BF.C COMMENTARY: The Monday Morning QB

BEING AN OREGON STATE FAN is not for the weak. Every once in a while they get just good enough to make you think, ‘Wow, they're really close, and they're young, and they only lose a couple of these guys. I think next year…' and then the Gods of Football strike you down.

Your dreams are smashed like Courtney Love at an Amsterdam wedding with an open bar. Hey Cubs fans, you've got nothing on us on Beavs. ‘This program is never ever going to win a National Championship,' snickers the rich kid whose entire family owes their wealth and status to the fabulously rich uncle who invented Velcro. Thank you Richie Rich, you might be right. Unless Oregon State can find an uncle to invent a better Velcro, that is. But until then…

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Depth issues at Oregon State are usually crippling. If you're Mike Riley, you typically find that you can round out a nice looking set of starters. The issue is, at only a few of those spots is there a backup who is truly capable/ready to truly play at a Pac-12 level.

The loss to Arizona State Saturday night saw the Beav offensive line just flat out manhandled by the ASU d-line. And the problem this season is that Oregon State doesn't have that same advantage on their defensive line.

Indeed, it was a revolving door on the Beaver offensive line -- they struggled all night just to protect Mannion for three seconds. I know, I timed them.

Meanwhile, the OSU defensive line just doesn't have that rotation needed, that of 4-deep at defensive tackle. Mana Rosa is a high motor guy who would benefit by less snaps, but higher production. Former starter John Braun is out for the season, so now the rotation features lots of PT for guys who were third on the depth chart. And it wasn't a strong d-line coming into the season in the first place.

AS NOTED ABOVE, I sat down intending, for curiosity's sake, to gather some data on how much time on average Mannion was getting in the pocket. I also ended up jotting down odd thoughts here and there.

One thing I noticed: Schematically, it looked like defensive coordinator Mark Banker had his guys prepared to contain Taylor Kelly. It's clear they respected his feet enough to make a concerted effort to contain the mobile QB, who had torn the last couple teams ASU faced with his work on the ground.

They held him to six yards on eight carries. ASU eventually stopped trying to have Kelly run. I think this bodes well for the immediate future. Washington quarterback Keith Price -- if he is able to play (shoulder) -- has some decent mobility and can be dangerous on his feet. So can his potential replacement, Cyler Miles, although less so. But after what OSU did against ASU in this area, they should be able to limit whoever the Husky QB is on Saturday.

THE GAME BETWEEN Oregon State and ASU was like watching two heavyweights -- but not evenly matched ones. One is a little more clever and has a big heart, but physically he just looks overmatched right from the start. The skillset is there, just not the physicality nor the strength in reserve. Eventually, the inevitable happens and the fighter who is physically superior imposes his will. That's what happened against Arizona State. The Beavers, plain and simple, were overmatched.

So now what? Looking forward for the remainder of the season, what can you expect from Oregon State?

Well, there isn't another defensive line or front seven on the schedule like ASU's. The Sun Devil secondary is not a spectacularly talented group but the pressure their front seven applies helps leverage a fair bit of turnovers. They're "good" and buoyed to "excellent" by virtue of their talented, nasty front seven.

Washington and Oregon present their own challenges, but their front seven is not at the level of ASU's. Against lesser defensive lines than ASU's, the Beavers can continue to execute the offense. And the good news is, they are lesser defensive lines these next two weeks.

UW running back Bishop Sankey worries me a bit. OSU will have to work hard to keep him contained. It's been a rough three game skid for the Beavs but the Washington game is highly winnable.

AND THAT GOT me thinking, anecdotally, about the years where Oregon State captured a little bit of lightning in a bottle and had a great season. On the good seasons, in terms of avoiding injuries, the Beavs did remarkably well. And then every season where it seemed like the Beavers fell on their collective faces, injuries seem a major contributor to the struggles the team faced.

And it hit me. Oregon State wins games, lots of them, when nobody-to-few starters are injured. When somebody is going to miss a few weeks, that's normal for most programs. But for the Beavers, it's crippling. Programs that have higher ranked recruiting classes don't necessarily have better players, schemes and game plans. But they DO have the depth to absorb an injury or two. Right now, Oregon State does not.

I know, some will say that's just an excuse. It's not, it's an explanation. But regardless of what you call it, you can probably expect more of those in the future too from me because I believe – in the Beavers, and in Mike Riley.

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