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Five Oregon State Beavers to keep your eyes on for 2013

Oregon State Preseason Ranking #23

Oregon State has 8 returning starters on offense (9 if you include both quarterbacks) and 7 returning starters on defense.

They lost key players in wide receiver Markus Wheaton and corner back Jordan Poyer, but they kept enough depth to stay competitive this season.

Last year, Oregon State got off to a hot start, going 6-0 before falling in a tough one at Washington, 20-17.  I can easily see the Beavers getting off to another great start this year with an easy schedule.

Here are 5 playmakers to watch this season:

Brandin Cooks

With the departure of Markus Wheaton, Cooks will get the chance to become the man on the receiving end. I have him making either the first or second All-Conference team this year as a junior after landing on the honorable mention as a sophomore.

Cooks, one of the fastest receivers in the Pac-12, averaged 17.2 yards per reception last year. He is likely to have an increased workload this season.

The question is, who will be throwing him the football? Both Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion started games for the Beavers last year.

Vas was better at taking care of the ball (11 TD to only 3 INT), but Mannion had a better completion percentage (64.7% to Vas’ 58.9%) over a longer period of time.

brandin-cooks-oregon-state.png

Brankin Cooks should be the man this year at the WR position. (Photo: oregonlive.com)

I am giving the edge to Sean Mannion. He had a great start last year and seemed to have a nice rhythm with Cooks early on.

Cooks’ 5’10″ frame isn’t ideal when it comes to being a touchdown target, but the Beavers have two big body receivers that can fill that void.

Sophomore Richard Mullaney, at 6’3″ and 192 pounds, will likely see time opposite of Cooks. If not him, I like junior Obum Gwacham to see snaps in the red zone – he stands at 6’5″ and 227 pounds.

Storm Woods

Head coach Mike Riley would like to get his running game going a little more this year. The Beavers ranked just 101st in rushing a last season. Storm Woods better be ready to be their workhorse this season.

Woods is a potential 1000-yard rusher, as long as he can stay healthy. He has a lot of potential – possibly a future NFL rusher. And I absolutely love the guy’s name. Just say it with me, Storm Woods.

Having a more balanced attack could help the passing game, and keep their defense off the field a little longer. Speaking of defense..

Scott Crichton

Oregon State will be anchored by their defense this season, and Crichton will likely be the star of it all. He is viewed as one the best defensive ends in college football.

He is a great pass rusher. He led the team in sacks with 9 last year. 17.5 of his 44 tackles were recorded behind the line of scrimmage. (Scout.com)

He is a force on the outside and should create problems for opposing teams. The Beavers will have to replace two defensive tackles from a year ago, putting even more pressure on Crichton to do well this season.

Michael Doctor

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The Doctor is in, and opposing offenses better take note. (Photo: bigstory.ap.org)

Doctor is a three-year starter. As a senior, he will anchor the linebacker group. He led the Beavers with 83 tackles in 2012. Look for him to have another great year as a senior now.

The Beavers are solid on the outside with Crichton on the defensive end, Doctor, and another returning outside linebacker D.J. Alexander.

Getting past these guys on the edge will be a tough feat, unless you’re De’Anthony Thomas.

The Beavers must sure up their inside presence on defense in order to compete with the Oregon Ducks and Stanford Cardinal in the north division.

 Rashaad Reynolds

Oregon State has a great anchor at every level on defense. We’ve talked about Crichton at defensive line and Doctor at linebacker.

Now we have Reynolds at defensive back. Losing Poyer is obviously going to hurt them, but they have great depth returning at defensive back, led by Reynolds.

Experience is a key to sustaining success. Reynolds and the rest of the crew bring just that. Reynolds led the team in interceptions with 3 and played well opposite of Poyer last year. He must show more growth this year as he will be forced to cover number 1 receivers now.

The strong returning class for the Beavers will suit them well. Not to mention, having a fairly weak schedule doesn’t hurt.

They will compete with Stanford and Oregon for the north division, but likely fall short once again. I predict that they will improve by a game or two this season.

Defensive stats used: http://cfn.scout.com/2/1304130.html

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