OSU 2013 Season in Review: Safety

CORVALLIS – The final BF.C 2013 position review focuses on the safeties. OSU seemed to have two of the best at the position at the start of the season. And although there were certainly some big moments from both, there were also some shortcomings. Should we reserve sentiment upon review of the duo's efforts in ‘13?

No.

Call me a harsh critic, but too much of the yardage earned through the air in 2013 could be chalked up to too many mistakes on behalf of Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman.

This is not to say that every inch of the 3,302 yards the Beavs allowed through the air resulted from the duo not quite living up to expectations. A defense is not good or bad based on the performances of just two players and a defensive backfield's performance is affected by the front seven, the pass rush or lack thereof and more.

Still, both were partially responsible for some key missteps.

OSU headed into the Eastern Washington game rustier than anyone expected and it was most apparent in their attempts to defend the deep ball. Eagles' QB Vernon Adams shredded the Oregon State defense, completing eight passes for 20-plus yards, four of which went for a touchdown and three of those four TD's were the direct result of Zimmerman and Murphy being caught out of position.

That specific problem may have been rectified to an extent in games to follow EWU, but others arose.

They played too deep or too shallow in coverage that game, rarely finding that happy medium 15-20 yards off the line of scrimmage prior to the snap, and this tendency was repeated by both over the course of the season.

When it came to tracking, Zimmerman seemed to actually regress from his junior season in 2012, connecting with and eventually bringing down a ball carrier in the open field. Frankly, I'm a bit shocked that he led Oregon State for tackles in 2013 (notching 104 total) because there were multiple missed takedowns.

Murphy's respectable 74 tackles and three interceptions throughout the season lose some luster due to an occasional complacency in defending the run and pass. There were times when flashes of Murphy's defensive instincts and predator-like performances that characterized his 2012 campaign seemed all but absent in big matchups, the prime example being the Washington debacle.

My observations - which not everyone will agree with - could have resulted from multiple intangible factors, coaching strategies and minor injuries chief among them.

Yet the improvement so many expected, myself included, was lacking. I simply did not witness Murphy and Zimmerman with enough continuity on Saturdays. Furthermore, their respective backups – the now graduated Steven Christian and sophomore-to-be Zack Robinson, were rarely used and accumulated but 17 tackles collectively, with no further stats to speak of.

Murphy can still become an elite player by the end of this next season -- he's shown too many flashes, too much potential not to be in that class. And Zimmerman is being eyed as a possible undrafted NFL free agent type. But the 2013 season at safety at OSU, one that began with very high expectations, was just not enough to write home about from my chair. Grade C

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