Oregon State has high expectations for 2013 after going 9-4 last year. After a tough to swallow Alamo Bowl season ending loss, with some of the highest TV ratings of a non-BCS Bowl in the history of college football and the state of Texas, OSU hopes to regroup for 2013, see new leaders emerge and try again to make a BCS Bowl under Riley. Losing Markus Wheaton will be difficult as the Wheaton-Cooks combo proved such a high caliber dual threat to spread defenses. The good news is that the running game looks poised to be quite productive and should help OSU to stay balanced and have less unwise temptation in 4th quarters to get too pass happy. No other single factor cost us such big games last year and stole the Rose Bowl right away from our grasps as much as abandoning the run during the final quarter of a couple of key games.
2013 also brings the much talked about new branding. These new models in Mike Riley’s office look good, but they also make me believe BDC is going to be too stubborn about not mixing up extra combos. We saw a orange top with black pant look that is very traditional OSU also in the rebrand release images and unfortunately for me that is the only other combo I expect to see next year. I hope they don’t try to make the overall orange look too much of a special occasion thing. We need a bare bones minimum of atleast 3 looks in regular rotation. A poll in my last post shows that people like the orange the most, followed pretty closely by the black and with the white trailing. However, I think there should be some occasional nods to past looks including the white helmet with black jerseys at home that we used for quite a while during the JJ Young and Reggie Tongue era and the white jerseys with black helmet away look that we have used for a long time which just concluded last season.
These are still effective looks where we could honor those different generations of Oregon Staters respectively once a year with. Thus, I hope OSU uses its 3 main looks regularly with the occasional mix and match at anytime to keep fans wondering and maximally engaged. A key to the season will be Richard Mullaney, Obum Gwacham and Malik Gilmore stepping up as consistent contributors and with Cooks keeping the passing attack in peak shape. This with a steady, two pronged running game that could feature two 1,000 yard rushers with Woods and Ward both very capable, and OSU will have a strong offensive mix to keep the chains moving and score 30+ in the bulk of its games. OSU is a team that needs to score atleast 28 in the Pac-12 every game because our defense is pretty good but too often gives up 24+. Players like Steven Nelson and Tyrequek Zimmerman need to develop as leaders and be vocal on the field. Seumalo should be a great creator of running lanes and there is no justification to abandon running down the stretch with his ability and defenders getting tired late.
With Stanford, USC, and Washington at home in the 2nd half of the season, OSU has a schedule where it could finally make that breakthrough into the BCS if the players again get off to a fast start. There is a good chance OSU starts hot for a 2nd straight year as early on the toughest game is @Utah in the 3rd week. Win that and come through against the Aztecs in San Diego the following week and OSU could be 4-0 and at the head of the Pac-12 during the middle and end season where they should again get a game that if they win they can make a BCS Bowl and very possibly the Rose Bowl. Mannion seems like he should get the nod at QB and the line will just have to protect him better. When defenses pin their ears back and come at us all out we will have to adjust with a tight end or back aiding in the blocking. Sean’s ability to have less balls knocked down and to see over the line easier is the greater advantage. He must get smarter about making good decisions and knowing when to throw it away to avoid sacks that are too difficult for the offense to overcome. Do these things and the Civil War should be much more interesting this year with Chip Kelly gone.