Preview 2017: Why Isn’t This Working At Oregon State?
Gary Andersen is supposed to be the coach who can make Oregon State a factor. Why isn’t it working?
So, why isn’t Gary Andersen able to work miracles at Oregon State?
Obviously, he’s a fantastic college football coach. You don’t turn Utah State from an absolute nothing of a football program into an 11-2 killer with one of the nation’s top run defenses if you don’t know what you’re doing.
He led the way to a19-7 run at Wisconsin with an appearance in the 2014 Big Ten Championship, and then the next year at Oregon State he goes 2-10, and followed it up with a 4-8 clunker. But he went 4-8 in his first two seasons at Utah State before turning it around.
Is this the season things start to change in Corvallis?
Defensively, his teams are known for their hard-nosed linebackers and aggressive try-hards who come up with explosive plays behind the line. Last year, his run D gave up 218 yards per game and finished 102nd in the country.
On the other side, he wasn’t able to run his version of the spread at Wisconsin, but he cranked up some devastating ground games, led by a huge season from Melvin Gordon. And last year he was able to get the Beavers rumbling on the ground, but had one of the nation’s least-efficient passing games.
While his Beaver teams have been competitive, and last year close out with wins over Arizona and Oregon, so far he has beaten just four FBS teams – Cal and San Jose State to go along with the victories over the Wildcats and Ducks.
So why isn’t this working? Why aren’t his systems translating to the Pac-12?
Part of the reason has been the schedule. 11 of the 18 losses so far came to teams that finished with nine wins or more, and three more came against teams that won eight games.
The only true clunker losses came to UCLA last season and Colorado two years ago – duh, Andersen and OSU can’t lose to mediocre teams.
But it’s also going to take a little time. It’s not like Andersen inherited a program that was rocking and rolling, but this year, there’s going to have to be a breakthrough, even if the Pac-12 North is a whole lot nastier.
Ryan Nall and a whole slew of experienced rushers return – including a few good new parts behind a line that needs some work. Fortunately, the passing game should be far stronger if 6-7 JUCO transfer Jake Luton can bomb away to a veteran receiving corps.
And that defense that needs to start playing up to Andersen snuff? 15 of the top 18 tacklers are back including a good bulk of the pass rushing production.
Will it mean the Beavers will finally be good enough to overcome a schedule with Washington, at USC, Colorado, Stanford, at Oregon and Minnesota? It should mean they’ll be good enough to hang around with them, and potentially get back to a bowl game.
Andersen is too good to keep losing like he has so far at Oregon State. Is his team good enough to be an X factor in the North race? Not quite, but he’s succeeded with a whole lot less.