Beavs run past Utah by unconventional means

CORVALLIS – There were no big pass plays for Oregon State in Week 6 – to date the Beavs' bread and butter on offense. And if you only looked at it on paper, the 21-7 win for Oregon State (6-0) over Utah (2-5) might seem underwhelming in at least a few areas. But if you peel back the layers and look below the surface, something highly intriguing emerges…

There was little offensive production by either side for the majority of the game. Oregon State QB Cody Vaz amassed 174 air yards on 16-26 passing, and no touchdowns. Utah QB Travis Wilson was nearly a mirror image, with 172 yards on 15-28 passing (two INT's, two sacks).

But sometimes, slow and steady wins the race. But that story includes a tortoise and a hare – and there was no hare in this matchup. The usual OSU suspect for that role, Brandin Cooks, only touched the ball thrice, once on an eight yard reception and twice more on fly sweeps out of the backfield that totaled 11 hashes.

The receiving game, the offensive crown jewel of the Beavers' undefeated 2012 season, was stale on Saturday. Hold the phone, because this was the first game all season where an OSU receiver didn't cross the pylons for six.

So where the hell did those 21 points come from?

Answer : Storm Woods.

The Beavs' running back found success against Utah in what had started to become a foreign notion for the 2012 Beavs – scoring touchdowns on the ground.

All three of OSU's touchdowns came on the ground, and all three were courtesy of Woods. The majority of the ground game's success came in the red zone, a marked improvement in that area for OSU. Woods officially ending the game with a modest 46 yards on 17 carries, but stats can be deceiving. Unless of course you're looking at the three TDs.

FROM THIS CHAIR, you can thank Colin Kelly, Josh Andrews, Grant Enger, Michael Philipp and Isaac Seumalo for this Beaver victory. Indeed, the OSU offensive line has become the most impressive assets of this Oregon State football squad on offense, fall camp observations be damned.

Perhaps the most intriguing aspects of this game for those watching closely was the matchup between a senior defensive tackle and a true freshman center, and how this matchup really came to life in the red zone.

Minus the mud, an intense battle transpired in the trenches, with Seumalo and Star Lotulelei going head to head. Props to Seumalo – Lotulelei has commanded the attention of two or three opposing linemen at a time in past games, a lesson learned the hard way via Khaled Holmes of USC recently.

But Seumalo (with a little help from his friends) kept Lotulelei at bay, allowing some breathing room for an Oregon State running game that has struggled to emerge and join the passing game as the Beavers' Modus operandi.

EARLIER THIS WEEK I wrote about how the Utes' trip to Corvallis could be a trap game – expect the unexpected, we said - especially from Wilson, a sizeable running threat, it seemed.

But linebacker D.J. Welch Alexander (formerly Welch), DEs Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn and DT Rudolf Fifita managed to keep that flame from ever igniting.

The OSU front seven impressed today – notching two sacks and a combined seven tackles for loss with a forced fumble.

Granted, Utah accumulated 175 yards on the ground between three backs, with John White (20 carries for 71 yards) and Kevin York (52 yards on 10 runs) doing most of the damage.

But other than the relaxed approach of the Oregon State offense and the uncharacteristic success of the Utah run game, the only thing that was all that unexpected Saturday night in Corvallis was the weather. A mere drizzle in the second half was all – a stark contrast to the heavy wind and rain previously forecasted for this Saturday night showdown.

Well, that and a Beaver running game that found the end zone. Thrice.

The Beavs next head to Seattle to take on Washington with the hopes of going 7-0 at Century Link Field. They'll face a struggling but versatile Husky team with plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball. Look for this week's "Position Breakdown" article for the inside scoop on Week 7 for the Beavs.

  • The game on offense was characterized by short, simple plays –highly indicative of a Mike Riley offense. Flashy? No. Effective? A winning strategy against a team like Utah? Yep.

  • Beaver Nation showed up strong, with 45,769 in attendance and the prospect of going 6-0 for the first time since 1907. They weren't disappointed.

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