Depth Chart Analysis - Part II

BeaverFootball.com Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2004


For those of you following along at home, in part one we walked through the changes that have occurred in Oregon State’s football program in the transitional period from the Dennis Erickson era to the Mike Riley II era. As a recap, the final numbers tallied up to five projected starters gone from this year’s starting lineup in the fall.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Defensively, we’ll start up front with the tackles. Defensive tackles have been a position of concern this year, as no playmakers has emerged to help take the pressure off Bill Swancutt. The Stanford game was the first game of the year that truly showed the tackles penetrating into the backfield and making an impact.

  • #1 LT Alvin Smith – currently with program, at #2 on depth chart (projected starter).
  • #2 LT Sir Henry Anderson – currently starting at DT
  • #3 LT Ben Siegert – currently starting at DT
  • #2 RT Chris Scott – retired due to chronic injury (projected starter)

Freshmen:

  • Curtis Coker – currently with program

Summary: If nothing else, the recruiting class at tackle was too thin. This is no surprise, the Beavers knew it then, and they know it now. Losing Chris Scott was painful, as the powerful, athletic, and active player would have almost certainly had a significant impact. Of the two projected starters (Smith and Scott), zero became starters. However, that number is arguable, as there was considerable discussion over whether Smith or Anderson would start.

 

DEFENSIVE END


Dan Norz/BeaverFootball.com
Jeff Van Orsow as a pleasant surprise in 2004.

At defensive end, the discussion for Oregon State begins and ends (pardon the pun) with Bill Swancutt. But the question will soon be, how will OSU replace him? Three of the four defensive ends from the ‘03 depth chart graduated. Brandon Scales was the heir apparent to the left end spot opposite of Swanny, but academics kept him sidelined nearly all year.

  • #3 DE Joe Lemma – current #1 LE
  • #3 DE Brandon Scales – currently with program (projected starter)

Freshmen:

  • Naymon Frank – currently with program, moved to DT
  • Joe Rudulph – currently with program, though indefinitely suspended.
  • Jeff Van Orsow – currently with program, played significant minutes in ‘04.
  • Keith Robertson – did not qualify.

Summary: Just saying the name “Keith Robertson” is likely to produce at least one thread on the football board…but for good reason. The Lake Oswego native would have seen significant minutes this season, particularly with the absence of Scales nearly all year long. Van Orsow has been a pleasant surprise, as few projected his early impact at defensive end. Keep an eye on the young man, he is a very hard worker and will be a good one for Oregon State. Thanks to Scales’ absence from the two deep, only one projected starter is on the field from the 2003 depth chart.

 

LINEBACKER
At linebacker, Oregon State continues churning out great players, and the talent pool is deep. Only one significant loss from the 2003 depth chart stands out. Graduation claimed starting middle linebacker Richard Seigler and #2 slot linebacker Jason Lowe. Bray was still at middle linebacker, as he moved after Seth Lacey’s nagging injury.

  • #1 SLB Seth Lacey – retired due to chronic injury
  • #3 SLB Kevin Davidson – moved to MLB
  • #2 MLB Trent Bray – current starter at MLB (projected starter)
  • #1 WLB Jonathan Pollard – current starter at WLB (injured for ‘04, replaced by Keith Ellison)
  • #2 WLB Chaz Scott – current starter at SLB

Freshmen:

  • Derrick Doggett – currently with program
  • Andy Darkins – currently with program

Summary: Injury hardly even seems to slow this group down! Last year, the group overcame Seth Lacey’s shoulder/neck injury that lead to his retirement, and Chaz Scott’s knee injury. Trent Bray filled in admirably, though out of position and is back at his natural position. This year Pollard is currently injured and Keith Ellison has played well in his stead. This is an outstanding group and continues to be such, in spite of the fact that only two of three projected starters are on the field.

 


Dan Norz/BeaverFootball.com
Brandon Browner (left) and Aric Williams (right) are some of the best cornerbacks in the conference.

CORNERBACKS
Oregon State has had great corners since God was a child…every question each year has been answered by yet another talented corner stepping up, and many opponents tout Aric Williams and Brandon Browner as the best in the conference, perhaps the nation. Graduation only took #2 right corner D.J. Coote from the last year’s depth chart. However, there has recently been some unforeseeable losses and that may impact the position as early as next year.

  • #1 LC Aric Williams – current starter at LC
  • #2 LC Kellen Marshall – season ending knee injury
  • #3 LC Jamaal Jackson – career ending neck injury
  • #1 RC Brandon Browner – current starter at RC

Freshmen:

  • Gerard Lawson – currently with program
  • Justin Williams – passed away in tragic auto accident

Summary: It may be too soon still to analytically discuss the impact of Justin Williams’ passing on the football program, so I will softly say this: Justin Williams is missed. The injuries to Jackson and Marshall hurt both depth and experience, and corner may be a position of need in the near future. For this year’s discussion, however, two projected starters in ‘03 lead to two starters and coincidentally (well, not so much, actually) each corner is a great strength.

 

SAFETY
At safety, the situation is similar to corner. Oregon State keeps churning out talented safeties, and this year is no exception. The only loss to graduation from 2003 was strong safety Lawrence Turner.

  • #2 SS Harvey Whiten – currently injured, still with program
  • #1 FS Mitch Meeuwson – current starter at FS
  • #2 FS Sabby Piscitelli – current starter at SS (projected starter)

Freshmen:

  • Anthony Wheat-Brown – currently with program, moved to WR.

Summary: Two projected starters and two current starters. Safety is a position of strength for the Beavs. I think I’m starting to see a pattern here. Whiten should figure big into the program next year after Meeuwson leaves, along with Lamar Herron, who is a true freshman this year and therefore wasn’t on the ‘03 depth chart.


Dan Norz/BeaverFootball.com
Harvey Whiten should be ready to go next year.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Oregon State’s back seven have been outstanding all year, while the front four has struggled. Not surprisingly, of the linebackers and secondary projected to start this year, only Seth Lacey is missing – and in the starting front four, only Swancutt was projected to start there. The final numbers tally up as seven of 11 projected starters taking the field, and the defense’s success basically reflects that.

 

CONCLUSION
I think most fans would agree that the offense has been inconsistent this season. The question is, “why?” Looking at the depth chart gives you a feel for just how dramatic the upheaval has been, with many veteran players leaving the program unexpectedly and pressing younger players into duty earlier than would have been ideal. Usually you can look at a depth chart and predict who will be starting the very next year. I bet even most casual fans could take a look at the depth chart and fairly accurately predict who would be starting the next fall.

Turnover is an issue with this program currently. I say that without placing blame at St. Dennis feet OR Coach Riley’s – the point is that the trend must be curbed in order for Oregon State to be successful as a team. I think that we’re moving that direction with Riley, and that the hemorrhaging tide of players leaving the program is being stemmed.



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