Preview 2018: Previewing and looking ahead to the Oregon State Beavers season with what you need to know.
Preview 2018: Oregon State Beavers
– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
– Top Players, Key Game, Fun Stats
– What Will Happen & Win Total Prediction
– Recruiting Class Analysis | Schedule Analysis
– Oregon State Previews 2017 | 2016 | 2015
Yes, for at least one year, Oregon State was close to being national championship good.
The 2000 Beavers were a three-point loss against Washington from going unbeaten and – likely – getting a shot to play Oklahoma for the BCS Championship.
The high-octane squad went on to throttle a terrific Notre Dame team 41-9 in a shocker of a Fiesta Bowl, setting the tone for what was supposed to be a huge follow-up campaign – Sports Illustrated famously named the Beavers its preseason No. 1 team.
The 2001 Oregon State Beavers went 5-6.
The quarterback who went through it all over a 41-game span from 1998 through 2001 was a 5-10, light-armed walk-on who wasn’t all that accurate, couldn’t run, and threw a decent amount of picks. Even so, Jonathan Smith finished his career throwing for 9,680 yards and 55 scores, highlighted by his 305-yard, three touchdown day – all in three quarters – against the Irish.
Smith has earned his stripes moving up the coaching ladder, turning into Chris Petersen’s quarterback coach at Boise State for a few years, and later as his offensive coordinator at Washington before the gig opened up at his alma mater.
To use a tired cliché, his hiring checks all the boxes, representing a nod to the past and a massive step forward.
He’s young. Just 39, this isn’t like getting Gary Andersen or Mike Riley to hope for a solid year or three. This is getting a star coaching prospect on the rise who can do the building the program needs, and he just so happens to have been an Oregon State quarterback.
So while the football team has to keep looking ahead, it’s not a bad thing to have a guy who can draw on the experiences of what it took to create a very fast, very exciting Beaver team that stunned the college football world one year, and know what happened when the swag quickly went away – losing Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a little something to do with that – just a season later.
It really is possible to win at Oregon State – the Beavers came up with seven eight-plus win seasons and went to nine bowl games after 2000 – but it takes some work. It takes the right parts, it takes the right system, and it takes the right coaching.
It all starts with generating more offense. There’s experience at receiver, but the explosiveness isn’t there quite yet. The quarterback play has to be better – hoping for 6-7 Jake Luton to be healthy and effective after suffering a back injury, The running game should be stronger behind a veteran offensive line, and there are decent options to go in case Luton isn’t ready.
The defense that couldn’t do much of anything right is full of experience, too. The secondary has hitters, the front three is big and should be able to handle itself against the run, and the coaching and system will create opportunities for the linebackers to make more big things happen.
But it’s going to take some time.
The young head man has to grow into the gig – even with a terrific staff built up around him – and he’ll need a recruiting cycle to get more of the guys he needs to make this all go.
Finally, though, there’s some stability, there’s a coach the fan base will like and trust, and there’s the hope of another 2000 coming around the corner.
Maybe more than once this time.