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College Football Preview: 22. Oregon State Beavers

22. Oregon State Beavers

Last year the Beavers found their groove and surprisingly went 9-4 after starting off 6-0. Much of last year's surprising team returns including two experienced and talented quarterbacks. With talent everywhere and riding a wave of momentum the Beavers should continue to win even in the brutal Pac 12 North.

Backfield: Oregon State enters this year with a quarterback competition but both are experienced and both led the Beavers to success. Sean Mannion, a junior, may have the slight edge over Cody Vaz. Mannion has the better arm and
Cody Vaz
had an impressive season a year ago racking up 2,446 yards and 15 touchdowns. Though Vaz is more of a dual threat and proved to be smarter decisions than Mannion. The Beavers also have a deep stable of talented backs including sophomore Storm Woods and junior Terron Ward. Both have speed and  are elusive and should get their fair share of carries. Woods had a strong season a year ago and should be the feature back. Coach Mike Riley and staff landed a freshman who can make an immediate impact in Texas product Damien Haskins who had 52 touchdowns in his senior year in high school.

Receivers: The Beavers possess one of the most dangerous receiving threats in the Pac 12 in junior Brandin Cooks. The explosive, sure handed junior recorded 1,151 yards in 2012 and is the primary target now that Markus Wheaton is gone. Other than Cooks the rest of the receiving corps are unproven but it has the potential to have a number of threats. Junior Conner Hamlett is a massive, imposing threat who can move the chains. The 6-7 tight end proved to be a security blanket both to Mannion and Vaz, recording 32 receptions and 3 touchdowns. Mike Riley and offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf will be forced to rely on little used junior Obum Gwacham to make an impact after two catches a year ago. The good news for the Beavers is that both Ward and Woods are great and talented receivers out of the backfield.
Storm Woods

Offensive Line: There is experience and talent on this line and should be a very strong unit. Senior guard Grant Enger returns after an impressive 2012 and should play a big role in helping this ground game be a force. Left guard Josh Andrews also returns for his senior year and could continue to improve this year. Oregon State will also rely on their tackles and perimeter linemen to go up against the great pass rushers of the Pac 12. Sophomore Gavin Andrews has the potential to be a star in the future in Corvallis but he does have some growing up to do. San Clemente, California find Sean Harlow has the athleticism and footwork to make an immediate impact for Oregon State.

Defensive Line: Many of the teams in the Pac 12 (Oregon, Stanford,UCLA) have rush oriented offenses meaning this unit must step up. The Beavers do have one of the most impressive ends in the nation in junior Scott Crichton. Crichton proved to be a disruptive force throughout 2012 recording nine sacks and averaging 1.5 tackles for loss a game. He has speed off the edge and has incredible instincts. Junior Dylan Wynn should start at the opposite side and like Crichton, is a little bit undersized but has potential and is quick to the ball. Up the middle the Beavers will rely on tackle Edwin Delva who is athletic and smart. Delva, a JUCO, will also likely spend time with yet another junior Siale Hautau. Hautau is gigantic standing at 320 pounds and stuffs up running lanes. Riley also managed to land another JUCO in defensive tackle Kyle Peko who dominated at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California. Another JUCO Charlie Tuaau will compete for playing time at the end spot immediately and is a freak of an athlete.

Linebackers: The return of a number of quality linebackers and a healthy dose of freshman should also help this improved rush defense. Senior Michael Doctor returns at the weakside spot after a solid 2012. Doctor proved to be a great tackler and performed well in big games racking up 11 tackles in the Alamo Bowl loss to Texas and 10 in the victory over BYU. The Beavers also welcome back junior Joel Skotte at the middle linebacker position. Skotte didn't get much opportunities to prove what he could do last season, not getting much snaps but he has the instincts and speed to have a greatly improved '13. Junior D.J. Alexander also returns to give Oregon State some much needed experience. Riley managed to bring in two three-star commits in Darrell Songy and Michael Greer who should both get some snaps at the outside linebacker slots. Songy, from Austin, Texas, has the range and smarts to be very good run stopper for years to come in Corvallis.

Secondary: Jordan Poyer had quite the 2012 and was the leader of the defense. Talent returns in this unit but the loss of Poyer will definitely leave a huge hole. Senior Rashaad Reynolds has the potential to be an All Pac 12 cornerback this year after having an impressive season a year ago. Reynolds is athletic and loves to play psychical with receivers. The question is who will replace Poyer and senior Sean Martin is the top candidate to do that. Martin is also athletic and is a ball hawk who can be just as shutdown as Reynolds though he does struggle with consistency. Junior Ryan Murphy has size and uses it to lay consistently hard hits on opponents. Yet another JUCO commit, Steven Nelson, is rated as the number one cornerback prospect in the JUCO ranks and has the talent to make an impact right away. Four-star prospect Dashon Hunt is the most talented incoming Beaver and will be the future Poyer.

Entering his 13th year Riley's team has the talent to contend in the tough Pac 12. If either Vaz or Mannion turn out to play up to their potential the Beavers could surprise the Pac 12 once more.

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