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With an improved offensive line and a stable of running backs, I think OSU’s offense is going to gear down into a more run-first attack this season, and some of the pressure will come off the QB's.
In 2011, OSU lived and died by the pass. In 2012 the pass set up the run. In 2013, I think the run sets up the pass and the Beavers find a way to re-introduce the jet sweep – effectively – and to gain more from the play action pass.
My feeling is Oregon State has two capable QB's and while they are still likely to garner most of the attention from media and fans this spring and offseason, I think the top storyline this spring is something far different…
Defensive tackle, with a bullet.
The senior starters from last year, Andrew Seumalo and Castro Masaniai, have departed. But theoretically, these guys should not be impossible to replace, right? It's unlikely that either one will be playing in the NFL in 2013. And the Beavers signed 4 junior college DT's who were all fairly highly touted so.. no problem right?
Edwin Delva, Siale Hautau, Kyle Peko and Lyndon Tulimasealii will be able to fill the void, yes?
Sure. Except that traditionally speaking, JUCO d-tackles don't make instant impacts.
Let's take a look at the top ranked JC DT's of the 2012 class and what they did last season -- because we're talking instant impact. Here are the consensus top 10:
1. Tavadis Glenn, Miami. The reincarnation of Simi Kuli. DNQ
2. Damien Jacobs, Florida. Played in 3 games, 10 tackles, 3 sacks.
3. Daniel McCullers, Tennessee. Played in 12 games, 39 tackles, 1 sack, 5.5 TFL. Of note: He is 6-8, 380 pounds.
4. Darrington Sentimore, Tennessee. Played in 12 games, starting 9, 18 tackles, 4 sacks, 5 TFL.
5. Calvin Barnett, Okie State. Played in 13 games, 30 tackles, 1 sack, 8 TFL.
6. Logan David, Texas Tech. Also playing football somewhere alongside Simi Kuli. DNQ.
7. Brandon Moore, Texas. Played in 12 games, 5 starts, 18 tackles, 2 sacks, 8 TFL.
8. Mike Pennel, Arizona State. Played in 3 games, had 3 tackles. Was suspended three times for 8 games over the course of the season by Todd Graham.
9. Stetzon Bair, Oregon. Redshirted.
10. Joey Searcey, Baylor. The third member of the 2012 Simi Kuli Crew, DNQ.
See a pattern? Junior college defensive tackles by and large don't make big impacts their first year. Out of the top 10 junior college defensive tackles from last year's class, the pair that went to Tennessee ended up being productive right away. Everyone else? Not much to write home about.
Note that McCullers is very nearly simply just too large to fail. Calvin Barnett and Darrington Sentimore both turned in nice seasons, and Brandon Moore deserves some mention. But the conventional wisdom on junior college players is this: "If you need immediate help, you go to the junior college ranks." These three proved to be the exception, not the rule.
That's a pretty high non-impact rate for the 10 best prospects in the country at a certain position.
It could be argued that McCullers and Sentimore benefited from playing alongside each other and I might even bite on that point, but there were a number of guys who just simply weren't as-advertised when they got to the college level. Pennel at Arizona State faced multiple suspensions which kept him from being able to show off his skills, but he had already been passed up on the depth chart by a true freshman.
WHICH ISN’T SO bad if you have depth, but even more concerning from this chair is the departures of a dependable reserve in Joe Lopez, and a talented young player in Desmond Collins, who was expected to be in the rotation for the 2013 season.
Consider that for a moment. Two senior starters leave the program and two more reserves who were either highly regarded or were somewhat seasoned are gone, too.
And this is at a program where success has so often hinged upon liberal rotation on the d-line.
Here's hoping that the quartet who pledged to play 2013 with the Beavers have higher than a 30 percent success rate among them.
Because Oregon State's 2013 run defense will quite simply depend on being able to find a couple of playmakers in the group of junior college transfers they signed.
By the way - it does certainly help that Delva and Hautau are already here and going through spring ball. They are and will continue to get loads of reps this spring.
And Delva and Peko were rated as the 8th and 9th DT's in the junior college ranks for 2013's class. Maybe they're the 2013 version of the pair Tennessee signed the year before? Beaver fans are sure hoping they are.