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Oregon State 2018 Football Preview: The Beginning of the Jonathan Smith Era

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A new era of Beaver Football begins in 2018. With the arrival of Head Coach Jonathan Smith, What will the Beavers look like in 2017?

NCAA Football: Colorado at Oregon State Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Beaver Nation would like to flush the 2017 season down the toilet. It was a constant nightmare. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. The Beavers Head Coach quit halfway through the season, the Beavers were last in the Pac-12 in Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense, and the Beavers went win-less in the Pac-12. The Beavers were also blown out by Colorado State of the Mountain West Conference, and they were absolutely destroyed by their arch-rivals the Oregon Ducks 69-10. For Beaver Nation, it was a terrible dream that thankfully ended. The entire Beaver Nation is ready to move on.

On November 29th, Jonathan Smith was named Head Coach at Oregon State. The Former Beaver Legend will have his hands full as he turns around an Oregon State team that was 1-11 in 2017. Smith believes that this current group of players are not that far off. Smith has coached against Oregon State the past four seasons as the Offensive Coordinator for the Washington Huskies. In addition, Smith has watched film on the current players, and he is familiar with some of them through recruiting.

First, lets take a look at the schedule.

Sept. 1 at Ohio State Oct.20 CALIFORNIA

Sept. 8 SOUTHERN UTAH Oct. 27 at Colorado

Sept.15 at Nevada Nov.3 USC

Sept. 22 ARIZONA Nov.10 at Stanford

Sept. 29 at Arizona State Nov.17 at Washington

Oct. 6 WASHINGTON STATE Nov.23 OREGON

Quick Schedule Analysis:

It’s a nightmare opening day game at Ohio State. It will be very difficult for Coach Smith to make his debut in the Horshshoe. However, the Beavers have a winnable game against Southern Utah, but it shouldn’t be a pushover. Southern Utah won a share of the Big Sky Title in 2017, and they have the confidence to make a statement with a major upset in Corvallis. The Beavers also travel to “The Biggest Little City in the World”(Reno) when they take on a Nevada Wolfpack team that struggled in 2017 with a 3-9 record. The Oregon State fan base had a tremendous showing in 1999 (Jonathan Smith was the starting QB for the Beavs in the 28-13 victory), that it almost felt like the game was a Beaver home game. The Beavers have a good shot of entering Pac-12 play with a 2-1 record. Additionally, the Beavers will have 5 Pac-12 home games this fall and will open at home against Arizona. The Beavers will need to turn Reser into a place of nightmares for opponents. In addition, Beavers will need to learn how to be more competitive on the road where they have lost 19 straight games dating back to October 2014.

To Preview the 2018 Beavers, I will go through position by position. Predictions and players are likely to changed based on possible roster additions, transfers and defectors of the football team.

Offense

Quarterbacks-

Projected Starter: SR Jake Luton

Luton was the starter entering the 2017 season. Luton threw for 858 yards with a 61.5 completion percentage. Luton had 4 TD passes with 4 INT. He played only in 4 games until he suffered a season-ending back and neck injury. QB Connor Blount played a little bit his Freshman season, but Redshirted in 2017. Beavers are likely to bring in two QB’s in this recruting class in 4-star Spencer Petras, and Lake Oswego’s Jake Dukart who has had an amazing Senior season. Redshirt Freshmen Aidan Willard did some good things on the scout team in 2017. Coach Smith has a great reputation with Quarterbacks and may bring in an extra guy in order to help upgrade the position.

Running Back:

Projected Starter: JR Artavis Pierce. (RB Ryan Nall and/or RB Thomas Tyner, if either return)

The major off-season questions at this position are if Ryan Nall forgoes his Senior season to go to the NFL Draft or he may become a Graduate Transfer since he graduates this winter. Nall could also stay at Oregon State. Also, Thomas Tyner could likely receive another season of eligibility due to a medical hardship as he has only played 3 seasons of college football. However, Tyner has yet to indicate if he will push for the medical waiver. If both Tyner and Nall are not Beavers in 2018 look for Artavis Pierce to take over at RB. Pierce is quick, runs hard, and has excellent vision. Also, Sophomore Calvin Tyler is promising and is excited to play for Jonathan Smith. This group is deep and is very talented. If Nall and Tyner return, or just one of them returns, this group will only get better and has another chance to live up to their tremendous potential.

Wide Receivers

Projected Starters: SO Isaiah Hodgins, JR Seth Collins, SR Timmy Hernandez or SO Trevon Bradford

Sophomore Isaiah Hodgins has a bright future for Oregon State. He displayed flashes of brilliance in his first season in Corvallis. Hodgins had 31 receptions for 275 yards and 2 TD’s. Expect his numbers to rise as QB play improves. JR Seth Collins is an interesting choice as his year ended with him getting Mono and only playing 3 games. He is eligible for a medical Redshirt. SO Trevon Bradford displayed play-making ability and SR Timmy Hernandez is a smart, tough-minded Receiver that should have a great Senior Season.

Tight End-

Projected Starter: Jr. Noah Togiai

It will be great to see what Togiai can do in Coach Smith’s system. Togiai, at his best, is one of the Pac-12 best Tight Ends. Togiai had 34 catches with 461 yards and 2 TD’s. JR Tuli-Wili Matagi is a dependable backup. Beaver commit Isaiah Smalls is an exciting young prospect that is very excited to come to Oregon State. He has been recruiting other prospects to come to Oregon State.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters:

Tackles- JR. Blake Brandel and SR Clay Cordasco or JR Keli’i Montobon( the Beavers may move a guard here so SR Guard Kammy Delp can get on the field)

Guards- SR Trent Moore and JR Gus Lavaka

Center SR Sumner Houston or SR Yanni Demogerontas

This unit struggled last season and was a major disappointment. They had a difficult time opening up holes the running game, and they had a difficult time protecting the QB. Coach Smith may bring in JC Lineman to help boost the Depth. In addition, this unit has potential to be a sleeper for most improved based on the fact that 4 starters return, and new coaching could provide a spark for this group.

Defense:

I am going to venture a guess that Coach Smith will bring in a 4-3 type defense based on his time at OSU and at Washington

Tackles-SR Kalani Vakameilalo and JR Elu Aydon

Vakameilalo and Aydon bring plenty of experience in a unit that was ranked last in scoring Defense in the Pac-12 in 2017. The Defensive Line was a weakness for Oregon State in 2017. Look for the entire D Line to get a major upgrade this offseason as depth is very thin at this position.

Defensive End- Very difficult since most of our top guys were Seniors at this position but this is a total guess. SR Lamone Williams and JR Thor Katoa or SO Jaelen Bush. This is a very thin position at the moment since the Beavers lose 4 players at this position due to Graduation. Beavers need to add depth in recruting at this position, especially in the Junior College ranks. In addition, players could be moved to Defensive End to help bolster depth.

Linebackers

Middle Linebacker-Kesi Ah-Hoy SO

Outside Linebackers- SR Bright Ugwoegbu and SR Jonathan Willis

Watch out for young talented players such as JR Shemar Smith, SO Kee Whetzel, and JR Andrez Hughes-Murray. This Group showed flashes in 2016 and in 2017, but injuries and lack of push from the Defensive Line played a part in this season’s struggles.

Secondary

Safeties- JR Jalen Moore and SO David Morris

Cornerbacks- SO Xavier Crawford and JR Shawn Wilson or SR Dwayne Williams or JR Jay Irvine

This group was very thin in 2017 that Safety Omar-Hicks Onu had to play Cornerback at times. The hope in Beaver Nation is that this group can get healthy for 2018. One benefit was that the young guys gained experience in 2017. Crawford was a Freshman All-American whose 2017 was cut short due to injuries. SR Dwayne Williams has shown flashes of star power during his career at Oregon State, but he just can’t stay healthy. Irvine and Wilson played a lot in 2017, but battled staying healthy. CB Isaiah Dunn was forced to play a lot as a Freshman due to injuries.

Bottom Line:

Everything could change now that Jonathan Smith is the new Head Coach. Smith mentioned that his Offensive and Defensive schemes are based on personnel. Smith has mentioned that he needs to re-recruit the underclassmen on the roster, along with current commits, and new prospects. There are chances players may change positions, or more walk-ons make the team to fill out the depth charts. We all know Coach Smith has a special place in his heart for walk-ons since he was once one at Oregon State. :)