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OSU SPRING FOOTBALL OUTLOOK.

Byline: The Register-Guard

QUARTERBACKS

Derek Anderson, who set OSU single-season records in passing (3,313) and touchdown passes (25) last year, ventures into his first spring with Mike Riley as coach. The job is Anderson's but his work will be to learn Riley's offensive system, likely not to be a great deal different than former coach Dennis Erickson's "spread," and the terminology that goes with it. Depth includes eight others on the spring roster, all but two either freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Adam Rothenfluh, a junior, is listed at No. 2; redshirt freshman Anton Clarkson at No. 3.

RUNNING BACKS

Steven Jackson, the bulldozer with a high gear, rang up 1,690 yards rushing as a sophomore (an OSU single-season record), had three 200-yard games, nine 100-yard games, led the Pac-10 in rushing at 130 yards a game and led the team in scoring with 102 points. Riley's one-back offense fits Jackson perfectly but relief will have to come from Dwight Wright, a junior, and highly prized redshirt freshman Ryan Cole.

WIDE RECEIVERS

The one offensive position without a returning starter is split end, an opening created with the graduation of Shawn Kintner. Several receivers, including George Gillett, Cole Clasen, Deondre Alexander (injured all of last season) and Josh Hawkins, are expected to duel for the job this spring. James Newson, the OSU career leader in pass receiving yards who set school single-season records for pass receiving yards and TD receptions, anchors the receivers at flanker. Kenny Farley, the team's second-leading receiver last season, returns at slotback.

TIGHT ENDS

Tim Euhus, recruited by Riley, returns after starting all 13 games last season and was the fourth-leading receiver with 385 yards but caught just one TD pass. Redshirt freshman Joe Newton is expected to give Euhus a run for his job - or be the second tight end when the offense has two of those guys on the field. Dan Haines has shown a lot of promise but is sitting out the spring after surgery to his left knee.

OFFENSIVE LINE

It was an area plagued by injuries and adjustments forced by those injuries last season, but the Beavers enter spring practice with starting experience from tackles Brian Kilkenny and Doug Nienhuis, center Matt Brock and guards Kanan Sanchez and David Lose. The challenge will be establishing depth to account for future injuries and adjusting to Riley's offensive system that likes to spread out a defense, requiring strong pass protection and fleet feet for run blocking.

DEFENSIVE LINE

A hit or two taken in this area. Gone are tackle Eric Manning, an all-Pac-10 player, and reserve tackle James Lee, but returning are starting tackle Dwan Edwards and starting ends Noah Happe and Bill Swancutt, the latter of whom equaled OSU single-season quarterback sack (11 1/2 ) and tackles for loss (21) records. Dan Rothwell returns to deepen the chart after missing last season because of injury, as does Henry Anderson - listed as No. 1 at left tackle as spring practice begins.

LINEBACKERS

All-Pac-10 player Richard Seigler, who averaged more than 7 1/2 tackles a game last season, returns and has started every game (36) in his career. Nick Barnett, an all-Pac-10 player, and Erik Tuma do not return, putting emphasis this spring on replacing those players. Seth Lacey, a junior who played in 13 games last season, starts the spring as the leading candidate to replace Barnett at strongside linebacker and Jonathan Pollard, a junior with no starts, is atop the weakside LB list. Linebackers dominated Erickson's defense; Riley's take on the linebacker role will unfold this spring amid his 4-3 approach with a combination of coverages in the secondary.

SECONDARY

Two defensive backs return with starting experience, strong safety Lawrence Turner and free safety Mitch Meeuwsen, though the latter will miss spring practice because of surgery on his right knee. The challenge is to replace three departed starters - Dennis Weathersby, the all-Pac-10 right cornerback who holds the OSU career pass breakup record (62), left cornerback Terrell Roberts and strong safety Calvin Carlyle. Shamon Jamerson starts spring practice as No. 1 at left corner and Aric Williams opens at right corner, but LCB Brandon Browner, SS Harvey Whiten, FS Brandon Catanese and RCB Jamaal Jackson and Kellen Marshall figure to make the secondary a primary competition zone this spring.

SPECIALISTS

For a walk-on, place-kicker Kirk Yliniemi has done all right for himself, setting a single-season OSU record for consecutive field goals kicked (15) last year. He returns. So does Carl Tobey, OSU's punter, who averaged 40.3 yards a kick. Kick return leader Catanese and Williams, the team's top punt returner, also return.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 3, 2003
Words:772
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