OSU vs. SDSU: Who has the edge?

THERE ARE A number of pretty close positional breakdowns in looking at Oregon State vs. San Diego State. And that could mean that a few key ones could spell the difference between winning and losing. Take the SDSU secondary, for example.

But first we'll start with the d-line and the matchup particulars.

Oregon State (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. San Diego State (1-1, 0-0 Mountain West)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Reser Stadium
Where: Reser Stadium
TV: Fox Sports 1


Defensive line:
SDSU is deep here, they can rotate up to seven, and they will square off against a banged-up Oregon State offensive line that has allowed five sacks in two games against lesser competition. That said, the Aztecs’ defense has only managed two sacks this season – both from linebackers (Derek Largent and Fred Melifonwu.) But you don't always have to get a sack - SDSU has 10 quarterback hurries in two games. Senior defensive end Sam Meredith will start in place of an injured Dontrell Onuoha, the d-line's best player. Meredith will team with sophomore end Jon Sanchez, a run-stuffing specialist, and sophomore tackle Alex Barrett. All three starters are solid, but the line's strength is its depth. The Beavers employ a productive three-man rotation of Siale Hautau, Bud Delva and Jalen Grimble at defensive tackle, with Dylan Wynn and Jaswha James on the edges. They lack the depth of SDSU and while mostly solid, have not yet set the world on fire the first couple of games
Edge: San Diego State

Linebacker:
SDSU has a pair of senior starters in Josh Gavert and Cody Galea at linebacker. Another senior, Derek Largent, has filled in capably for injured Jake Fely. Their ability to blitz Mannion could determine who wins this one. Oregon State also has three senior starters and they've got more depth than SDSU behind them. Michael Doctor, D.J. Alexander and Jabral Johnson, plus Rommel Mageo and Caleb Saulo figure to be the better unit in a lot of games this season.
Edge: Oregon State

Secondary:
Here is where Mannion, and Beaver running backs racing into the second level, can do some damage. All three SDSU safeties who have played are first-year starters in SDSU's 3-3-5 defense. They've been pretty decent in tackling, but have had some misplays in coverage. At corner, senior J.J. Whittaker is a good one. And sophomore Damontae Kazee is underrated. But there's not much behind those two. OSU senior Steven Nelson is on pace for postseason honors in his second year at Oregon State and another underrated corner, junior Larry Scott, was much more active against Hawaii after PSU. Senior safeties Ryan Murphy and Tyrequek Zimmerman are among the conference's best though they can have a lapse here and there.
Edge: Oregon State

Quarterback:
SDSU quarterback Quinn Kaehler is a former walk on who led SDSU to eight wins in games he started. He racked up 3,007 passing yards with 19 touchdowns against just six interceptions. The meltdown at North Carolina, however, saw Kaehler toss three picks. Sean Mannion, when given time, is right in the conversation of College football's elite QBs. He'll move past Derek Anderson for the program's all-time passing yards record Saturday with 187 yards. If SDSU gets heat on him, however, things may turn sour.
Edge: Oregon State

Offensive line:
Three of SDSU's five offensive linemen own at least 12 starts. Senior Terry Poole, a preseason All-Mountain West first team selection, started 12 games last season at right tackle before moving to the blind side. Junior right guard Darrell Greene has 14 starts, and senior center Zach Dilley boasts 20. The group has done an above-average job protecting the quarterback, surrendering just two sacks. It has also been effective opening holes in the run game. For OSU, Isaac Seumalo still isn't ready and sophomore right tackle Sean Harlow didn't practice this past week. Sophomore Garrett Weinreich is back but maybe not 100 percent, and senior Roman Sapolu probably gets the nod there. OSU is simply banged up, even after the bye.
Edge: San Diego State

Wide Receiver/Tight End:
SDSU saw star senior wideout Ezell Ruffin go down two weeks ago. That means WRs Eric Judge and Larry Clark and tight end Robert Craighead have to step up - there isn't a lot of depth here. Judge is averaging 18.1 yards per catch and Craighead can turn quick middle screens into long gains if the OSU linebackers take a wrong step. Victor Bolden was stellar against Hawaii and that could turn into a confidence-boosting coming out party this week -- he has the chance to be special and that might mean now rather than later after his 119 receiving yards two weeks ago and with the SDSU defensive backs being what they are. Don't sleep on Richard Mullaney, who also showed signs vs. Hawaii he might be ready to make some noise. The slot position still has more questions than answers, with Malik Gilmore and Hunter Jarmon disappearing at times during the first two weeks. TEs Connor Hamlett is a matchup nightmare for most teams and Caleb Smith isn't far behind. The key to blunting SDSU's rush could be found in Mannion checking down to his tight ends and h-backs and then watching them pile up the yards after the catch.
Edge: Oregon State

Running Back:
The rushing success in the loss to North Carolina was not lost on Beaver coaches. Outside runner Donnel Pumphrey (17 carries, 100 yards) and inside threat Chase Price (16 carries, 71 yards) tore it up. OSU meanwhile has has produced 340 yards in two games behind Storm Woods and Terron Ward. Pumphrey only needs a crease and he's gone, and he'll catch screens and passes in the flat. Price is the battering ram used in short-yardage. This is the closest matchup, and the Beavs still have to prove they can do it behind an o-line hit hard by injury.
Edge: San Diego State


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