WEEK 2: Let's talk Hawaii vs. Beavs

ONE OF TWO things is going to happen when Oregon State hosts Hawaii on Saturday. Based on both teams' respective openers, Hawaii at home against USC and Oregon State playing host to Eastern Washington, there doesn't look to be a lot of gray area here.

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Either Oregon State is going to struggle and it's going to be close… or the Beavs are going to run roughshod over Hawaii and take out their frustrations big-time.

I'm guessing it's going to be the latter, perhaps akin to Oregon State's 45-7 thrashing of Hawaii in 2008.

This isn't, in terms of athleticism and speed, a Hawaii team like vintages old.

They looked slow against USC, which doesn't say much for USC's performance either in the Trojans' underwhelming 30-13 win.

But one thing Hawaii is not is complacent.

They're always physical, and they'll always keep fighting, scratching and clawing until it's over when some other teams might tend to start folding up the tent.

They may not be as fast as their opponent in 2013, or have the lateral quickness to stay with some teams. But they are tough and if OSU gives them a crack of hope, they'll come at the Beavers ever harder.

THE HAWAII DEFENSE was the best thing about their game with USC. But was it because Hawaii is pretty good or because USC was mediocre with the ball? Probably a little of both. USC receivers had some drops. Neither of Southern Cal's quarterbacks looked to be an answer. The Trojan offensive line was a liability at times.

Of 15 offensive possessions for USC, six ended in punts and another three died because of Hawaii takeaways. But in response, UH could put only 13 points up on the board. And that spelled doom.

Oregon State may or may not run more than they did against EWU. If not there's likely to be continued grousing from fans, and with good reason, not the least of which is longer drives and keeping the other offense off the field.

But the Beavs do have the tools, with Brandin Cooks the primary chef's knife in the drawer, to slice and dice teams through the air. Sure it would be nice to see more balance and for OSU to run Storm Woods more. But you can't go too far away from your strengths either and right now, the Beaver air attack looks to be flying high.

Cooks, by the way, may be limited in practice this week but is expected to play Saturday. Still, the OSU offense vs. the Hawaii D doesn't figure to be the main storyline.

THE BEAVER D is facing redemption square in the face this week. And Redemption, thy name is Hawaii.

QB Taylor Graham completed only 16-of-41 passes for 208 yards with four interceptions and one touchdown against USC. And if possible, his performance was worse than the stat line indicates. Sure, his receivers had some drops. But the biggest thing was that his receivers were often open against USC, but Graham couldn't find them or couldn't accurately get it to them.

Graham is not a runner. He's a pure pocket passer. What EWU's quarterback did on the ground will not be repeated this Saturday by Hawaii.

Indeed, if ever there was a week for the Oregon State D, and particularly the secondary, to get well and bounce back, this is it.

No one will want it more on Saturday than the Beaver defensive backs, a group of veterans that played shockingly poor football in the opener.

S Ryan Murphy, CB Rashaad Reynolds and S Tyrequek Zimmerman are legit first-team all-conference candidates. Oh I know, that sounds ridiculous given what we all saw in Corvallis on Saturday. But they proved that point in 2012 -- over the course of an entire season. But it also won't hold up for much longer if they don't play like it in Week 2.

And if not, it's going to make for some head-in-hands moments for the Beaver Faithful.

But if they do rise up as I expect, if the Beaver D plays the way they were expected to last week, if they take their level of play from the '12 season and then take that next step, even though it will be a week late, then the bloom comes back on the rose.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Kickoff is at 5 p.m. TV: Pac-12 Networks.

  • Hawaii is in its second year of transitioning to more of a pro-style offense from the spread and even though many starters return across the board -- by one count 7 offense including most of the o-line, 8 defense – the growing pains were still very much in evidence in the opener.

  • Hawaii's base offense features a single-back, three-receiver look.

  • Hawaii's 4-3 base defense played fairly well for the most part against the run vs. USC, something they did not do in Norm Chow's first year at the helm last season.

  • Oregon State leads the series 5-3, with the Beavers winning the last meeting 45-7 in 2008.

  • Sean Mannion in the opener completed a sterling 37-of-43 passes for 422 yards and three touchdowns with no picks, while Cooks caught 13 passes for 196 yards and two scores.


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