The first full season of the Gary Andersen Era at Oregon State has come and passed. A season with low expectations from the start, what should we think about how the year went, and where we will go from here?
A 2-10 (0-9) finish seems like a step back when compared to recent years. With the exception of the loss to Colorado, this is about where I expected Oregon State to finish out. There were a few surprises... and some frustration, but the big picture has to be the focus. That being said, our defense struggled more than I had expected, and our offensive line, for being the most experienced position group on the team, weren't as strong as would have been hoped. Let's break it down a bit, and look to the future!
Oh, that quarterback situation...
- This season saw three freshman quarterbacks receive significant playing time, with not a lot of success. Seth Collins was the more efficient of the three (if you could call it that) throwing for 946 yards, 6 TDs and 4 INTs while completing 52.2% of his passes. Nick Mitchell tossed for 571 yards, 3 TDs and 4 INTs completing a mere 45.1% of his attempts. Then there is McMaryion... who threw for 401 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs, completing only 40.3% of his attempts, albeit with limited action compared to the former two QBs.
- Let's not forget about Darell Garretson waiting patiently in the wings for his redshirt status to be removed! In his sophomore season at Anderson's former employer of Utah State, Garretson completed 67.4% of his passes for 1,140 yards, 8 TDs and 3 INTs... all in only 5 games.
- Nick Mitchell is leaving the program, so that is one variable removed from the equation.
- Seth Collins might be best suited as a WR/HB role much like Braxton Miller at Ohio State.
- Marcus McMaryion, while the statistics are against me here, I would say has the best raw passing ability of the three freshman this year.
- Lastly, Anderson's finally pulling in some players that fit his system. Mason Moran, a dual-threat QB out of Chandler, AZ will be joining in the QB competition at OSU for next season. Moran accounted for 2882 yds, 22 TDs and 10 INTs through the air, as well as 870 yds and 11 TDs on the ground.
Biggest (positive) Offensive Surprise...
- Is there really a question about this? Feed (Ryan) Nall the ball! He averaged 6.2 yards per carry this season, he's big, he's strong and as he put on display in the Civil War... he's got some speed!
- The big wildcard here (in my opinion) could be seeing some Seth Collins in the H-back role as I eluded to earlier ^^^
Biggest Non-QB Weakness on Offense??
- Other than at the Quarterback position, the Wide Receiving Corps is my pick for the offensive weakness of Oregon State. Jordan Villamin has shown he has some serious ability, but beyond him there was a serious drop off. Victor Bolden has underachieved, and there wasn't much production deeper in the depth chart. I know, it's hard to produce without a true QB, and for that I give them a slight pass. There were still plenty of opportunities squandered by drops, poor routes, or lack of aggressiveness.
- One positive? The entire receiver corps will be eligible to return for another season, so there is definitely room for improvement! A Victor Bolden rebound season, improvement at the QB position, and more experience for a young receiving corps has the future still looking positive.
- Still, if we are going to improve offensively, we need to be able to do more than run with Seth Collins and Ryan Nall.
- The defense showed some promise, but was obviously very inexperienced and showed their youth, giving up over 200 rushing yards per game, AND over 250 passing yards per game. Coach Sitake will make a defense out of them yet. Youth, and a scheme change can wreak havoc, and I expect big changes in productivity.
Biggest (Positive) Surprise on Defense?
- Rommel Mageo. This kid has a non-stop, fast running motor, and incredible instincts at the linebacker position. I just wish he wasn't going to be a Senior! Mageo led the team in tackles, interceptions, sacks, and forced fumbles. He was also second in passes defended. Look for him to be the heart and soul of the defense next year.
Biggest Defensive Weakness?
- The rest of the front seven (sans Mageo). Giving up over 200 yards per game on the ground, in today's spread era is unacceptable. Giving up 250 yards a game through the air in a Pac 12 conference that includes Washington State, Cal, Washington, Arizona and Arizona State...that's more understandable, and actually not all that bad when you think about it.
- I attribute this (or at least I hope) mainly to the defensive scheme shift from a 4-3 to the 3-4 and with a few players recruited to fit the scheme, this should improve.
- Incoming freshman Christian Wallace (ATH) and Shurod Thompson (S). Both are top-15 recruits in their respective positions and chose Oregon State over some big name schools (Oklahoma, Miss St, Oregon, etc.). If that doesn't excite you about the future of our defensive secondary, and Anderson's ability to recruit, I don't know what will!
Overall, it was a hard season. Gary Anderson has already proved Mike Riley wrong, by showing you CAN get premier recruits to commit to Oregon State University. The future is bright, and the Civil War gave us a glimpse at the sort of offense we could have with the right players, in the right positions. Big things are coming to Corvallis.
- Go Beavs!