This week in Pac-12 football the Beavers take on the Cougars of Washington State. WSU is the second place team in the North and is riding a 5 game win streak heading into Corvallis. They are unconventional on both sides of the ball and will be a big test for the Beavers. As they prepare to step on the field at Reser, where do they stack up position by position with the Mid-Valley’s finest:
Luke Falk vs. Marcus McMariyon
Luke Falk is the straw that stirs the Air Raid drink with a 72.7% completion percentage leading to 2,511 yards, 19 TDs and just 5 INT.
Marcus McMaryion will be making his second start of the season and is currently completing 48.6% of his passes for 224 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT’s.
When dealing with an offense like WSU’s, stats alone are not enough to give a QB the edge. That being said, Falk is a very accurate passer and is making the most of this role on the team. I think Luke is an exceptional QB and if he was a Beaver would easily be starting.
Jamall Marrow, James Williams and Gerard Wicks vs. Ryan Nall, Art Pierce, Paul Lucas and Time Cook.
WSU’s three headed monster of running backs has rushed for 832 yards on the year, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and scoring 20 TD’s.
The Beavers are not sure who will play and how much, but between those four they have amassed 937 yards for an average of 5.7 yards per carry and scoring 9 TD’s.
Oregon State is a rushing team and when you factor in our second leading rusher Victor Bolden and our fourth leading rusher Darrell Garretson, the Beavers are one of the premier rushing teams in the conference. WSU has some good backs, but the the Beavers have had multiple 100 yard rushers on their team and seem to be able to get yards on the ground against anyone.
Them vs. Us
WSU has so many receivers that are contributors, it is not worth isolating them.
The Beavers have two receivers with over 100 yards receiving on the year .
While the system plays a huge role in the productivity of these units, WSU has 9 players with over 100 yards on the season. Marks, Cracraft, Margin, JR. and Sweets are all great receivers that are making the most of the system they have.
WSU has a very underrated offensive line that is playing at a very high level right now. While not a running team, WSU has is averaging over 5 yards per carry and also have the 3rd ranked passing offense. With as much as they pass, they also have allowed just one more sack than the Beavers, while passing over 150 times more.
The Beavers have improved their line play, and stabilized their lineup the past few weeks. They only gave up one sack to UW and did a good job of opening holes up the middle against a very good defense.
WSU might be, in my opinion, the second best line in the North. The Beavers have vastly improved the last few weeks, and the return of Fred Lauina should give them more speed on pulls and more options in their blocking scheme.
While there will not be anything like we saw at UW in the near future, WSU has a decent run defense and is ranked second in the conference in rushing yards allowed. The constant activity up front and unique twisting stunts will cause OSU fits all game. Hercules Mata'afa is probably the best true defensive end we have seen. If senior NT Robert Barber is out, that is good news for the Beavers.
OSU’s defensive line is what it is now. They are getting better and work hard but are not getting pressure and are not able to stop the run.
I am not sure that the Cougars have a better line, but their best player is better than the Beavers best player. At least in terms of defensive line.
Advantage: WSU (slight)
Peyton Pueller is a legit all conference player, but Dotson and Hanser are not as good. Pueller will need to be accounted for on most plays. The Beavers will have to maintain their blocks or he will come off the edge and make the play.
OSU’s starting linebackers have seen a ton of injuries at their DE/LB hybrid position, but the play of Caleb Saulo, Bright Ugwoegbu and Manase Hungalu has been pretty stout and getting better.
I have to say that as good as Peyton Pueller is, Saulo, Uhngalu and Ugwoegbu have really elevated their game the last few weeks.
WSU’s secondary has the unenviable situation of being forced to cover all the time because of the offense they play with. They are a pressing, attacking secondary like their offense and will force OSU to try and beat them deep and keep Hercules out of their backfield.
Oregon State’s secondary took their lumps versus UW, but who hasn’t? I think this will be a rough bounce back game and while the stats may not show it, I think WSU will have to work for their yards against the conference’s 4th ranked pass defense.
I like the synchronicity of offense and defensive philosophies for WSU. They press, challenge and take chances. We will see if it works against the Beavers. That being said, I have no doubt that in terms of skill and play as a unit, OSU’s is one of the best in the conference. Especially with as poor of a pass rush as they have.
Washington State is not really a great special teams squad. Their coverage teams are towards the bottom of the conference, their return games are ok, but their field goal kicker is atrocious.
The Beavers on the other hand are leading the conference in kick returns, are in the top half of all major categories, have one of the better punters in the conference and a slightly better field goal kicker
Owens has really struggled lately. My hope is that we have decent weather and he can bounce back this week and get his confidence back. It reminds me of Cesca a bit, because Owens was very consistent last year and early this year. Hopefully he takes steps forward this week!
For the first time this year in Pac-12 play, I have OSU being better at more positions than the Cougars. So that should be a win right?
Well, unfortunately, the QB and WR categories are A LOT better than OSU’s. I also think that this system will be difficult for the Beavers to defend. It is an all hands on deck approach and they cannot just shut down Marks or Cracraft and stop them.
On offense, they are going to have to stay in it and not be forced to go through the air all game. Hercules will get to McMaryion if we let him. Hopefully the Beavers can run up the middle with Baker out. Having seen the team's struggles with twist stunts and picking up delayed blitzes in the last few weeks, I have concerns about the shifting and twisting nature of this defense. We are going to need to win some battles up front.
That being said, I am not super confident this week. I would not be shocked to see a Beaver win, but like Vegas, I would not be shocked if it was a two score loss. Oregon State is far closer to Washington State this year than last year, but I think we are still a year away from shocking the Cougars.