If you haven't already noticed, CV3000 made his "epic comeback" last night. He now returns to full stride with a preview of the offense:
First, the bad news: According to Coach Riley on Thursday, Perry will not start against Stanford. He's still rounding into shape, and we'll see him increasing his playing time as the season goes on. His knee has been bugging him since the surgery he had in the Spring, and he really hadn't started running until Fall Camp started. I wouldn't worry too much--he still has something to prove to NFL teams if he wants to get drafted in the 1st round, like many draft boards project. I expect that he'll be riding the bike during the week to pump up his fitness and playing on Saturdays, starting with the game at State College--in BEAVER Stadium.
The rest of the offensive line is possibly on the smaller side, but decent in the starting 5 (upgrade them to 'strong' with Perry). Linnenkohl will start at Stanford, but Marcus Henderson will be back in the lineup in the next two weeks. Coach Cavanaugh says that Andy Levitre is the best offensive lineman he has ever coached--and he will be one of the top tackles in the country this year. Speer, Peat and Pohl all have experience at guard. Mike Remmers is the "weak" link at right tackle, but he's decent--he does well against Victor Butler in practice--and he's won the job over some pretty good athletes, like Una Smiley and Wilder McAndrews (who was a high school hurdler, if you can believe that!). In a perfect world, Remmers would have an extra year behind Tavita Thompson, but this situation has been known all the way through Spring--and it shows with how seriously Remmers' took his summer preparation. The coaches are going to keep a tight end or a back in protection to help block on passing downs at Stanford, just to give some extra help. If Remmers doesn't need help at Stanford, then he won't need help anywhere--they're one of the top pass rushing teams in the nation.
There's probably only 8 offensive linemen who are truly ready to play at the Pac-10 level--and 6 of the 8 can play multiple positions, so the depth should be fine to compensate for any injuries to the interior positions. Also, once Tavita Thompson gets back, there's 4 seniors in the main starting line. They will be very, very good in the last 5 games.
It's pretty well-established that this year's offensive capabilities will be different than last year's team. Lyle is 20 pounds lighter, moving better, throwing better and making better decisions--especially in the redzone. He's also shown us in practice that he has very good timing on the angle throws to the post and corner routes to the intermediate receivers running underneath of the streak routes. He's just a different player now. I'm kind of shocked by how much less coverage Lyle's improvement gets as compared to the status of the backup QB's bum shoulder. Engstrom will do fine, and he runs a 4.6 40 now (yes, that would make him one of the 5 fastest ducks).
Sammie Stroughter is back. This can't be said enough. Last year, not having him going into Fall was supposed to be a reason that the Beavers were going to be horrible and not win many games. Hmmm--now that he's back, nobody seems to think that adding an All-American receiver is going to make any difference. That's an amusing dichotomy that should make anyone laugh. Last we checked, no other Pac-10 team ADDED a threat as proven as Sammie--and it's really not even close. TNT, baby!
Running back is plug-n-play at Oregon State. No team in the Pac-10 has had as many 1000 yard rushers over the last decade. In the last ten years, the average first-time starter has gained 1205 yards on the ground in their first season. Great running back are an expectation here. If you believe internet recruiting sites, they will tell you that Ryan McCantsStopHim was the "#10 in the nation" running back--even while breaking a bone and missing the middle of his senior season (he was able to come back for the last game, I believe). Well, guess what? All that he's done since then is gain 25 pounds and honed his skills against the #1 rushing defense in the country for a year. He's 6'1", 240lbs. and has enough speed to run outside. The OSU defense has said that McCants was the most difficult running back to defend against that they faced all of last season. It wasn't exactly the most impressive group of running backs in the conference last year (Forsett, Stewart, Rankin?), but that's still saying something.
Jacquizz is electricity with the ball in their hands. He's shown us more moves in Fall ball than most players have in their career. I'm already tired of hearing that Jacquizz is small. He's short, but he's 195lbs. He's more solidly built than is possible for most people to understand and he's 10 pounds heavier than Reggie Bush, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ken Simonton, Darren Sproles, Noel Devine, Jahvid Best, Joe McKnight, James Rodgers, etc. in their freshman year--better high school resume, too (though Jones-Drew is similar). It would be stupid to bet against this kid being wildly successful.
James had about 800 yards from scrimmage last year, and basically led the nation in yards per carry. The only limitation to his production seems to be how often they can get the ball in his hands. We'll see James and the team executing better on flysweeps this year, but opposing defenses will also have some interesting wrinkles for it. I'm not sure if that matters. By the end of the season, teams had plenty of videotape to figure something out. The last two teams the Beavers played last year looked worse than any other against James, and couldn't stop him--not even when they knew what was coming. That's the sign of a great play and a great player. I'm not sure why the flysweep couldn't be run 10 times a game.
As great as Yvenson Bernard was, it's hard for me to imagine that the combination of Quizz Rodgers and Ryan McCants won't be much more prodcutive. James, Quizz and Sammie can beat any Pac-10 defender in space; they have shown us the moves, speed, and vision to take it to the house on any given play. Catchings, Croom, and the other tight ends will have their yards, but the main thing is that there's 4 offensive players who nobody should be surprised by the possibility of them gaining 1,000 yards from scrimmage this season. It's obviously unlikely to expect that all 4 of them will, but there's no reason to think that any of them can't.
Looking around the conference, it's hard to see another team with similar firepower.
It will be the most improved offense in the Pac-10 as long as there is blocking.