27.Aug.2011 Grading the Defense

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Below are my grades for the defense. My methodology is simple: consider the starter and backup and then give the unit a score. Given the number of injuries the Beavers have had this season, I feel grading only the starters would be an inaccurate measure of the defense. Also, even without injuries, the Beavs want to get back to substitutions so the guys behind the starters will play.

LEFT END
Taylor Henry
Rudolf Fifita/Dylan Wynn

Analysis: Henry is a 3rd down specialist, plain and simple. He's below average versus the run. Fifita is…well…nobody knows. If you like Fifita, raise the grade. To me he's a wildcard, and considering his offer sheet and how late he signed it's hard for me to be optimistic. If Wynn jumps to #2 on the final depth chart, upgrade this unit to a B. He has maximum upside potential and could end the season as the starter.

Grade: C- (B if Wynn makes a move)

LEFT DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Castro Masaniai
Ben Motter

Analysis: Masaniai does one thing exceptionally well: he takes up space. The Beavs desperately need it since Frahm and Glover are undersized for their position. Still, the depth here is weak, and the starter is a serviceable player, but one with limitations. Mana Tuivailala is a wildcard. I'd think he'd see action before Ben Motter, but right now Riley has Motter as the two. 

Grade: C

RIGHT DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Andrew Seumalo/Kevin Frahm
Dominic Glover

Analysis: Patchwork of an ex-defensive end and a former walk-on/coach's son. Only at OSU, right? This is probably the weakest position on the entire defense. The loss of Fred Thompson was huge…when we look back on it next year, we'll probably recognize it was a season changing injury. Those are the breaks. Once Frahm returns, upgrade this unit to a C.

Grade: D+

RIGHT END

Scott Crichton
Rusty Fernando

Analysis: Crichton will be a force. Fernando is a serviceable backup, though probably more of a third down specialist. Overall the combo is a good one.

Grade: B+

SAM LINEBACKER
Cameron Collins
Rueben Robinson

Analysis: Potential NFL talent in Cameron Collins, and then a drop off to a Pac-12 tweener in Robinson makes this group "top heavy".
Jabral Johnson is a wildcard, but all signs point to a red-shirt.

Grade: B+


MIDDLE LINEBACKER

Feti Unga
Tony Wilson

Analysis: Unga came on strong at the halfway point last season. Many people didn't notice, but some of us did. He's had a heck of a fall camp. Tony Wilson is at full speed and has also had a great camp. If one of these guys gets hurt there should be no drop in production. MLB was a glaring weakness last season. Not this year.

Grade: B


WILL LINEBACKER

Michael Doctor
D.J. Welch/Shiloah Te’o

Analysis: Will is probably the deepest LB position. Any of these three could start and do well. In my opinion, Welch is the most talented of the group, but Doctor is more refined at this point. Te'o is a tad small, but plays like you'd expect from a (former) Cougar. My two concerns with Doctor are his size and coverage skills. I've seen him have trouble bringing down and covering running backs. The depth here makes this the strongest LB corp.

Grade: A-

LEFT CORNERBACK

Jordan Poyer
Keynan Parker

Analysis: Again, a top heavy position. Poyer will be an all-conference player, but Parker hasn't developed at all. So, we have an A corner and a C corner, making the two-deep their average.

Grade: B

SAFETY

Anthony Watkins
Ryan Murphy

Analysis: Tremendous combo. Watkins is flat out solid, and Murphy is an up and coming ball hawk.

Grade: A-


SAFETY

Lance Mitchell
Tyrequek Zimmerman

Analysis: Interesting that we have two former WRs at this position. Similar players, too. Zimmerman is promising but unproven, and Mitchell has nagging abdominal issues. I have a minor concerns (i.e. health), but the talent is top notch.

Grade: B+

RIGHT CORNERBACK

Rashaad Reynolds
Sean Martin

Analysis: Rashaad Reynolds is an upgrade over Brandin Hardin. Hardin was solid in run support and brought a lot of experience, but his flexing, posturing, and flat out blown coverages were old. Reynolds has better coverage skills. We'll probably be frustrated with him as he gets burned and grows into the position, but by week 6 we'll have completely forgotten about Brandin Hardin.

Grade: B-

Overall, I expect the defense to be much improved over last season. My overall grade, at least for the starters, would be a B+. Depth knocks that down a bit, but barring injuries they'll be good.

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  • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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    Nice recap. Where’s Dylan Wynn? Though he was the backup at one of the DE positions now? Also, when are we going to start replacing Chuck Norris’ name with Dylan Wynn? There’s alot of man love for that guy on this site right now.

    • angry angry says:
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      Wynn could make noise at left DE. I was going to wait to grade the unit because things can still change, but next week I want to start looking at the upcoming game. I updated the post to include Wynn.

      If Wynn, rather than Fifita, backs up Henry, I view that as a huge upgrade. That unit becomes a B with upside potential. In that scenario, Wynn could even be starting by mid-season.

  • CraigBeav says:
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    I have two spare tickets for the OSU visitors section at the Wisconsin game. Row 44 I think. Anyone want them? Face value or best offer.

  • HopefulBeav says:
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    Great write up. While a lot of people (Ted Miller) keep harping on the fact that we now only have two returning starters from last years defense (because of injuries), I’m convinced that is not a bad thing. Last years defense was slow, soft, and had zero intensity. All three of those things should be improved this year, especially at linebacker where all three of the starters are aggressive big hitters. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to lose a ton of starters from a crappy defense. This years defense will be inexperienced, but I agree with Angry that it will be significantly improved from last year. DT is the only spot on the field that I’m really worried about because the lack of size may kill us against a physical team like Wisconsin.

    • angry angry says:
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      That’s exactly how I see the WI game playing out. The Badgers hand off, and the OSU LBs are making tackles 12 yards down field. That’s why I said Fred Thompson is a huge deal. Once we finally see him play next year, we’ll probably look back on this year and think “what if?”

      I think Ted Miller is shot. He has to cover 12 teams now. They really need a blogger for each team. When Miller’s paying attention he’s good, but since the two additions he’s been off.

    • mckalk mckalk says:
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      Some college football scribes get hung up on returning starters even on teams that did not perform well the previous season. I am not sure “upperclassmen experience” is all that important at some positions anymore (maybe QB excluded). Beaver staff seems slow to the table in playing true freshmen,but might be having a bit of a breakthrough this year. Coaches should be focused like crazy on developing young talent to play immediately when the skills are obvious and not be looking at tenure in the system.

  • ObjCritic says:
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    Given the need to rest Poyer, i really wish they’d have Parker return kicks.

    Overall, grades seem a little high. The d~lineman, are either undersized (castro excepted), or inexperienced, dt depth isn’t there, and all of that will hurt. This line probably gives up 50 lbs each on average to WI. Hopefully, Chricton/Wynn do their best “swancutt @ LSU” impersonations.

    There seems to be a tendency on this site lately to rate this team against last year’s, instead of what’s needed to win the league.

    • angry angry says:
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      When I view the defense objectively, I am really high on 10 of the 11 positions (no 2nd DT is a huge weakness). But, it’s possible that I’m so glad to see Pankey and Robinson out of the lineup that I’m over glorified everything. That’s what you’re saying. Sure, it’s possible. I try hard not to do that; I try to call a crappy player “a crappy player”. I just can’t do it with many of these guys.

      If I am wrong, I think a more accurate assessment is that I’m too excited about the youth and unknown. It’s easy to see potential and then envision immediate results. For example, I think Crichton will play in the NFL at some point. So, am I hyping him too much this year? That could be. I try not to do that kind of thing, but I am excited about the youth so it could be happening subconsciously.

      Oh, and I think the Ducks will win the league pretty easily.

      • ObjCritic says:
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        I sll ee the potential too; in 2 years, Chricton/Wynn will be feared in league play. But now, this season, given size, depth, experience, I give the DT’s a Solid D-, the ends a C.

        Future safeties are also promising, but second string has no game time.

        Good news is that overall, better, more driven atheletes on the way!

      • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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        I think Stanford wins the league

      • Beakerdo says:
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        i think the Beavers win the league. Ducks lost too much o line. Stanford lost coach.

        • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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          Beavers winning the league? That’s a bit much. That’s a year away, IMO. Stanford may have lost their coach but they got the best QB in the nation, so they’ll be just fine. I actually think Stanford will play for the national championship. Only 1 semi tough non conference game and it’s at home and Oregon is also at home. Things set up perfectly for Stanford to play for a national championship.

          • Beakerdo says:
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            you bring up a good point. Stanford does have an ‘easy’ schedule. But with injuries things can change in an instant. (what if Luck goes down?)

            All I want to do is raise expectations for BeaverNation. I don’t think it’s too much to expect a Rose Bowl every 3 years. With all the ‘big’ schools having integrity issues, the Beavers stand out as a program that does it the right way.

            The recruiting classes have gone from ‘coaching up’ to ‘first year starters.’ Get ready for the slow starts to fade away as the recruits continue to improve. When will the beavs get a 5 star?

          • angry angry says:
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            I think Stanford will finish 5th in the Pac-12. People are underestimating Harbaugh’s importance. That guy instilled confidence, demanded accountability (i.e. made players afraid to fail), yet also had the admiration in his players. That is an extremely rare combination, and the odds the new guy can match it are zero.

            It’s like saying Apple is the same company now that Steve Jobs resigned. Tim Cook? Um, no.

            Harbaugh, Jobs…these are once in a lifetime leaders. There is no way any team is better without them.

          • mckalk mckalk says:
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            Interesting. I just caught Shaw on the radio. He seems very confident, but my take was that he is riding the coat-tails of Luck. He talked about how great the defense is going to be. I don’t see it. They will be ok, but not great. Who knows, they may out score everyone.

  • WFO WFO says:
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    Are they still planning to have Poyer return kicks now that he’s a starter?

    Seems like a bad idea.

    • NCAA_viOlation NCAA_viOlation says:
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      Cliff actually had a write up today on that same topic:

      http://www.gazettetimes.com/sports/article_6b244c82-d053-11e0-a125-001cc4c002e0.html

    • HopefulBeav says:
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      Not necessarily. If he’s returning a kick that means the offense is coming back onto the field and he gets to go to the sideline afterwards and rest. If he seems like he’s worn out while trying to return the ball, then yeah, switch him out. I personally like to have defensive players do the returning instead of an offensive player who is now a little tired and having to get into the offensive huddle. I’ve read a couple things that have said they’re looking at Brandin Cooks and some of the other freshman running backs to return kicks too.

    • angry angry says:
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      Weird that there’s no mention of Kenyan Parker.

      A backup corner with world class speed…seems like the perfect guy to return kickoffs.

      • Beakerdo says:
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        i couldn’t agree with you more, angry. a guy that runs a 4.3 forty needs to be returning kickoffs and punts. heck, maybe in the wild beaver formation too.

  • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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    Back from Saturday practice. I’ll keep this report short.

    – Vaz may be #2 on the official depth chart, but I suspect that Mannion has actually passed Vaz and is now the top backup to Katz. Mannion is getting more reps than Vaz in recent practices, and doing more with the reps he gets. Vaz seems to be fading before our eyes.

    – Malcolm Agnew can catch the ball coming out of the backfield. MA made a couple of tough catches today during 11-on-11 drills.

    • HopefulBeav says:
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      Is Agnew getting most of the reps with the 1’s or are he and McCants still splitting them?

      That’s great to hear about Mannion too. I really think Katz will achieve “star” status before he leaves Oregon State and that’d awesome if Mannion could step in as a Junior without having the offense take a step back at all.

      • silverstream055 silverstream055 says:
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        Yes, Agnew is getting the most reps with the 1’s. McCants — and others — get some reps, but Agnew gets the most.

        As for Mannion, he has improved greatly since last year, and even since the start of Fall camp. If he keeps improving at this rate, Mannion will be a force to be reckoned with soon….

  • MudAndSticks MudAndSticks says:
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    If the DTs are as small as the roster indicates I would think that means the LBs are going to be getting a lot of activity. It looks to me like most of the LBs are undersized too which should mean the Beavs will have a tough time stopping the running game. Aren’t the safeties undersized too? Usually it seems like it’s the undersized guys who are prone to getting injured.

  • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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    Undersized D line? That was true of the Fiesta Bowl game with Notre Dame. And they made mincemeat out of ND. Slow is one thing — small is quite another.

    • HopefulBeav says:
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      I’m trying to be optimistic and think that way too. Hopefully the significant improvement in overall speed on the defense from last years team will help offset some of the size miss matches we’re going to run into this year. What I wouldn’t give to have Paea for one more year in the middle of that D-line though…

  • Tyler says:
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    Good stuff, I too think bit overated based on youth, should be more c grades.

    If u had to pick best position to.be weak it might be dt. True wisc will meet us but that was going to happen even with healthy dts. With all the spread/passy happy.stuff, our increased speed on d will make having a weaker middle less of an issue.

  • MudAndSticks MudAndSticks says:
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    Jacquizz Rodgers Showcased In ATL Loss

    http://atlanta.sbnation.com/atlanta-falcons/2011/8/26/2385829/falcons-steelers-schedule-nfl-preseason-2011

    Jacquizz Rodgers was the star of the second half, putting up 50 squirrelly yards on nine touches, his most extensive activity yet. Considering he did some of that against Pittsburgh’s starting defense, which might be the NFL’s best, count his performance as one of the brightest spots of the preseason so far. We didn’t get to see much of him in weeks one and two — worth the wait? I’d say so

  • angry angry says:
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    It wouldn’t be football season without hope.

    This morning, I fixed a bowl of oatmeal, poured a glass of orange juice, and opened the Oregonian.

    “Oregon State Riding on Hope as Season Starts” read the headline.

    I gagged a little on my oatmeal, and the OJ almost came out of my nose. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but I did have a bout of mind’s eyes, mental nausea.

    You know, rather than use the H word, I wish the beat writers would have the bollocks to come out and say, “We expect a 6 win season.” At least Riley wasn’t the one saying it.

  • DU1266 says:
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    I really hope we get 6 wins, but I don’t see it. Maybe I’m being a pessimist but I think Katz will struggle again because I don’t see him as an intellectual on the football field (I hear he’s pretty smart in the classroom). I don’t think much of either our offensive and defensive lines. I’m worried that Robinson is going to see extended playing time and that our secondary is just too young right now. Speaking of young, that’s how I see our receiving corp as well. I think we have a ton of talent but it’s all raw talent (except is probably Cooks) and very young. I think the teams we beat are Sac. St., UCLA, and WSU. I think we lose to everyone else (Wisc, ASU, UA, BYU, UT, Stanford, Cal, UW, and Whoregon). So yeah, I think we go 3 – 9 overall. If things go our way we beat Cal and UW because they have new QBs and we finish 5 – 7 again.

    The good news is that while I think we’ll have a tough year ahead, I think we will end up playing a lot of young guys and we will be prime for great things in 2012 & 2013. Okay, feel free to light me up on this….

    • BeaverBeliever21 says:
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      3-9?! I see no way that happens under any circumstances. This team will be in a bowl game. Washington to me is the overhyped team this year. They were fortunate enough to make a bowl game last year and they aren’t as good this year, IMO. The only teams I think that I think definitely beat the Beavers is Stanford, Oregon and Wisconsin. The rest of the games I think the Beavers can win. ASU will be a tough game but I’m just not a believer in the Sun Devils.

    • HopefulBeav says:
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      I don’t understand this logic at all. It’s easy to sit there and say “well, our team doesn’t look as good this year as they have in the past, so I think we’ll go 3-9”. But look at who we’re playing! The ONLY two games that I’ll admit are going to be real real long shots to win are against Wisconsin and Oregon (maybe Stanford also, depending on how the new coach and o-line plays for Luck). I see every other game as winnable, at least at this point before the season has started. WSU, Sac St., UCLA, and Cal should all be hands down wins. I think UW will take a step back this year after losing Locker, most of their o-line, and now Polk has a knee issue. Arizona is also extremely winnable as they have FIVE new offensive linemen starting and we get them for the fifth game of the season (each of the new o-lineman will only have four career starts under their belts). The other three (Utah, BYU, and ASU) would all fall under the category “we’ll see”. I would be extremely disappointed if we did not get at least 6 wins this season.

    • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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      LOL … Seems to me the analyses says this year’s team is no worse than last year’s, and maybe better. So how on earth can you come up with a 3-9 prediction? Last year’s was basically 6-6 if any luck had come our way (losing two OT games).

      Man, the doom and gloom is heavy in the trenches. I think its another down year, but enough wins to bowl. Could easily have been so last year.

      I think some of you are feeling down just because you see UO riding high, top 5 ranking, etc, and hate them so much. Try not thinking about UO. Imagine OSU the only D1 team in the state….

      • osbeavs says:
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        What two games did we lose in OT last year? I can only count one.

        Also, I think that it is mostly the overly optimistic people on this site that are saying that we will win a bunch. Those in touch with the sober reality see that this season is probably a 4 or 5 win season. Our team is lacking in a lot of areas. Notice that the local media is even reserved. While not explicity stated, most of them write with a tone that screams, “boy I hope they win 6 this year.”

        This nonsense that I see about 8-9 wins (even someone claiming a championship this year) is just homerism. This team has spotty young talent. It is important to remember that you have to run the ball and be able to stuff the run to close out games. We don’t have many signs that we can do either until we perform against a real opponent.

        • rsteve503 rsteve503 says:
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          Yeah, my bad — I tend to think of the UCLA game as an ot loss. My thinking is that with just a better attitude, the two close losses, UW and UCLA, could have been wins. If the attitude isnt better this year, hell, they could lose every game. But I expect them to realize that is what is needed and be better. Last year should have been at least 7-5 and I cant imagine the team being worse. If they had gone 3-9 last year, I can see that as a prediction. But they didnt.

          What will suck is if we see non-competitive games like last year, where we got small effort from the team….WSU, UCLA. But our performance in some games showed that sufficient talent was there, so I think its reasonable to be optimistic. Thats a fun thing about college football — each season a talent turnover and a clean slate.

  • MudAndSticks MudAndSticks says:
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    Imo what’s being overlooked is how much the Rodgers brothers meant to the won loss tally. Without them the number of wins would have been greatly reduced and therefore the number of losses ……

    If there’s a RB and a WR on the team who can carry the team the way they did then 6 wins is possible. Otherwise …………

    Additionally, not only is the talent on the DL questionable, it’s thin. In the past the Beavs have rotated a lot of players in and out of the game, thus keeping them reasonably fresh. Time will tell if the talent is there to allow them to do that. If it isn’t then ………… I’d rather not think about what that could imply.

    • mckalk mckalk says:
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      I really think anything from 8-4 down to 3-9 is “reasonable” depending on how things play out. I think a lot of people are forgetting about Jacquizz and his otherworldly ball security. We are going to see more fumbles out of the running back position and that is not going to be a good thing. 09 and 10 seasons could have easily seen worse results with a mere mortal at the postion. Katz only threw 11 picks and Jacquizz did not fumble and it got the team to only 5-7. TO margin makes or breaks many a season. Beavers better be doing other things MUCH better because the ball security is not going to be better.

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