The Oregon State Beavers have been considered a sleeper team despite when they went 10-4 and 9-4 in 2006 and 2007 respectively, as well as finishing third both years.
I then ask myself why are they predicted to be eighth in the Pac-10 this upcoming season by so many analysts.
Last season Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao fought for the starting job at quarterback, posing the cliched question "If you have two quarterbacks, do you really have one?"
This season Moevao will be the starter come football season with only a great off-season by Canfield being able to dethrone him.
The receiving unit gets a surge with the return of All-American Sammie Stroughter, who is coming back after having lacerated his kidney, causing him to medical redshirt in 2007. With sophomores Darrell Catchings and James Rodgers returning as well, the Beavers have one of the most experienced group of receivers in the Pac-10.
One of the larger issues surrounding Beavers' camp is who will be filling the shoes of 8th leading rusher in Pac-10 history, Yvenson Bernard. Freshman Jacquizz Rodgers and Ryan McCants and junior Jeremy Francis have all had good off-season showings, so it appears that it will be a rushing game by committee in the upcoming season.
The offensive line loses center Kyle Devan and Roy Shuening to graduation, but returns veterans Jeremy Perry and Andy Levitre. Moevao has lost 25 lbs. over the summer which will take some heat off of the line if he is able to move around the pocket.
The biggest concern around the team is how the defensive front seven will be able to recuperate after losing all of their starters. The good news for Beaver fans is that defensive coordinator Mike Banker had a lot of players rotating through the line and many returners will have game experience, including defensive ends Slade Norris and Victor Butler. The D-Line should also gain a boost by the top rated JC transfer by rivals.com, Simi Kuli.
Brandon Hughes, Keenan Lewis, and hard-hitting safety Al Afalava round out a veteran defensive back unit that returns all of last season starters.
The schedule will also help the Beavers try to win games, with the toughest games at home. USC, Oregon, Arizona State, and Cal will all have to travel to Corvallis.
All of the pieces are in place for the Beavs to "surprise the Pac-10" once again, even though to those around Oregon State football it was never a surprise.