QB Derek Anderson
Coach: Mike Riley
8-5, 1 year
2003 Record: 8-5
at Fresno State LOST 14-16
at California WON 35-21
at Washington State LOST 28-36
at Oregon LOST 20-34
at Southern Cal LOST 28-52
New Mexico WON 55-14

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Beaver fans should worry that with one of the top offenses and defenses in the Pac-10 and record setters like Anderson, Jackson, Newson and Swancutt having great years, the team still only went .500 in a mediocre conference. On paper, OSU should have been in a New Year's Day bowl. Instead, penalties and turnovers hampered spectacular play on both sides of the ball. Another year under Mike Riley will help Anderson's understanding of the system and should translate into smarter decisions, therefore more consistent offensive and team success(es). The senior knows it's time to produce, even with a depleted arsenal.

The O-line must open gaping holes for Wright and Cole to match Jackson's productivity. Neither of them catches as well out of the backfield, so Hass and Clasen have to give Anderson open targets in the five-to-ten yard range. Expect the Beavers to struggle on third down without as many options, meaning that Dailey will attempt far too many field goals. Anderson will still want to make the ill-advised play, so how much he matures will go a long way in determining the offense's finishing ability.

He needs to understand that, as USC's title run proved, defense can dominate in the high-flying Pac-10. This edition of the Beavers' defense matches up with any team physically and will benefit from an opening baptism by fire in Baton Rouge against the other national champion. Their four toughest conference games are at home, so the energy level will be high; will the concentration be there to match it? They'll win their share of the defensive struggles but will be hard pressed to eliminate all the bad habits, leading to another up and down season. So - just once more stated - if consistency is achieved, more victories will be their result.

Projected 2004 record: 7-4
QB - 4 DL - 3.5
RB - 3 LB - 3.5
WR - 3.5 DB - 4
OL - 3.5 ..

Passing: Derek Anderson, 510-261-24, 4058 yds., 24 TD

Rushing: Dwight Wright, 89 att., 350 yds., 2 TD

Receiving: Mike Hass, 44 rec., 1013 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Mike Hass, 7 TD, 42 pts.

Punting: None

Kicking: Danny Kalavi, 0-1 FG

Tackles: Trent Bray, 76 tot., 51 solo, 12.5 TFL

Sacks: Bill Swancutt, 11 sacks

Interceptions: Brandon Browner, 6 for 74 yds. Mitch Meeuwsen, 6 for 89 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Dwight Wright, 14 ret., 15.4 avg.

Punt Returns: Cole Clasen, 42 ret., 5.0 avg.


CB Brandon Browner
OFFENSE: James Newson-WR, Kenny Farley-WR, Brian Kilkenny-OT, David Lose-OG, Tim Euhus-TE, Steven Jackson-RB (NFL), Kirk Yliniemi-K
DEFENSE: Jayson Jean-Baptiste-DE, Dan Rothwell-DE, Dwan Edwards-DT, Richard Seigler-MLB, Lawrence Turner-SS, Carl Tobey-P

It's fortunate that the oft-quoted line from The Matrix, "goodbye Mr. Anderson," did not apply to the Beavers this off-season. Senior QB Derek Anderson is back after leading the Pac-10 in total offense and breaking his own school mark for passing yards in a season with 4,058. Any OSU record he doesn't already own will be his by the end of the year. He possesses enormous physical talent and a calm-amidst-the-storm persona that keeps the offense loose… sometimes too loose, as proven by inconsistencies in '03. The knock on Anderson has been his consistently low pass efficiency rating, predominantly due to a completion percentage below 50%. His arm strength convinces him that any throw is possible, leading to four games of three or more INTs. No surprise, the Beavers lost three of those games. Anderson must continue playing relaxed and confident; however, improving his reads and accuracy will take the team to the next level and make him a dark-horse Heisman contender. Fellow senior Adam Rothenfluh is the only other Beaver QB with experience but, despite his size and an efficiency rating of 150.0 in limited action, he and the other backups are strictly emergency options.

Running Back
Steven Jackson's bowl record five TDs were bittersweet for Beaver fans who knew 2003's performance punched his ticket to the NFL. As tough as he'll be to replace, OSU was in a similar position when record-setter Ken Simonton's graduation allowed Jackson to become a star. Senior Dwight Wright hopes to follow this blueprint. At 5'9", 196 and boasting a 4.37/40, his explosive quickness will conjure up images of Simonton. Wright, however, is not the shifty runner Simonton was. Instead, he prefers to quickly attack the hole, which bodes well for a team that struggled to hold blocks. Blocking was such a problem that, for the first time, offensive coordinator Paul Chryst employed a fullback. The change allowed former Gatorade "player of the year" in Washington, sophomore Ryan Cole, to get on the field as a lead blocker. Though the transition received mixed reviews, the possibility of pairing Cole's power (510-lb squat!) with Wright's speed adds another dimension to OSU's backfield. The hard-working Cole does have the talent to be the feature back, but must first contend with RS-freshman Yvenson Bernard, whose toughness will get him on the field, possibly on defense. No drop off here…

Wide Receiver
Depth was already a problem in the Beavers' three-receiver sets, and now it becomes even more critical with record-setting James Newson's graduation. Anderson loses his go-to guy, as well as a great run-blocker in Kenny Farley, and will have to lean on former walk-on Mike Hass. The junior has taken dramatic steps to earn a scholarship despite unspectacular physical attributes. Hass has the awareness to read defenses and get open in coach Mike Riley's timing-oriented passing scheme, making him a rock-solid possession receiver. Another former walk-on, senior Cole Clasen, brings similar hands and consistency but even less size (5'9"), making him a (downfield) blocking liability. The corps' glaring weakness is that neither of these flankers, nor anyone else on the depth chart, has the speed to stretch a defense. Senior George Gillett adds experience and fits the Riley mold of a reliable route-runner underneath; however, a freshman must step up. Potential is there with redshirt freshman Phil Ghilarducci whose 4.4 speed is best among the bunch. The running game could suffer if this wrinkle of the offense doesn't develop a deep threat.

Offensive Line / Tight End
Three senior starters return to solidify the right side of what will again be a blue-collar line. Some reshuffling may be required, though junior Jason Fyda looked comfortable switching from center to guard and with his astonishing weight room habits, he should be a force. The combined 84 starts between C Matt Brock, RG Kanan Sanchez and RT Doug Nienhuis ensure that the unit will be comfortable with all the Beavers' zone blocking schemes. The apprenticeship is over for tackles Jake Pratt and Adam Koets who both need to add weight to their 6'6" frames as they battle for the LT spot. The Beavers should again boast one of the bigger lines in the country, but, despite the size of the underclassmen, there is not enough proven depth to compensate if they lose any of the seniors. TE Joe Newton, the top Oregon prospect in '02, has such great hands and size that the Beavers may shift their philosophy of TE as strictly a blocking position.

Mike Riley's run-oriented, short passing offense might lack the big-play capability of former coach Dennis Erickson's system; yet, it's the perfect fit for the talent (or lack there of) that the Beavers possess. Zone blocking allows the line to work as a unit and avoid quickness mismatches while short timing routes give players like Hass a chance to outsmart defenses and move the sticks without overwhelming speed. At the center of it all is an experienced senior QB with the intangibles to make any offense prolific. Spend the necessary time in the film room and the Beavers 1.) will cut down on the abundance of mistakes that led to a negative turnover ratio and 2.) could match their 85% red-zone efficiency. A few early downfield shots will open up the running game and help Anderson break his own total offense records.


OT Doug Nienhuis


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Derek Anderson-Sr (6-6, 241) Adam Rothenfluh-Sr (6-3, 201)
RB Dwight Wright-Sr (5-9, 186) Ryan Cole-So (6-0, 226)
WR George Gillett-Sr (6-1, 219) Anthony Wheat-Brown-Fr (6-0, 210)
WR Cole Clasen-Sr (5-9, 190) Brandon Powers-Fr (6-1, 203)
WR Mike Hass-Jr (6-1, 210) Josh Hawkins-Jr (6-0, 185)
TE Joe Newton-So (6-7, 244) Pat Loney-Sr (6-6, 251)
OT Adam Koets-So (6-6, 293) Jake Pratt-Jr (6-6, 286)
OG Jason Fyda-Jr (6-3, 274) Kyle DeVan-Fr (6-2, 292)
C Matt Brock-Sr (6-2, 298) Brent Bridges-Sr (6-3, 291)
OG Roy Schuening-Fr (6-3, 302) Whitfield Usher-Fr (6-2, 342)
OT Doug Nienhuis-Sr (6-6, 321) Josh Linehan-So (6-4, 284)
K John Dailey-Jr (6-1, 214) Alexis Serna-Fr (5-7, 157)




Defensive Line
Experience abounds on a D-line that was one of the Beavers' strengths, holding opponents to a mere 2.5 yards-per-carry. Senior DE Bill Swancutt already own the OSU sack record and is too quick not to hit double-digits in that category for a third straight season. The All-America candidate excels at containment, thanks in part to agile sophomore bookend Brandon Scales who utilizes 4.7-speed to get around the corner in a hurry. His huge upside will draw attention and create room for tackles Ben Siegert and "Sir" Henry Anderson. "Sir" Henry hasn't received the royal treatment in terms of injuries the past two seasons, but, if healthy, he'll shed blockers and fill running lanes. The silver lining to Anderson's injuries is that Siegert gained valuable experience and proved he has the toughness and the quick step to generate a push up the middle. Junior Alvin Smith barely lost out to Anderson last spring and will push both tackles for playing time. The Beavers can sustain injuries and still won't be blown off the line by anyone. Accordingly, rotations will keep this unit fresh into most/all fourth quarters.

Senior WLB Jonathan Pollard started every game a year ago and must be a leader until juco transfer Kevin Davidson matures. As a former safety, Davidson will get his hands on bunches of balls over the middle and will take some of the burden off the secondary. Junior SLB Trent Bray will be relied on as the big hitter and should lead the team in tackles. He is so physical that he could return to the middle where he started his career if senior Seth Lacey is ready to return after a series of injuries. Lacey's sound fundamentals and big game experience could be a critical addition. Every LB hovers around 6'1", 230, giving this unit a lot of flexibility and athleticism.

Defensive Back
Sophomore CB Brandon Browner developed into the Beavers' rookie MVP after a rocky start and is ready to take his place among the great OSU corners. The Pac-10 freshman of the year's sub 4.4 speed, 6'4" size and long arms led to seven INTs before teams decided to throw to the other side. Senior CB Aric Williams stepped up admirably, joining Browner among the conference leaders in pass break-ups and INTs. Both are solid tacklers and can be left alone in man coverage, allowing senior FS Mitch Meeuwsen to focus on roaming and, if needed, stopping the run. A Thorpe award candidate in 2002, Meeuwsen plays instinctually and will force turnovers. He lacks the speed to tightly cover receivers, but makes up for it with veteran savvy. Junior SS Harvey Whiten played well before succumbing to nagging injuries. Nicknamed "hard hittin' Whitten", he combines aggressiveness with a team best 4.33/40 and should be an upgrade in terms of cover ability. Sophomore Sabby Piscitelli is a capable back-up who opened eyes last spring with his strength and determination.

There might very well be more speed on defense than on offense, which will keep the Beavers among the Pac-10's best. A healthy mix of raw talent and game experience at every position ensures that OSU will cover and pressure QBs without necessarily needing a blitz, a sure-fire recipe for success. With questions answered in the secondary, opponents won't average over 200 a game in the air. Teams will focus on establishing the run, allowing Bray and Meeuwsen to cheat up in the box and Swancutt to freely pursue the ball. The tackling will be sound, and, with Meeuwsen's leadership and Whitten's speed, there will be fewer big plays. Just as good as the offense, OSU led the Pac-10 in red zone stinginess, but also in penalties. Improve their discipline and the Beavers will again rival USC as the defensive best in the conference.


DE Bill Swancutt


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Brandon Scales-So (6-5, 225) Joe Rudulph-Fr (6-5, 234)
DT Ben Siegert-So (6-4, 271) Alvin Smith-Jr (6-2, 313)
DT Sir Henry Anderson-Jr (6-3, 294) Derek Hall-Jr (6-3, 268)
DE Bill Swancutt-Sr (6-4, 259) Joe Lemma-So (6-5, 252)
SLB Chaz Scott-Jr (6-2, 222) Keith Ellison-Jr (6-2, 224)
MLB Trent Bray-Jr (6-1, 234) Kevin Davidson-Sr (6-2, 237)
WLB Jonathan Pollard-Sr (6-1, 243) Seth Lacey-Sr (6-2, 237)
CB Aric Williams-Sr (6-0, 172) Kellen Marshall-So (5-10, 183)
CB Brandon Browner-So (6-4, 202) Gerard Lawson-Fr (5-9, 185)
SS Sabby Piscitelli-So (6-3, 217) Harvey Whiten-Jr (6-3, 219)
FS Mitch Meeuwsen-Sr (6-3, 205) Eric Anderson-Fr (6-2, 205)
P Sam Paulescu-Jr (6-2, 185) Jon Strowbridge-Fr (6-1, 238)



Kirk Yliniemi's graduation leaves OSU without any experience at kicker; though, like his golfing namesake, junior John Dailey is long (on kickoffs) and has the edge on Alexis Serna at this point.

Inexperienced sophomore P Jon Strowbridge is the only returnee at Carl Tobey's vacated position; the job will be more wide-open than at kicker. Spring will provide an answer here.

Return Game
OSU cannot overlook a major weakness which helped them finish last in punt returns and seventh in kickoff returns for the Pac-10. Cole Clasen retains the PR job because of his sure hands, but he lacks the explosiveness of a great return man. Both starting RBs and even CB Aric Williams will get a shot to upgrade the kick return game. With poor kick coverage to boot, OSU cannot play for field-position.


Derrick Anderson ran the offense efficiently this spring, impressing the coaching staff with his decision-making and leadership. Being named a captain for his senior season, Anderson is poised to surface in the Heisman race. The run game is still not where they need to be at this point. Ryan Cole made a bid for the starting job and will continue to push Dwight Wright for the honors. Big-play CB Brandon Browner saw some time at receiver this spring, so the trend of two-way DBs/WRs continues... WR Mike Hass will be the big-play guy in a rather unknown receiving corps. Questions still loom in that area. They're looking to get help from converted-SS Anthony Wheat-Brown and JUCO-transfer Kevin Swanigan. The OTs got quite a workout trying to keep Bill Swancutt off of their QB, and that exhausting task can't kill them, so it makes them stronger. One of the new tackles is JUCO-transfer Chris Miller, who can be expected to step in immediately and help steady the line. Kanan Sanchez, who made 34 career starts at OG, has left the team for personal reasons and is not expected to return. Freshman kicker Alex Serna came through this spring with impressive showings and looks to handle the kicking placement honors.

If anyone can find a way to stop DE Bill Swancutt, more power to them. As stated, the senior had a phenomenal spring showing, culminating in a couple of sacks and several TFLs to boot. Not that it was anything new- he's been doing that all spring. The LB corps also showed their experience and talent with a strong spring outing. JUCO-transfer Keith Ellison was very impressive and will be looked upon to contribute right away. The hopes of having possibly the best CB duo in the conference did not fade, as Browner and Aric Williams were locked-up with receivers all spring. Incoming freshman Lamar Herron, the prize recruit of this year's class, has a definite shot at playing right away. Depth at safety is rather thin, so his assistance is desired. JUCO-newby Sam Paulescu has exhibited a strong leg and will handle both punts and kickoffs. And if there's trouble with (deep) placements, he can be trusted to handle that area as well.

WR Kevin Swanigan (jr)
WR Zach Tarver (fr)
P/K Sam Paulescu (jr)
LB Keith Ellison (jr)

NOTE: Reser Stadium will begin renovations (to be completed by the start of the 2005 season) that will increase the stadium's capacity to 43,000. This, of course, is due in large-part to the enormous demand for season tickets born from the recent rise in the football program.