OSU vs. Cal: Against the grain

CAL COMES TO town on Saturday night (Pac-12 Networks, 7:30 p.m.) and both the Beavs (2-game) and the Bears (3-game) are looking to snap losing streaks. Cal boasts a dangerous offense, but their defense may be just what the Beavs need. The Bears do not defend the pass well, which is why I expect Oregon State to open the game by running the ball. Wait. What?

Teams that have generated a solid pass rush have made Oregon State’s offense look ordinary, or worse. (Stanford, USC, Utah).

But Cal has not only the worst pass defense in the Pac-12, they have the nation’s worst pass defense.

Which is why I expect Mike Riley to do what he often does to start a game – go against the grain and run, run, run the ball at the start. After that first series, though, Riley likes to switch things up if history is any indication.

Part of the thinking there is to catch the opponent off guard – twice.

Cal is allowing 383.5 ypg passing (125th nationally, 12th Pac-12).

Cal’s rush defense gives up an average of 149.6 ypg (51st nationally, 5th Pac-12)

But working against Oregon State, the Beavs will need this week to get things shored up on an offensive line that’s been decimated by injury.

Dustin Stanton, who came in when Gavin Andrews went down (ankle, 1-3 more weeks) did not practice Monday and was scheduled to get an MRI according to the Oregonian. That would seem telling as to his availability for Saturday.

Garrett Weinreich was at right tackle with the 1s on Monday, with LT Sean Harlow, LG Fred Lauina, C Josh Mitchell and Roman Sapolu at right guard.

That’s a whole lot of shuffling and replacements from where the Beavs began the season, and they began the season as they stand now – without star center Isaac Seumalo, who is expected to redshirt after his surgically repaired foot, injured in last year’s bowl game, has been slow to heal.

Still, even with a patchwork o-line, Oregon State should be able to give Sean Mannion more time. And that should lead to the Beavers’ offense looking a whole lot better than it did against Stanford.

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