|USC Legends News|
Oregon State football is either very lucky or very unlucky. It’s tough to say.
The toughest teams in the Pac-10 are making the trip to Corvallis.
The problem for OSU is that while it appears the team improved, most of the other teams in the Pac-10 have improved too. OSU’s home games won’t be easy, but they have a shot in every game.
The first home Pac-10 game is Sept. 30 against California. Despite USC’s recent dominance, I think Cal is going to be the team to walk away with the conference title. The backfield returns its two impressive running backs, Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett, and has two fairly good options at quarterback in Joe Ayoob and Nate Longshore.
Equally as impressive as the running backs are the receivers Cal boasts. DeSean Jackson is entering his second year and is capable of changing a game with his speed and playmaking.
Although the Golden Bears are a tough team, they are inexperienced on the offensive line. They have just one returning starter. It’s a safe bet OSU is going to try and attack that young group when the conference home opener rolls around.
OSU’s next home game comes just a week later when the Washington State Cougars come to Reeser Stadium.
The Cougars passing game has improved by simply returning its key parts. Alex Brink is back at quarterback and he will still have Jason Hill running routes from his receiver spot. Hill could have declared for the NFL, but instead will be back in crimson next season.
Wazzu’s biggest problem is the loss of Jerome Harrison at running back. While OSU’s running game has improved, WSU’s could be a problem. Harrison was underrated last season, but now that he’s gone, people may find out just how good he really was. That’s where OSU’s advantage in this game will be. Controlling the ball and in turn the clock.
WSU should be OSU’s easiest home game of the conference season.
After games at Washington and Arizona, the Beavers will face the vaunted USC Trojans on the Corvallis turf.
Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White are playing on Sundays, but it’s USC. They don’t rebuild, they reload. John David Booty will probably be taking the snaps, and with the amazing receiving duo of Steve Smith and Dwyane Jarrett snagging passes, he won’t have to work too hard to look good.
The running game will not be nearly what it has been the past few years when it boasted ‘Thunder and Lightning,’ but it’s going to be solid simply because of the athletes USC will plug in.
OSU’s best shot is to get on the board early and run the ball. Forcing USC to become one-dimensional and throw the ball in an attempt to come back would give OSU the chance to pull off a big upset.
On Nov. 4, Arizona State comes to town. Derek Hagan’s absence at receiver leaves a big hole in the offense, but the Sun Devils have so much talent at running back that they were able to move last year’s starting back to receiver. Derek Burgess killed OSU with a long touchdown reception out of the backfield early in last year’s contest. In the fall he will look to do the same thing from the traditional receiver spot.
Two sophomores will split time running the ball. Keegan Herring and Shaun DeWitty are tough to contain, but the lack of receivers will allow OSU to focus on stopping the run.
The other major weakness ASU may have is inexperience on defense. There will probably be only three starters on the defensive side who lined up in the same spot at the end of last year.
OSU may need to outscore the ASU offense that has the team in the top 25 before the season starts.
The final home game of the season is against the beloved Ducks. While quarterback Kellen Clemens is gone, the biggest help to OSU’s cause is the loss of Haloti Ngata at the defensive tackle position. Since OSU’s strength next year should be its running game, Ngata’s vacated tackle spot will be a big change from last year.
He didn’t start last season, but Jonathan Stewart was outstanding last year. He could actually improve the Ducks’ running game.
One area the Ducks certainly haven’t improved is the secondary. Of the four guys that created turnovers at an impressive clip last season, only the free safety J.D. Nelson is back.
The offense could be dynamic, but the defense is nowhere near where it was last season. OSU will have to put up a lot of points to get redemption for last season’s loss.
OSU has improved many positions, including a few on the coaching staff. Most notably due to the recent addition of long time Linfield coach Jay Locey.
While the Pac-10 is tough, no team is without its flaws. The Beavers have improved and are capable of beating anyone with the right game plan and a few good breaks.
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