Put an end to the controversies
The Beavers really turned things around last season, turning one of 2011′s worst offenses into one of 2012′s most efficient. While the improvements on the defensive side of the ball helped, Oregon State has it’s offense to thank for last season’s success.
Though the Beavs lose a major piece this season in Markus Wheaton, the offense should be better in 2013. Mike Riley’s pro-style system is as deep as ever in weapons.
With that said, no unit is perfect. The Beaver’s have a lot of great talent to build off of, but the 2012 team wasn’t without its flaws. And unless they fix those issues, 2013 is going to be a disappointing year.
Make a decision at QB and stick with it
Sean Mannion or Cody Vaz? This question plagued Mike Riley for much of last season, causing the quarterback controversy.
Heading into 2013, it’s time to put the controversy to rest. It was a major distraction last season, and the last thing any offense needs is a rotating door at QB.
Personally, my choice is for Mannion. He has the bigger arm, and makes much quicker decisions. And if you can look past the UW game—since he was brought back too soon for that game—he completed 66 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
While either one of these QBs can shred an opposing defense when hot, Mannion is often more consistent. Vaz was prone to epic cold patches last season, which were the culprits behind OSU’s second-half collapses to Stanford and Texas.
But once again, that’s just my opinion. The important thing is that Riley makes a choice and sticks to it for the remainder of the season. It’s time to move on.
Benchmarks to set in 2013: One quarterback starts all games; pass for over 4,000 yards
Continue to evolve the running game
After posting the Pac-12′s worst ground attack in 2011, Oregon State’s running game really turned things around last season. The Beavs rushed for over 1,000 yards on the season, while averaging 124 yards per game.
Storm Woods (940 yards) was a huge reason for the turnaround, but he didn’t do it alone. Terron Ward had himself a breakout year, averaging 6.10 yards per carry. Not to mention contributions from wideouts Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, who combined for () yards on the ground.
Heading into 2013, it’s imperative that the Beavers continue to evolve the ground game.
Woods has to stay healthy, and if he can’t do that Riley needs to find a way to give him more rest. Given their talent at the position, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Beavers run a lot of two-back sets in 2012.
It’s also important to keep the wideouts as part of the attack. OSU has tons of speed at the wings, and Riley is a master at using
that in the ground game.
Benchmarks to set in 2013: Woods rush for 1,000 yards; team rush for 1,750 yards
Work the flats
OSU’s passing attack was one of the best in the Pac-12 last season, and they were led by a duo of deadly receivers. But now one of those receivers is headed for the NFL.
The thing about Wheaton was that he was versatile. He could stretch the field vertically, or make short catches in the flats (which he often turned into huge gains with his speed). Now that he’s gone, OSU has to find new ways to stretch the field.
Heading into 2013, I’d like to see OSU use it’s tight ends more. Riley has always ran a pro-style offense, and nowadays tight ends are an integral part to any NFL passing scheme. He needs to adopt that mentality in 2013.
Using the team’s TEs more often opens up whole new realms of possibility. The offense gets better in the redzone, it spreads the defense and it allows the quarterback to make more conservative throws.
The real difference maker will be Caleb Smith. Smith was a freshman last year, and he’s been the talk of the program since being recruited. If he can be a big contributor in 2013, the Beavers offense will be unstoppable.
Benchmarks to set in 2013: TEs combine for 750 receiving yards; have one TE with at least 50 catches