table 5. Returnees on defense

Player Pos. Yr. Ht. Wt.
Noah Happe DE Jr. 6-5 237
Eric Manning DT Sr. 6-1 295
Dwan Edwards DT Jr. 6-3 301
Nick Barnett SLB Sr. 6-2 221
Richard Seigler MLB Jr. 6-3 225
Terrell Roberts CB Sr. 5-10 199
Mitch Meeuwsen FS So. 6-3 211
D. Weathersby CB Sr. 6-1 206


Table 6. How key returnees did in the Pac-10 in 2001

Player Category Pac Stat
James Newson Receptions/game 3rd 5.18
James Newson Receive yds/g 4th 88.0
M. Meeuwsen Interceptions 10th 3
Josh. Hawkins Punt return avg. 10th 6.4
Carl Tobey Punting 6th 39.2
Ryan Cesca Scoring (kick) 9th 5.4/g
Ryan Cesca Field Goals/g 6th .91
Ryan Cesca Field Goal Pct. 62.5 9th
Ryan Cesca PAT Kicking 100% 2nd, w/29 attempts
Richard Seigler Tackles  5th 8.5/g
M. Meeuwsen Tackles 29th 5.3/g
Noah Happe Sacks 9th 7
Richard Seigler Tackles for loss 5th 16.0
Noah Happe Fumbles forced 3rd 3
M. Meeuwsen Fumbles recvd 1st 4
D. Weathersby Passes defended 5th 16
T. Roberts Passes defended 8th 14

Table 7. OSU's Offensive Statistics in Pac-10, 2001

Category Finish
Scoring Offense 9th
Pass Offense 6th
Turnover Margin 8th
Rushing Offense 7th
Total Offense 8th
Pass Efficiency 9th
First Downs 7th
Fourth-down conversions 3rd
Red Zone Offense 3rd
Third-down conversions 8th
Sacks Against 3rd
Time of Possession 4th
Average Finish 6.25


Table 8. OSU's Defensive Statistics in Pac-10, 2001

Statistic Finish
Scoring Defense 5th
Pass Defense 1st
Rushing Defense 9th
Total Defense 3rd
Pass Efficiency Defense 4th
Opponent first downs 3rd
Sacks By 6th
Opponent 4th down conversions 2nd
Red Zone Defense 9th
Opponent 3rd down conversions 2nd
Sacks Against 3rd
Average Finish 4.27


Table 9. The Beavers' 2002 Schedule

Date Opponent
August 29 Eastern Kentucky
September 5 at Temple
September 14 UNLV
September 21 Fresno State
September 28 at USC
October 5 UCLA
October 12 at Arizona State
October 26 California
November 2 Arizona
November 9 at Washington
November 16 at Stanford
November 23 Oregon

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