Oregon St. opens the Gary Andersen era tonight at 5 PM against Weber St., from the FCS Big Sky Conference. It might be the beginning of the Seth Collins era too. Or the Marcus McMaryion era.
Its the beginning of the rebuilding of Oregon St. in the spread offense, and 3 man front defense for that matter, and also the second year of the bringing of the "Utah system" to Weber St., under Jay Hill, who played and coached for Utah, including working with and for Andersen.
It should be a good way for the revamped Beavers to get their feet under themselves in their new systems, against a Wildcat team that has recorded 3 straight 2 win seasons. It will be the game in which Oregon St. will be favored to win by the largest margin they will carry into a contest all season, and one of the few times the Beavers are likely to be favored by any margin, though results in the weeks to come will shape that.
Every since Mike Riley took the job at Nebraska last December, there's been an endless run of uncertainty and speculation and wondering about what we will see when we next see Oregon St. on the field.
Compounding the total remake of the football team, we have a new Athletic Director as well, and that will mean even more changes to the game day experience.
Virtually everyone has attempted to project what this will look like, based on Andersen's track record at both Utah St. and Wisconsin, and what we have seen in reduced opportunities to observe last spring and this summer, and on AD Todd Stansbury's stint at UCF. But while there's a lot to reasonably base projections on, there's also a lot that's still different. Tonight, we get our first look that's "for real", not scripted, and with that complication of an opponent whose' not interested in whether it puts Oregon St. in the best light spinable. The 'Cats have their own best interests to attend to.
I can't wait!
I think I have a pretty good idea of how this will look, based on those observations we do have. And I also don't think we will see some aspects of the totally overhauled OSU experience tested by what has not been one of the better Big Sky squads.
But we will probably still learn more than in any other single Oregon St. evening in a very long time.
Jordan Villamin, Victor Bolden, and Hunter Jarmon should all have a good evening, and there should be opportunities for both Storm Barrs-Woods and Chris Brown too.
The defense should fly around, and get used to not flying into each other. It shouldn't be necessary for Seth Collins to fly at all.
And the Beavers should win by a double digit margin.
Beaver Believer Believes The Keys To The Game Are:
1. Demonstrate Improved Fundamentals. One of the most irritating and fatal traits of the Riley coached teams is that they were generally very poor at tackling. They would take poor angles and when they made contact they failed to wrap up (with the exception of Steven Nelson really). I expect the new Kalani Sitake defense to execute at a much higher level. He has shown his coaching ability while at Utah, although some of their prowess is due to Ute head coach Kyle Whittingham as well. If they can start playing with a high level of intensity and don't give up free yards the defense will be solid, and they need to show this in the opening game against a lower level opponent.
2. Get the running game going. No matter which quarterback gets involved in the game he will need the support of a solid run game. The offensive line looks to be one of the strengths of the team, with their experience and talent level. With a solid stable of runningbacks as well the potential is there to really get work done on the ground, which will be necessary.
3. Get both quarterbacks in the flow of the game early. With Collins and McMaryion coach Baldwin needs to give them some easy plays to build their confidence first. Some screens should be used, easy crossing routes and possibly even some qb draws. It will be important for the future as well as this game to get the freshmen feeling positive about their abilities.
The real thing I hope to see in this Andersen era is a Beaver team that will play to the best of their abilities. OSU's inability to quash weaker opponents has been a well documented problem in the past and that is one of many things that needs changing. This year's team is certainly not going to win the Pac-12, but they can make sure they win al the games that they absolutely should. I think they start this trend with a 31-17 win."
When I was tasked to come up with "a couple of paragraphs" for my final thoughts of the 2015 OSU football opener against Weber State, the main thought I had was "I don't know if I really even have any initial thoughts for this one!"
I really feel like I imagine 98.5% of the rest of Beaver Nation does, and I just have no idea what to expect for this opener and for this season. New coach, new skill positions, new schemes, and new era.
So my questions going into this one will be basic:
1. What will the new schemes actually look like?
2. Who will be the QBs, and how will they work into this new offensive scheme?
3. Will the team and coaching staff bring a different type of feel to the team's dynamic and bonding this early in the season? Will there be any type of momentum going into next week's huge match up against Michigan?
4. How much rust and especially new system learning curve will we see?
5. How strong will the fan base turn out be to see a new era in OSU football with this insanely scheduled home opener?