GAME DAY: Can Beavs run on ASU?

CORVALLIS – Oh what BeavFans would give Saturday night for a Terron Ward repeat performance vs. ASU. Last year, Ward, subbing for an injured Storm Woods, broke off 146 rushing yards and a TD. On Saturday night in Tempe, the Beavs have the benefit of a healthy Woods plus Ward, a bye week under their belts and a healthier offensive line. So how will the OSU run game shape up on Saturday?

Well, Oregon State running backs coach Chris Brasfield seemed relatively confident earlier this week.

He said that with Woods and Ward in fighting trim, his unit has every opportunity to do some damage on the ground against the Sun Devils.

"It's just nice to have two really good football players," Brasfield said. "We've got good depth at the position and those guys, they've been in the system awhile now, they know what's expected, they know what we're trying to do, so it makes you feel good. It gives us a chance."

But will Woods in Ward be the only horses in the Beaver run game?

I'm skeptical, and here's why.

Freshman running back Chris Brown has been making noise in practice over the last two weeks, and confidence has been a good color on him. And the more comfortable Brown has become via both practice and limited game experience, the more evident it is that the third string runner has talent that can only be overlooked much longer, despite Mike Riley indicating about 10 days ago he didn't foresee any backfield changes.

"He's building confidence… he's playing on most of our special teams, and that's really going to help him as well as a running back with pass-pro, being physical and things like that," Brasfield. "He's got unbelievable potential, and like I said we've got good depth in our position. We like what we've got in Chris."

Brasfield pinpointed exactly what it was that could make Brown such a valuable option in the long term, and maybe even the short term.

"Foot speed - he hits the hole very well," he said. "His timing is really good, he runs hard – he has the ability to put one foot in the ground and go another direction… I think he's got a chance to be a complete running back."

THAT'S NOT TO say Woods and Ward are incomplete running backs. But it doesn't take a college professor to see they work best when they are rotating constantly, keeping defenses guessing as to whether or not they will actually run the ball (rarely this season) or work out in the pattern.

It helps keep the running platoon energized, and can confuse unprepared defenses. If Brown were tossed into the mix occasionally, it might help the Beavers in…

"Just being able to have guys that are fresh, playing full speed every play," Brasfield said. "When you have depth at the position, it gives you that ability to just kind of keep going and play harder, and give our team a chance to win."

Brasfield doesn't think yardage on the ground will come easily on Saturday. Oregon State is ranked 121st in the nation in rushing yards, and an already uphill battle in 2013 isn't going to wane against a stout ASU defense.

"It will be a tough challenge," Brasfield said. "They don't waste a lot of time, they like bringing pressure and that's what they do. We'll have to be sound in knowing who we're blocking, knowing what we're supposed to do on every assignment and try to execute a little bit better than them."

ASU is statistically the top defense in the Pac-12, and most pundits feel Sun Devil defensive linemen Will Sutton and Carl Bradford are expected to win the day against the OSU front five. One of the best ways to combat the blitz however, is by running the ball right at ‘em. Bully them up the middle and utilize the play-action to beat them deep. This could be right up OSU's alley – if they would go to it. But OSU doesn't sound like they agree with that.

"There's always potential, but you've got to execute," Brasfield said. "They've got a game plan against us, and we've got one against them. And whoever plays the best football is going to get the win."

IT'S ANOTHER LATE ONE for the Beavers, the tilt with the Devils is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. PT. This will be the seventh night game for OSU in 10 contests, (starting after 5 p.m.).

"It makes for long nights on the way back from the game, but you know, it's nice to have the exposure as well," Brasfield said. "We get to play some really good TV games, people all across the country get to check us out and check out Beaver Nation."

From this chair, based on what I've seen in practice, hopefully those people get to check out what Chris Brown can do down in the desert.

BeaverBlitz Top Stories