OSU 2013 Season in Review: Cornerback

CORVALLIS – OSU's 2013 season saw two corners notch six interceptions apiece. Lump that stat in with a combined 172 tackles, 14 interceptions, 14 passes broken up and 28 passes deflected between three Beaver cornerbacks and the implementation of the nickel package in Corvallis starts to look like a gift from college football heaven.

Sure, there were bumps and bruises along the way in the defensive backfield, and some games left a small but vocal portion of fans looking to strap concrete shoes to the careers of defensive coordinator Mark Banker and secondary coach Rod Perry.

But if one takes a few questionable play calls out of the equation and looks at the big picture, it's hard to grumble much. Indeed, if one looks at strength of schedule, a few off-and-on injuries and the fact that OSU's corners were a) human and b) too often called on to produce run support as well as pass protection, the corners' performance ended up being pretty darn impressive in 2013.

Much of that has to do with the efforts of three key cornerbacks.

The now-graduated Rashaad Reynolds and senior-to-be Steven Nelson took their fair share of risks in gathering six picks in 2013, but rarely did they completely blow an assignment or get shredded by opposing wideouts for playing as aggressively as they did.

From this chair, Reynolds and Nelson played focused, hard-nosed football that was the product of more than just solid talent, but great coaching.

Starting senior nickel corner Sean Martin had a mixed year but ultimately he was trending up. At times he lacked consistency and struggled with blown coverages, poor reads and a couple of plays that produced a full body shake-n-shudder.

Other times, it was easy to see that Martin had learned quite a bit from his old roommate, Jordan Poyer. Martin also snagged two big interceptions on the season.

Opponents averaged 246.3 passing yards a game against OSU in '13. To add a little context to that figures, I dug through stat logs of all 13 games.

In a game that has come to accept 400-yard passing games are no longer rare, Beaver pass defenders only allowed one team to toss the rock for over 400 yards… Eastern Washington in the opener.

Aside from that horrendous loss, the Beaver corners worked toward locking down the competition and allowed just two teams to crest over the 300-yard mark for passing in a game.

Furthermore, they kept five opponents under 300 yards passing and another five under 200 yards. They even kept Kevin Hogan of Stanford quiet with just 88 hashes through the air.

Reynolds, Martin and Nelson were instrumental in the Beavers' success in halting solid passing attacks.

And the efforts of a burgeoning Larry Scott (nine tackles and one INT) should not be taken for granted.

It's also important to note that the Beaver corners had to apply their coverage a long time on many an occasion when the pass rush fell short.

Good stuff all around for the unit at Oregon State in 2013, and my grade for the cornerbacks is a solid B

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