Oregon State Beavers

Oregon State lands BYU transfer

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Brayden Kearsley‘s heart never seemed to be quite into playing for the BYU Cougars. Instead, he’ll reverse course and return to his home state to finish his college football career.

When Kearsley was originally recruited, he first gave BYU a verbal commitment before backing out and strongly considering Oregon State. As national signing day approached, a visit to BYU caused Kearsley to change his mind.

“I always had BYU in the back of my mind, but I remember not wanting to sit through another one of the meetings with BYU again because I really didn’t want to go there anymore or at least I was telling myself I didn’t,” Kearsley said in 2013 when he officially committed to the school, via the Desert News. “I mean, I knew exactly what they’d say and I honestly didn’t want to hear it again, but it was different with Coach (Robert) Anae — it was something I wasn’t expecting.”

After two years in Provo, Utah, Kearsley decided he needed a change.

According to The Oregonian‘s Connor Letourneau, Kearsley’s career has come full circle after deciding to transfer to Oregon State.

The four-star offensive lineman was the crown jewel of BYU’s recruiting class, but he wasn’t able to find his way onto the field during his two seasons with the program.

A native of Aloha, Oregon, Kearsley will now play less than two hours away from his hometown.

The interior blocker will be required to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules before playing for the Beavers the following year.

(Photo courtesy of BYU’s athletic department)

UPDATE: Oregon State swipes defensive coordinator from Utah

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Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen committed a Pac-12-on-Pac-12 crime by stealing the Utah Utes’ defensive coordinator away from the program.

Kalani Sitake spent the last 10 seasons as a member of Utah’s coaching staff. He rose from being the program’s linebackers coach to defensive coordinator. Sitake eventually earned an assistant head coach title in 2012.

After an extended stay in Salt Lake City, Andersen was able to pry the talented play-caller to Corvallis, Oregon, to become a key component to his new staff.

Utah’s defense finished in the middle of the Pac-12 pack in most of the major statistical categories this season, but Sitake’s approach is very aggressive. Utah led the conference with 52 sacks.

Sitake’s experience stopping Pac-12 offense was also a vital component for Andersen.

Dave Aranda previously served as Andersen’s defensive coordinator at both Utah State and Wisconsin. The new Beavers head coach obviously wanted to go in another direction, though.

Plus, Sitake is an important addition for Oregon State recruiting. During his time at Utah, the Tongan native recruited the Los Angeles area, Utah and Florida.

Utah’s defensive line coach, Ilaisa Tuiaki, will join Sitake, according to SI.com’s Thayer Evans.

UPDATE [8:45 p.m. ET]: Oregon State’s athletic department officially announced six different additions to Gary Andersen‘s staff.

Kalani Sitake (defensive coordinator/assistant head coach), Chad Kauha’aha’a, Derrick Odum, Ilaisa TuiakiT.J. Woods and Evan Simon (strength and conditioning coach) will comprise the bulk of the team’s support staff.

“One of my top priorities has been to put together a staff that helps student-athletes succeed academically, socially and athletically,” Andersen said in a statement from the school. “These coaches all put the student-athlete first and are all proven professionals in their respective areas, excelling at the highest level. They have demonstrated the ability to recruit nationally and that experience ensures that we will be able to bring in student-athletes that fit Oregon State University, our community and our program.”

Oregon State releases statement regarding Mike Riley’s departure

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When the coaching carousel stops spinning for one school, another program takes a ride.

With Nebraska’s hire of Mike Riley, the Oregon State Beavers were left in the lurch. Riley was Oregon State’s head coach from 2003-14. It was his second stint with the program after leaving in 1998 to become the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Riley was a staple in Corvallis. Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis will now have to make his second hire for the football program since taking over Beavers sports.

De Carolis released a statement Thursday expressing his thoughts on Riley’s departure:

While De Carolis wouldn’t comment on the Beavers’ coaching search, it’s already been determined that the program won’t hire from within, according to The Oregonian‘s John Canzano.

An unexpected name already entered the conversation to replace Riley…former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke.

Despite Hoke’s recent track record at Michigan, he previously turned around programs at Ball State and San Diego State. While the former Wolverines coach isn’t the most enticing candidate at the moment, he makes some sense for Oregon State due to his experience and ties to the program.

Oregon Ducks make case to be ranked No. 1 overall

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The College Football Playoff committee uses each week as an opportunity to reassess its entire rankings.

This week the Oregon Ducks should enter the conversation to be ranked No. 1 overall.

While a 47-19 victory during the Civil War against the Oregon State Beavers isn’t exactly a major resume builder, cracks were revealed in the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide’s exterior during this year’s vision of the Iron Bowl.

Alabama dug deep and earned an impressive 55-44 victory against the No. 15 Auburn Tigers. But the Crimson Tide was exposed in areas where the Ducks excel.

First and foremost, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is the best player in the country. Even if an argument breaks out that Mariota isn’t the nation’s top player, he’s clearly a superior quarterback to Alabama’s Blake Sims.

Sims threw three interceptions against Auburn, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban considered pulling him from the contest. Sims redeemed himself during the second half, but Mariota hasn’t even thrown three interceptions all season.

The Heisman favorite was nearly flawless against the rival Beavers. Mariota only threw six incomplete passes. The Ducks quarterback also accounted for six touchdowns.

Oregon clearly owns an advantage at the game’s most important position.

Second, Auburn wore down Alabama’s defense by playing with constant tempo. Gus Malzahn‘s offense racked up 630 yards against Alabama’s vaunted defense. If Auburn capitalized on three early red zone trips instead of kicking field goals each time, the complexion of the game could have been very different.

Like Auburn, Oregon can play at a breakneck pace and cause plenty of problems for Alabama’s defense.

Oregon also has the play-makers to exploit the Crimson Tide’s lack of talent at cornerback. Auburn’s pair of starting wide receivers combined for 327 receiving yards.

While the Ducks’ skill players don’t present the same size mismatch outside, they are quick and difficult to cover in small areas if Mariota is given time to throw. Byron Marshall accounted for 165 total yards on only eight touches Saturday.

Finally, Oregon should have been ranked higher than Alabama initially.

Prior to the Crimson Tide defeating then No. 1 Mississippi State, Alabama was ranked fifth overall, while Oregon was sitting at the second slot. A loss to the No. 1 overall team usually allows the program just behind them to take over the top spot. Instead, the committee found a way to rationalize placing Alabama at No. 1 overall and leapfrogging the Ducks. However, Mississippi State is now a two-loss team after losing to the Ole Miss Rebels in the Egg Bowl. Alabama’s best win is not as impressive today as it was last week

Oregon’s only loss came at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats. The Ducks will have an opportunity to avenge their line defeat in next weekend’s Pac-12 Championship Game and roll into the inaugural College Football Playoff.

Thankfully, all of this will finally be settled on the field, whether Oregon and Alabama eventually meet in a a semifinal contest or the National Championship Game (as long as they don’t falter in their conference championship games).

Marcus Mariota putting on a show during the Civil War

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How good is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota?

When Oregon traveled to Corvallis for this year’s edition of “The Civil War”, the rivalry became an afterthought due to the Heisman hopeful’s dominant play.

The No. 2 Ducks easily handled the Beavers through the first half of play. Oregon leads 30-3. Mariota led the way to establish such a commanding lead.

A late field goal by Oregon State did nothing to take the luster off a dominant performance by Oregon and its quarterback.

Mariota was deadly with his accuracy. The junior signal-caller shredded Oregon State’s zone coverage. He threw with anticipation after manipulating the defense to his liking.

The Ducks quarterback finished the half 13-of-18 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns. Mariota, who is the most dangerous dual-threat quarterback in the nation, also ran for 40 yards and another score.

His four-touchdown performance placed Mariota in elite territory:

The performance was so dominant that Mariota almost appears to be a lock to win this year’s Heisman Trophy at this point in the season.

Mariota wasn’t the only player on the field for Oregon, though.

Freshman running back Royce Freeman continues to grow and excel each week. The young runner averaged 6.2 yards per carry on 11 touches.

Overall, Oregon remained balanced on offense. The team’s run-to-pass ratio was close to even with 19 rushing attempts and 18 passes.

Also, the defense stepped up against the Beavers’ experienced quarterback Sean Mannion. The senior was only 11-of-23 passing for a woeful 79 yards.

A pair of fourth-down stops helped the Ducks appear even more dominant.

With the Alabama Crimson Tide struggling against the Auburn Tigers, the second half could be very important for Oregon. A continued dominant effort may be enough for the College Football Playoff committee to rank the Ducks No. 1 overall this week. As a result, Oregon State shouldn’t expect their rival to let up during the second half.