By John Agovino, Associate College Football Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: After posting nine wins in 2008, the Beavers came into the 2009 campaign with high hopes to not only duplicate that win total, but to achieve a double-digit winning season and possible league title.
Coach Mike Riley's squad opened the year with two wins over Portland State and
UNLV, but in front of the fans in Corvallis, the Beavers dropped their next
two contests, falling to Cincinnati and Arizona. The scrappy Beavers bounced
back with two straight wins over Arizona State and Stanford to move to 2-1 in
conference action. However, even though the Beavers fought hard in their next
contest, Oregon State's comeback bid on the road against USC fell just short,
Coach Riley's bunch did not let the tough loss knock them off track, and the
team rallied and went on an impressive four-game winning streak, winning three
of those four games by double figures. At 6-2 in Pac-10 action and the 7-1
Ducks next on the schedule the rivalry game dubbed "The Civil War" took on a
bigger meaning, a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. The Beavers and Ducks battled
in what seemed to be a heavyweight boxing match, but in the end Oregon was on
its way to Pasadena and the Beavers were on their way to the Las Vegas Bowl to
square off against BYU. Maybe the missed opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl
knocked some steam out of Oregon State, because the Beavers never really got
it going against BYU and fell to the Cougars, 44-20.
OFFENSE: The biggest question mark for coach Riley this season will be finding
a starting quarterback. Over the past few seasons the Beavers used Sean
Canfield and Lyle Moevao, but this year there will be one starter. As of
now it looks like sophomore Ryan Katz will earn the spot under center.
"Ability-wise, he has a wonderful arm. He can throw all the passes," said
coach Riley. "He is pretty much unstoppable, so I don't think he'll be
intimidated by anything. He has two years of experience in the program. The
transition always provides a mystery. Jacquizz (Rodgers) and the guys are
going to have to give Ryan a lot of support, but he?s going to be good."
With the return of the Rodgers brothers, Katz will have plenty of weapons
around him. James Rodgers, the older of the two brothers hauled in 91
receptions and nine touchdowns last season, and will likely be the main target
for the sophomore signal caller in 2010. However, do not expect Rodgers to be
the only receiving threat for OSU, as Darrell Catchings should be a solid
contributor at the other receiver spot.
As for the younger Rodgers, Jacquizz is coming off another tremendous season,
racking up 1,440 yards and 21 scores. Standing at just 5-7, the junior
tailback proves big things do come in small packages, and will enter this
season as one of, if not, the best back in the conference. What will help
Rodgers, and more importantly Katz, will be a veteran front line which returns
DEFENSE: From 2006 to 2008 the Beavers racked up an amazing 130 sacks. Last
season the defense finished with just 17 sacks, so entering 2010 Oregon State
will need to pressure the quarterback if this defense is going to be
What gives OSU a chance to do just that is the return of defensive tackle
Stephen Paea. Paea, who almost entered the NFL draft last spring, was one of
the top lineman in the conference a year ago and is without question the heart
and soul of the front line.
"Stephen did the process of coming out to the NFL absolutely right. He is
relatively inexperienced in football. This is only his fifth year of football,
and there's still a lot ahead of him," said coach Riley. "He is a tremendously
hard worker to go with about as much explosiveness as I've seen out of a big
player. He's also a smart guy. He can learn what we're doing and utilize our
scheme to his ability. He's one of the best players at that position that I've
Unfortunately not everyone from last season decided to remain at Oregon State,
as linebacker David Pa'aluhi left school in the off-season to return to the
military. On top of his departure, the Beavers saw outside linebacker Keith
Pankey suffer a knee injury in the off-season. While the senior will likely be
ready to start the season, it is unclear if he will be at full speed. That
leaves Dwight Robinson as the only legitimate starter at linebacker for coach
Riley, which could be an issue throughout the season.
Last year the Beavers surrendered 23 touchdowns through the air, and while a
terrible pass rush probably contributed to the problems, the players simply
could not make the plays to keep opponents out of the end zone. That might
change this season with three starters returning in the secondary, including
safety Lance Mitchell.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Consistency is the best word to explain Oregon State's special
teams. Justin Kahut was the epitome of the word, nailing 22-of-27 field goals,
including 21-of-24 inside 50 yards. After a rough freshman season, punter
Johnny Hekker improved drastically and became very reliable at his job. Last,
but certainly not least is the older Rodgers brother, who does more than just
catch passes. Rodgers is a dangerous kick and punt returner, giving the
Beavers a game changer in its truest form.
OUTLOOK: Last year the Beavers took a very small step backwards, and even
though the team is filled with talent offensively, the schedule makers might
have put Oregon State in a very tough spot this season.
Oregon State opens its season with three very tough non-conference games
against TCU, Louisville and Boise State. The team's league slate is a bit more
manageable as the Beavers will get to host USC and Oregon. However, Oregon
State will definitely have a rough ride through one of the tougher schedules
in the country. If things go right for coach Riley and his squad, than the
Beavers could contend for the league title, but that might be a little too
much to ask of this team.