Calm Before the Storm: 2018 OSU Football Overview; Fall Camp

Calm Before the Storm: 2018 OSU Football Overview; Fall Camp

By Con

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.

Grade: C

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.

Grade: A-

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…

Grade: B

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.

Grade: C-

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.

Grade: D

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.

Grade: B+

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.

Grade: D-

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.

Grade: B

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.

Grade: B-

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.

Grade: C+

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.

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Monday Morning Update from PNW Crew

Monday Morning Update from PNW Crew

By Con/PNW Sports Fans

The team as been MIA. We apologize. But what is there to really write about? Neil Olshey sucking for the third straight year? Summer MLB baseball; YAWN. Pac-12 media day? Meh.

At PNW we are still on the euphoria of shutting down TD Ameritrade, having a chariot pick us up for our victory parade in downtown Omaha towards an authentic Cuban cigar lounge. Who has it better then us in college baseball? Answer: No one!

In the next few days we will be coming out with a few previews for Seahawks 2018, OSU football fall camp and whatever Brian Braught can drum up.

As always, our info will be detailed, fans perspective, realistic and always free to everyone. We are die-hards who believe in coverage that is accurate and detailed that other die-hards will appreciate the overall picture of each program and team we cover vs the paid stuff you get or the local things that are written by people who don’t even like those teams or some unpaid high school journalist. Looking at you Danny Moran.

That being said, any suggestions or questions are ALWAYS welcomed and wanted to improve our coverage or assess certain positions or questions about players specifically. Reach out to us on twitter or our personal lives if you know… you know…

PNW Sports Fans

Notes from Omaha: Day 4

Hogs in two?

What in the world just happened? That was the most incredible sequence of events I’ve ever witnessed in a baseball game. And it was all right in front of Con and I. Wow!

  • Today the Lord led us out of the desert and away from the clutches of our enemies. We checked out of that dump in Council Bluffs and checked into a life saving oasis in Omaha.
  • The day was full of good omens. The hotel, was only the beginning. We went back to a place called Upstream. It was delicious the first night we were here, so we figured we’d try it for lunch. Saw a few members of the Casey family, met a great beaver fan that chatted us up for a bit, took a ride with an unstable Lyft driver (but she kept saying how much she hated Arkansas, so that was fine.) It was just good vibes all around. We also got a spot in the shade for the ticket line. There was something in the air.
  • “Hogs in two”. Heard that one on repeat today. Listened to a lot of fans making celebration plans.
  • We switched it up and went to right field today. It was a great choice.
  • Fans were a little more tolerable tonight, but still a lot of annoying people. One guy behind us brought up Luke again (real original) I told him what I thought about that. He actually wanted to fight me and I gave him an open invitation. Oddly enough nothing happened. So sick of jokers that think they can just say whatever disgusting remarks they want with no consequence.
  • Another frustrating game. The Beavs continued to be their own worst enemy. I believe we counted three times that the Beavers had someone on third with one out or less and something catastrophic happened resulting in no runs.
  • Another gem from the bullpen. Eisert held down the fort in a phenomenal 5 inning, 7 strikeout affair. The bullpen has saved this team during throughout their stay in Omaha.
  • Things looked pretty scary right up until the Beavs were down to their final strike.
  • Grenier had a 2-2 count with a runner on third and two outs. He popped up the pitch in foul territory down the first base line, three Razorbacks moved in for the title clinching out…
  • Thud. The ball fell harmlessly to the ground. The Beavers had new life.
  • Grenier drove in the tying run with a single up the middle. We lost our minds. A brand new ballgame.
  • Then, Trevor Larnach crushed a ball to the right field bullpen and mayhem ensued.
  • The home run happened right in front of us and we lost our minds once more.
  • And a hush fell over the once incredible Arkansas crowd. Shoutout to Chris Herb.
  • Then Mullholland slammed the door in the 9th to finish it off.
  • The Beavs live to play another day. Game three is happening!
  • Arkansas fans went dark following the game. That crowd goes from arrogant to hopeless in about the time it took for Larnach’s home run to clear the fence.
  • So… Hogs in two?
  • Go Beavs!

Notes from Omaha: Day 3

Notes from Omaha: Day 3

Day three was an interesting one to say the least. The main story is that the Beavers didn’t play very good ball and as a consequence are down 0-1 in the series. However, the good news is this club plays well when things are bleak. After all, that’s how they got to this point.

Let’s dive in:

  • We left the hotel around noon to get some much needed air and kill time before we got in line for admission. The place we went was a sports bar that was out of wings. Not good.
  • As you can see above, Connor said no to sunscreen and yes to the worst scorching of his life.
  • From there we walked to stand in line. There were far more people today. Instead of being in the first 150, we were probably 1,000 people deep. But being as resourceful as we are, we still managed to get to our spot above the left field bullpen.
  • Some Arkansas fans tried to say they had the entire row reserved. We told them what we thought of that and sat down anyway. Apparently they don’t understand how general admission works.
  • Then we proceeded to watch that entire row of hogs fans embarrass themselves for the next 9 innings.
  • They say that SEC sports fans are the most passionate. I have to disagree there. They are just the most unhealthy. We knew more about Arkansas through research than half of the fans we talked to. And they were semi surprised we knew every player on our roster.
  • One intoxicated woo boy was particularly annoying as he thought he was hilarious yelling a Nobach in left. The problem was nobody knew who “Kall” was. That southern accent just wouldn’t allow him to pronounce Kyle. So that was fun.
  • There were a lot of fans using the word “boy” when yelling down at the Beaver bullpen. And let me tell you, it definitely carries some creepy, racially charged undertones from the past with it. It doesn’t matter who your talking to or how you use it, when you stay stuff like, “we’re coming for you, boy!” It sounds pretty weird.
  • The stadium was silent when the Beavs took a 1-0 lead. Razorback fans are easily rattled.
  • To the contrary, they could not figure out why Con and I were laughing and joking the whole time even down 4-1. As usual we had the most fun at the park. Again, SEC fans aren’t as hard core as they’d like you to believe. One dude left in the 7th to beat traffic.
  • To the game. Luke was dealing for 4 innings and we really thought this would be the game he put it all together. Unfortunately he ended up losing command again and that hurt us.
  • Christian Chamberlin was lights out in relief. I love watching that kid pitch. He doesn’t flinch even when he’s up against in. He kept the Beavs within striking distance with a jaw dropping, 11 strikeouts. Glad we get to watch him for two more years.
  • The bats were actually pretty lively, they just couldn’t get runs across. Only coming up with 1 run on 9 hits is really what did the Beavs in tonight. However, not all of that was within their control. That interference call with Adley at second base was an absolute joke. The biggest disgrace of that was the fact that Larnach, who scored on the play had to go back to third. They were trying to turn two, so he would have made it home even if there wasn’t “interference.” So a run came off of the board there. Then when Grenier hit a ball down the line it was initially ruled foul. Kwan was on first and would’ve came around to score and Grenier would’ve been at second easily, if not third. Another run off of the board. That was pretty frustrating.
  • That was kind of the extent of what happened in the game. Tough loss but far from over
  • Arkansas fans were shocked when the NCAA didn’t hand them the championship trophy post game. They are so confident they are going to sweep. Looking forward to the Beavs taking the next two and ripping their hearts out.
  • Praise the Lord, we only booked this Saw themed hotel through Wednesday. Tomorrow we get to move to a place that promises to be nicer. How could it be any worse?
  • Oregon State has its back up against the wall. But it seems like that’s where this team is most comfortable.
  • Tomorrow is a new day.
  • We are working on finding a translator for tomorrow’s game. Other than pig sooie and swear words, we have no idea what is coming out of their mouths. The dialogue out here makes Last Chance U seem like it was shot on Harvard’s campus.
  • Despite the result, we had an incredible time at the park tonight. Awesome atmosphere and perfect weather. Baseball doesn’t get much better than this.
  • We give them a hard time and there are some real scum bags out here, but I should note there are also plenty of nice Arkansas fans. Both days in the ticket line, we’ve met some great people. For whatever reason, once inside, we haven’t had the privilege of sitting by any. Instead we had a guy who told me how bad our reliever was (Chamberlin). I pointed out that he actually had 11 strikeouts and he seemed to accept that as a valid argument.
  • So tomorrow, let’s hope we get to sit by some good fans in red. Or maybe not? Winning two straight might be more entertaining that way.
  • Time for bed and one more night of trying not to have nightmares about what has taken place in this room.

Notes from Omaha: Day 2

We survived night one. I mean that quite literally between some rough Lyft rides and the things I mentioned regarding our hotel last night.

Here’s the updates we have to share:

  • Our Lyft driver last night was navigating off of his phone that was laying across his lap. I was praying as we zig-zagged down the road.
  • Got some 98 cent shower flops at Wal-Mart. Best purchase I’ve ever made. It takes me back to my days in Finley Hall.
  • Woke up to rain (some foreshadowing).
  • American Airlines had some weird glitch where the prices of their flights playfully bounced back and forth, fluctuating by as much as $200 within seconds. That’s a fun game to play while looking for flights home. I think we have one figured out for Thursday.
  • Got to the stadium at 2pm to stand in line for GA seating. We were behind a group of friendly Razorback fans. Friendly, but very confident.
  • Haven’t played a game yet and have already listened to about 100 hog calls.
  • We managed to be some of the first 150 people in the park. We had front row seats above the left field bullpen.
  • Some severely simple Arkansas fans were saying terrible things to Luke when he was warming up. Several old Beaver fans were ready to jump them, I threw in a few insults that I’m fairly certain they couldn’t understand.
  • Here’s where it got good. Freshman, Kevin Abel just stared that whole group down. He said something to them, but I couldn’t make out exactly what. That crew got pretty quiet after that. But it was cool to see how tight knit that crew is. With that attitude, I want Abel on our football team. Respect to him.
  • One Arkansas fan came over to apologize for the stupidity of the people in his section. Nice guy.
  • Meanwhile it was a gorgeous evening, but the game was sent into a delay due to the possibility of a major storm. We were baffled as it looked to be a great night for baseball.
  • 5pm turned to 6, then to 7. Approximately 15 minutes after 7, it hit! Lightning strikes were all over. The rain picked up and it felt like being in a hurricane on a fishing boat for a several minutes. The field quickly puddled up with water.
  • That Thursday flight? Yeah, we just cancelled and got one for Friday.
  • About 7:45 they officially called it. Game 1 will take place tomorrow evening at 4pm PST, 6pm CT.
  • We’re off to grab some pizza and avoid the hotel for a few hours.

CWS Preview

Braught / PNW Staff

Wow! What a fun College World Series it has been. The Beaver’s two Ace’s have looked awful and far too many errors have been committed but that hasn’t mattered as the both the bullpen and offense have stepped up. Their is no quit in this team and I know half of the PNW crew never lost faith that we would be in the finals. Unfortunately, I am unable to make it to Omaha, as I have recently started a new job. But I know Con and Andy will shut TD Ameritrade down for me.

Usually when I begin researching for a new series, I look for common opponents. I did not expect to find as many but I was wrong. The Beavers and Razorbacks have had six common opponents thus far: Arizona, Cal Poly, San Diego, USC, LSU and Mississippi State.

The Razorbacks:

  • Beat Arizona 1–0
  • Lost to San Diego 7–6
  • Lost to Cal Poly 4-3
  • Won the series with USC two games to one
  • Lost the series to LSU
  • Were swept by Mississippi State in three games.

The Beavers:

  • Lost two of three to the Arizona in their early season hiccup.
  • Beat Cal Poly 16–7
  • Destroyed San Diego 23–6 & 19–6 in a late Monday and Tuesday season series
  • Won two of three from USC in late May
  • Destroyed LSU in the regionals.
  • Won two games versus Mississippi State to reach the CWS.

Altogether the Beavers went 10-3 and the Razorbacks were 4–8.

Some common pitchers in all those games are:

  • MSU’s Ethan Small, whom Arkansas got six hits and one run in six innings with six strikeouts. Meanwhile, the Beavers ran him off after 4.2 IP and seven hits for five earned runs.
  • Zach Hess of LSU went seven innings against Arkansas, giving up six hits, four walks, and four earned runs. The Beavs ran him off after 3.1 innings and eight earned runs on eight hits.
  • Kyle Hurt of USC threw seven innings against the Beavers giving up 10 hits and four runs. He threw 4.3 IP against the Arkansas giving up three hits, four walks, and one earned run.
  • Quentin Longrie of USC threw four innings against the Beavers giving up four hits, five walks, and four runs. He went 7.1 innings against the razorbacks giving up eight hits and two walks but only one earned run.

Take from those matchups as you wish.

From there, I usually begin to look at the pitchers that will be throwing. Mostly focused on starters but relievers/closers will catch my eye if they are dominate. At Oregon State we have been spoiled with killer pitchers for many years and usually other teams staff does not standout to me comparatively. But Arkansas’ does. They have legit arms.

Blaine Knight (13 – 0, 2.88 ERA) is their game one starter. The righty has thrown 106.1 innings this year and has a WHIP of 1.06 (!). He pounds the strike zone with his great command and batters only hit .226 against him. The knock on him has been his durability and is probably why he was not drafted until the third rd round. MLB Pipeline has his mid-90’s fastball graded out as a 60. His next best pitch is a slider / cutter at 55 and both a changeup and curveball graded out at a 50. A four-pitch mix with great command usually means dominance.

Game two starter will be Kacey Murphy ( 8-5, 3.16 ERA) who only threw 4.2 innings against Texas Tech in Omaha. The southpaw was the first pick on day three of the draft (11th rd) because of his command. Opponents are batting .222 against him and his WHIP is 1.04 . I was not able to find much on his mixes of pitches.

And if there is a game three, the Razorbacks will throw Isaiah Campbell (5 – 6, 4.12 ERA). The righty looked good on Friday against Florida when he gave up only two hits and two runs in five innings. He was the 109th best prospect by MLB Pipeline going into the draft but has not had the season he wanted after returning off shoulder surgery. He fell to the Angels in the 24th round. His WHIP is 1.38, which is still pretty good. Especially when you see that he has had 73K’s in 67.2 IP.

Two relievers stood out, Jake Reindl (3 -1, 2.87 ERA) and Barrett Loseke (4-2, 2.86). Opponents are hitting .191 against Barrett who was selected by the Yankees in the 17th round. Jake was selected one pick later and has an impressive 64Ks to 53.1IP.

And then I will begin to look at the other eight positions on the field. Defense is hard to gauge from stats (.972 fld%) and I usually rely on what others say there. I read that Dominic Fletcher in CF is very athletic and is a guy to keep an eye on. In terms of offense, this is quite evenly matched; which is not something I expect of many teams. Third basemen, Casey Martin, leads Arkansas with .357 average and a 1.013 OPS. Their second basemen, Carson Shaddy, has an OPS of 1.057 and a .335 batting average. Heaston Kjerstad, LF, and Eric Cole, RF and 4th rd pick, are hitting .337 and .325 respectively. As a team, they are hitting .302 on the season and are regarded as one of the top hitting teams.

And finally, how teams and players are performing recently is very important. Arkansas is quite rested compared to the Beavers because they have only played three games in Omaha. The centerfielder above, Dom Fletcher, and Casey Martin, are hitting .571 in Omaha.

Even though the Beavers have played five games in eight days, their two aces have not thrown well at all, and Kwan may not be able to play, I still think the Beavers are the favorites. The few Vegas lines I was able to find also feel the same way, somewhere between -245 to -345 for OSU to win it all. The lineup is red hot, hitting .351 in Omaha and I have a hard time believing Heimlich and Fehmel each have three straight bad games. The Beavers are also Omaha experienced and are led by one of, if not, the best coaches. I strongly feel that Con and Andy will be flying back after having shut down TD Ameritrade with a National Championship.

Grace and Peace.