Coach: Gary Andersen (0-0, entering first season, 49-38 overall)
2014 record: 5-7, 2-7 in the Pac-12 Conference, tied for fifth in the North Division
Look back: Oregon State opened the 2014 campaign by winning its first three games for the first time since 2012. The Beavers followed up a loss to USC on Sept. 27 with a win over Colorado, improving to 4-1. But a six-point loss to Utah on Oct. 16 sent the Beavers into a tailspin. The team dropped six of its last seven to finish with a losing record for the first time since 2011. Coach Mike Riley’s sudden departure for Nebraska left uncertainty surrounding the program for the first time in almost 15 years. In response, Oregon State hired Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen.
Offensive starters returning: 9
Offensive starters lost: 2
Defensive starters returning: 2
Defensive starters lost: 9
Key losses: QB Sean Mannion, RB Terron Ward, WR Connor Hamlett, SS Ty Zimmerman, FS Ryan Murphy, CB Steven Nelson, DE Dylan Wynn, LB Jabrai Johnson, DT Slate Hautau, LB Michael Doctor
Top returnees: RB Storm Woods, WR Victor Bolden, WR Jordan Villamin, DE Jaswha James, DT Jalen Grimble, LT Will Hopkins, LG Sean Harlow, C Isaac Seumalo, RG Fred Lauina, RT Gavin Andrews
Strengths: For the third straight season, Oregon State debuts a new offensive coordinator as Dave Baldwin joins the coaching staff. He reunites with Andersen, with the pair previously working together at Utah State from 2009-11. The Beavers ranked last in the Pac-12 last season in scoring (25.7 points per game) and rushing offense (118 yards per game) and ranked near the bottom of the league in total offense (393 yards per game). Baldwin could be the answer to those problems. He spent the previous two seasons at Colorado State, where he turned the Rams into one of the most versatile offenses in the country.
Baldwin has the luxury of working with two of the team’s top players from last season in running back Storm Woods (766 yards rushing, 5 TDs) and wide receiver Victor Bolden (798 yards receiving, 2 TDs). They accounted for more than 1,800 yards of total offense last season.
Weaknesses: After four seasons, Sean Mannion leaves the program holding virtually every Oregon State career passing record along with a few Pac-12 records, including most passing yards (13,600).
Filling his shoes won’t be an easy task, with the Oregon State roster lacks experience at the quarterback position. Freshman Seth Collins appears to be the front-runner for the job after enrolling at the school in January. The dual-threat quarterback has been impressive during the spring, pushing himself to the top of the pecking order. Redshirt freshman Nick Mitchell, who ran the scout team in 2014, is also a factor.
Oregon State ranked fourth in the Pac-12 last season in total defense, allowing a little over 400 yards per game. But with only two starters from that unit returning in 2015, experience is a concern. Andersen hired former Utah defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake to coach the unit. Sitake helped the Utes field the second-best defense in the Pac-12 last season. His biggest concern is replenishing several units, including the linebacker group that lost D.J. Alexander (70 tackles, 4.0 sacks), Jabrai Johnson (63 tackles) and Michael Doctor (69 tackles, 3 INTs).
Oregon State was especially stingy when it came to pass defense, ranking third in the league with 248 yards allowed per game. But three of the four starters are gone, leaving just cornerback Larry Scott (43 tackles) to help mentor new starters.
Outlook: Mannion’s presence provided the program with an extended run of strong quarterback play. Finding his replacement is crucial because the offense has almost all the pieces needed for a successful run. With only 35 upperclassmen, including 15 seniors on the roster, this year’s team will rely on talent to overcome inexperience.
Sept. 4 Weber State
Sept. 12 at Michigan
Sept. 19 San Jose State
Sept. 25 Stanford
Oct. 10 at Arizona
Oct. 17 at Washington State
Oct. 24 Colorado
Oct. 31 at Utah
Nov. 7 UCLA
Nov. 14 at California
Nov. 21 Washington
Nov. 27 at Oregon
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com