Fall camp is upon us. The weather is turning already, thanks Oregon…I walked into work today with a morning mist on my face and a breeze in the air. The time has come. The Return.
This will be some quick comments and overview of each position group and key players to watch out for. Let us know your thoughts and what you are looking out for or want us to report on more.
Offense: We will be watching the creativity and play calling closely. Coaches are preaching: “we will do what fits our personnel.” However, we don’t know and I don’t know if the coaches know what that means yet. With questions on our o-line, will OSU be able to run the ball? Protect the passer? It all starts up front. A good o-line can hide a lot of other issues and make everyone better. However, it can go the other way just as easily with a bad one.
QB: Our pick to start is Jake Luton, but end of the year Conor Blount. I don’t see JS being afraid to yank a guy after a few games or mid game. Despite what other reporters say, Luton is NOT a statue behind the line. He can scramble a bit. Not like Blount but he isn’t inept. Will be interesting how much read option game OSU really runs. See JS at UW…basically ran a fake read option with Jake Browning for the past three years and Browning maybe kept the ball 5 times a year and still produced. Luton could be in that same mold. Blount seems to be a gamer and a gun slinger. Luton safer pick but Blount could be the playmaker and leader the offense needs.
RB: Arty has this locked up and for good reason. Seems like a stouter Yvenson Benard. Look for him to have a big year and many touches out of the backfield and carries. JS has also mentioned Calvin Tyler consistently as someone to look out for. Kick returns, third downs Tyler could showcase. Chrisitian Wallace wildcat package. Mark my words.
WR: Timmy, Trevon and Hodgins look like locks to start. Kolby Taylor will be a regular guy and can go over the middle and take a hit. Has been mentioned by JS many times. Champ Flemmings will be used in different packages, Tino Allen on kick returns and punts. Walk on Andre Bodden is a stud and big time special teams contributor who could get some time. Mentioned by coaches a handful of times. Need a QB to get these guys the ball on time and in the right place. Watch out if that happens…
TE: Help us. Togai returns but is crazy overrated. Can’t stay on the field with injuries and has not proven to be consistent at all. He gets the praise because it has been years since OSU has had a solid tight end for multiple years. Quin Smith could make an impact here as a reliable, Colby Prince type option. JS commented how much OSU just needs bodies at this position. Isiah Smalls will have the opportunity, see if he takes it.
OL: So many question marks and yes experienced players but not Pac-12 caliber proven! Blake Brandel will be a stud, but one great OL hardly can carry a Power 5 O-line. Center position is wide open. Lavaka way out of shape, hopefully Jim M. can work his magic. Look for #65 Onesimus Clarke to grab a spot. He was promising as a redshirt, has gotten in shape and has some stuff. Jim M. is high on Hawaii transfer Kipper, but he must sit out. #55 Keli’i Montibon JC transfer last year was praised. Looks to be in great shape and athletic.
Special Teams Return/Kicker:
Jordan Choukair should be an honorable mention all Pac-12 player. Tino Allen, Trevon Bradford, Calvin Tyler, Christian Wallace, Champ Flemmings all in the mix for return touches. Look for Calvin Tyler on kickoffs as primary option. Coverage on kickoffs should be interesting with the new redshirt rule. I want Matthew Tago running down as wedge buster. Our boy Kee will be on it no doubt. Andre Bodden, Trajon Cotton, Omar Hicks-Onu, Jordan Gregory, DeShon Wilson are some names to watch on kick coverage.
Defense: Tim T. seems like a guy with a plan to get FAST guys on the field. Sideline to sideline coverage has been a GLARING issue for OSU since 2007 defense led by Derrick Doggett, Joey LaRouqe and Alan Darlin at LB’s that carried OSU. Key will be to make this defense simple. Players connected to PNW Sports Fans harped for years how Mark Banker had more than 2,000 plays in the defensive playbook, Kalani Sitake wasn’t organized and Kevin Clune refused to send blitz packages or trust guys to make plays. The common theme with every coach according to players was too complex of systems where guys didn’t know the right plays or places to be and were too concerned with learning them instead of playing free, fast and fiery. Will be interesting to see the pressure Tim T. cooks up for QB’s. I think the last time OSU landed a real sack on first contact and solid hit was back when Robo Duck existed down south…
DL: ELU HOW DO YOU WEIGH 380 POUNDS??? MORE THAN 40 POUNDS FROM 2017??? DIDNT KNOW HUMAN LET ALONE A D1 FOOTBALL PLAYER COULD ACHIEVE THAT AND STILL MOVE.
On a real note, Kalani V. seems to have one DL position locked down and JC transfer Jeromy R. another. Walk on, RS Frosh Jalean Bush will make an impact ala Slade Norris in 2007. He can get off the edge, is long and can hold his own physically. Other then those 3 guys, so many unproven, D-1 questionable guys. I am sure Tim T. knows this could be an issue and will play MANY 2 down lineman packages.
LB: Looks to be athletically in good shape here. Shemar Smith, Doug T. and Jonathan Willis will man the inside positions. Willis must show leadership here or he will get pulled out. Matthew Tago might be candidate inside or outside. Emony Robinson could contribute on special teams or in rotation.
Kee Whetzel will anchor us outside. He is fast, strong and sideline to sideline cover. Brings the juice and dance on top of that. He will be a candidate for All Pac-12 award if OSU turns in a solid defensive year. Hamiclar Rashed will not be far behind. He is a little bigger then Whetzel but brings it. Look for him and Kee to be dancing in some backfields this year. Bring back the pat down please. Andrzej Hughes-Murray will get plenty of time. True frosh John McCartan and Isiah Tufaga could get some looks. Both have been mentioned by coaches as body ready for this season. Look for nickel packages to be brought in a lot to get best defensive guys on the field at a much deeper position at DB.
DB: Even with the loss of Xavier Crawford, OSU looks to be in decent shape at DB. David Morris, Jalen Moore, Omar Hicks-Onu, Jeffrey Manning are great candidates at safety and nickle positions. Morris should have strong year and Jalen Moore could get some great attention heading into his senior year next year. At corner, Dwayne Williams when healthy is a great option, Shawn Wilson, undersized but a fighter, Jay Irvine could be big. PNW has their eye on two guys that could be great corners for OSU for a long time… Isiah Dunn and frosh DeShon Wilson. Dunn has GREAT instincts and sticks guys right after the catch and in space. Fights well with his hands and has good size. DeShon Wilson has brought the stuff from Day 1 of spring ball. He is a true freshmen with a senior’s body. Has the size and speed to be a great corner for OSU. Would have probably played regardless of new redshirt rule this year. We will be watching both those guys closely not just on defense but for years to come as team guys and leaders.
Special Teams Punting/Coverage
Alex Bland our would be starting punter just left school. That leaves walk on Daniel Rodreguiz as likely starter. DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS POSITION. Remember when the ghost of Kyle Loomis haunted OSU punting for three straight years until Johnny Hekker saved us? Alexis Serna god bless his soul, tried but was put in a bad spot and it HURT OSU and caused so many field position battles to be lost and put defense in bad spots. OSU cannot afford that this year if they want to be competitive.
Coverage looks to be solid with Andre Bodden, Jalen Moore, Matthew Tago, Shemar Smith, Drew Kell, Jaydon Grant and Justin Gardner some names to look out for on punts. OSU has always been solid in their coverage game with some big hitters and limiting returns on punts and kicks.
Coaching will be the difference instantly if OSU is competitive this year. With virtually the same roster and arguably and uptick in effort based on who is starting, it will be a good gage to evaluate this coaching staff. Do players quit? Give up in games? Play one half? Do coaches drop unknown F-Bombs in their last press conference as a head coach? YEAH LOOK IT UP GARY ANDERSEN POST GAME VS USC WHEN HE TALKS ABOUT MISSED FIELD GOALS…
Should be an interesting year. Go Beavs.