When you mention the state of Oregon, in college football circles anyway, the first thing that comes to mind is the University of Oregon and the flashy Nike uniforms and 62-6 thrashings that take place in Eugene. As good as they tend to make those uniforms look, they have yet to win a national championship after receiving lofty preseason expectations year after year.
I want to shift the focus to that other team in the state of Oregon–in Corvallis to be exact. The Oregon State Beavers are hoping to become relevant again on the national stage. The Beavers were always known as the “Giant Killers” in the early 2000s and have lost a little bit of that flare in recent years. Former Head Coach Mike Riley did some really impressive things in Corvallis but never could quite get them over the hump.
Shortly after the regular season had come to a close, Riley accepted the newly open Nebraska head coaching position in a bit of a surprise. Many fans did not approve of Nebraska’s new hire:
I know Mike Riley is a “nice guy” and all, but … Nebraska just fired a guy who averaged 9.4 wins/season and hired a guy who averaged 6.6.
— Mark Zeigler (@sdutzeigler) December 4, 2014
Everyone keeps saying Mike Riley is super-nice. Great, Nebraska just hired Ned Flanders.
— Matt Murschel (@osmattmurschel) December 4, 2014
This now meant that Oregon State had to fill its head coaching vacancy quickly. They knew that the hire had to be a good one if they wanted any shot at getting over that hump that Riley never seemed able to get over.
Within days of Riley accepting the Nebraska job, Oregon State had hired former Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen. This seems to be a home run hire as far as Oregon State is concerned.
Why is all of this relevant? Well, let me break it down like this: Oregon State has failed to have a consistent identity over the last 5 seasons. We fantasy owners all remember the 2013 season in which Brandin Cooks made Sean Mannion look like a top 5 draft pick. In 2014, however, the Beavers lacked a true identity without star wide receiver Brandin Cooks and the offense struggled. Although Mannion was still under center, the offense wasn’t the same.
The running game has been virtually non-existent since 2010 when newly signed Chicago Bear, Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 1,187 yards and 14 touchdowns. In fact, the Beavers have not had a rusher top 1,000 yards since then.
This is where Andersen can change this team drastically in 2015. As the head coach of Wisconsin, he had the nation’s leading rusher and Heisman Runner-up, Melvin Gordon. Sure, that helped the rushing numbers a bit, but the style of offense is what is most intriguing.
Andersen has stated that he is implementing an up-tempo spread offense that will give the Beavers a new look in 2015:
“From start to finish we want it to be a little bit of organized chaos, I guess,” Andersen explained. “If you just came in and watched practice, you’d say ‘holy cow, what’s going on?’ We try to challenge ourselves as coaches and players to play with a lot of pace and a lot of speed.”
I really think this is the year that Oregon State gets back to a solid ground game and I believe running back Storm Woods will have a nice senior season. However, I don’t expect Andersen to completely ignore some of the targets he has in the passing game either, mainly sophomore Jordan Villamin. Villamin is a 6’4, 235 lb wide receiver that should make great strides after having a good freshman season. The only question remains for the Beavers is, who will be the starting quarterback?
I personally think the battle is down to two players: former Alabama recruit Luke Del Rio, and true freshman Seth Collins. This will be very important to keep an eye on for fantasy owners. Collins is a dual threat QB that could potentially be a top sleeper option at QB. Del Rio is more of your traditional pocket passer. If this offense truly becomes a up-tempo spread attack, Collins could be in line for an impressive season fantasy-wise.