I'd like to take a moment to bring in The Oregonians' Jim Beseda for a few questions. Jim is one of the outstanding Beaver Beat writers around, and you can visit his blog here. Without further ado:
Building the Dam: At this point in the off-season, what is your perspective on the quarterback situation? You've more than likely been exposed to more information than any of us have. What is your opinion? I'm almost convinced that Matt Moore will get the starting job to start the season, but what are the chances for Gunderson and Canfield?
Jim Beseda, The Oregonian: Almost convinced? Matt Moore is the starter, unquestionably. Matt has almost everything you want in a starting quarterback. He's athletic, charismatic, tough, and he wants to do whatever he has to do to win. One of the knocks on Matt last season was his decision making that led to some avoidable sacks and interceptions. Now that he has a full year under his belt in the system, I'm guessing he'll be more comfortable with the offense and that should translate into better decisions, which should translate into fewer sacks and fewer interceptions. Then again, maybe his decision making is truly flawed and last season's mistakes weren't the byproduct of a new quarterback still learning the system. Maybe Matt will again approach the single-season interception record. But I'm thinking that won't be the case. ... I believe Sean Canfield will be listed second on the depth chart heading into fall camp and will be the primary backup when the regular season begins. Could he challenge Moore for the starting job? I doubt it. Moore would have to fall completely on his face. Canfield has all the physical tools to play the position, but Coach Riley has asked more than once, "Does he have what it takes to orchestrate a team?" I also wonder how he would respond in "live" action, say, with Louisville's Elvis Dumerville breathing down his neck. I could see Canfield getting a few snaps late in some games to get him some experience, but as long as Moore stays healthy, I don't anticipate Sean getting significant playing time. ... Ryan Gunderson is third on the depth chart and probably would only be used in case of an emergency -- as in injuries to both Moore and Canfield. Other than that, I guess Ryan's most significant action perhaps will be in leading the scout team.
BTD: With Yvenson back at running back, Marcel Love, Wheat-Brown and others at Wide Receiver, and Joe Newton at Tight End, what do you see coming out of our backs and receivers this season?
Beseda: Nobody is going to replace the things Mike Hass used to do in terms of number of catches and number of big plays. In fact, I'm not sure which receiver will emerge as the team's "deep threat," although my guess in Anthony Wheat-Brown is among the favorites heading into fall camp. Still, nobody in the current group of receivers can catch the ball as consistently as Mike caught it, particularly on deep balls, which is why I would be surprised to see shorter balls going mostly to Joe Newton and Yvenson Bernard with the occasional deep ball thrown in to keep defenses honest. At this point, Joe and Yve would have to be considered the favorites to be the team's top two receivers in terms of total receptions. Ruben Jackson is another guy who has show an ability to gain yards after the catch, but so far has seemed to have only scratched the surface of his potential. Is he ready for a breakout year? And how will Marcel Love respond after a year off? Still lots of questions to sort out regarding the receivers before Eastern Washington come to town.
BTD: What two players (one from each side of the ball) do you think will impress or surprise Beaver fans most this season?
Beseda: On offense, Joe Newton will impress, but that's no surprise. The ball doesn't have to be thrown right on the mark for Joe to make a catch, and he'll probably turn poor throws into receptions at least two or three times a game. On defense, either Ben Siegert or Joe Lemma. Somebody has to do something to start putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks (last season, the Beavers made that Arizona freshman look like a Heisman Trophy candidate, he had so much time in the pocket), and Siegert and Lemma are in positions where they're probably going to help dictate how much heat the Beavers will put on other QBs.
BTD: The entire medium of sports journalism seems to be changing, with the boom of the internet and electronic information distribution. Some people say that the newspaper is a dying medium. What are you and everyone at the Oregonian doing to thrive in this new environment?
Beseda: The business is evolving quickly, but I disagree that the newspaper is a dying medium. More people go to the Internet for information, but there are still those who want to read newspapers in the traditional form. The Oregonian is making a effort to reach more readers through the Internet, and like Ruben Jackson, I think we're only beginning to scratch the surface of our potential in the area. I know there is talk of streaming video interviews and other features that are too elaborate and complicated for me to explain, although I'll probably have to be able to explain it before too long, because they'll probably be asking me to do more of it. Bottom line, though, regardless of the medium, there is probably always going to be a need for sportswriters to drive to Corvallis, watch sporting events, and report what they see accurately and in depth to interested readers. And as long as that holds true, I figure The Oregonian will always be able to find something for me to do.
BTD: Many journalists have expressed a certain amount of fear towards blogs and the explosion of the "blogosphere." How do you think blogs fit into the media landscape? What role can they play? Should they play? Do you read any blogs?
Beseda: The problem with blogs is that some writers don't always adhere to what I think of as common rules of journalism. In some cases, that can be a good thing, because some writing is more entertaining when the writer steps outside the usual boundaries. But often rules are ignored, and when that happens, it threatens the integrity not only of the writer, but if he/she writes for The Oregonian, it also threatens the integrity of the brand. Some people hear the word "blog" and figure they have the freedom to express themselves in ways that they might not be able to in print. That is true to a certain extent, but I still believe there are lines that a responsible journalist should never cross. Again, it's a medium that is evolving. My opinions regarding blogs are different from the views I had six months ago, and I can't imagine what I might be thinking come December, but I'm guess it will help make for an interesting ride.
BTD: Thanks, Jim, for taking the time out of your day to talk to us. Keep up the good work at The Oregonian.
(Hat Tip: BON)