MIKE LEACH AND MIKE RILEY would appear to be in complete agreement: Washington State’s offense is not going to change with new Cougar QB Luke Falk making his first collegiate start Saturday in Corvallis, (Pac-12 Networks, 1 p.m.) To expect otherwise, the Oregon State head man said, is a trap.
This doesn't fell like a case of opposing head coaches looking to employ a little early-week misdirection.
“It’s a trap to assume anything else,” Riley said when asked if he thought WSU would come out passing the same way they would if Connor Halliday
Leach said Saturday he called for more runs on Falk's (pictured above) first couple of series. But after that, Leach said WSU ran their normal offense -- and that he planned to do so against Oregon State as well.
Falk can probably expect to see some blitzes early on. It’s Football 101 that you send a lot of guys after a new/young quarterback until he shows he can burn the defense.
“We have to do a good job against them (in) pass rush," said Riley, "sound coverage, good tackling in the open field -- all of those things are going to be key factors."
Oregon State got burned most by Cal on the ground in the Beavs' 45-31 loss. Cal rushed for a season-high 269 hashes despite coming into the game averaging 133 ground yards per game. All signs point to Oregon State not having to worry much about a repeat performance by WSU.
Some of the Cougs’ pass plays, as RBs coach Jim Mastro
often notes, are basically runs. But officially, Cougar running backs average 15.4 rushes per game. WSU averages 84.8 total plays per game.
Oregon State is running the ball better compared to earlier in the year (and in 2013). They posted 148 net ground yards and a 6.4 yard average against Cal on Saturday. They are still a passing team, however, with 45 pass attempts vs. 23 rushes vs. the Bears. On the season, Oregon State running backs have carried the ball 236 times compared to 305 pass attempts.
The Beaver D, earlier this season ranked among conference and national leaders in several categories, has fallen off. There are several issues, including injuries and depth, but perhaps what stood out most against Cal was allowing 11 of 19 third down conversions while posting only one sack.
OSU has lost nine-of-10 Pac-12 games dating back to last season, (Oct. 9, 2013 vs. Cal). The Beavs' only win during that stretch was in Week Five of this year, a 36-31 win over Colorado.
Starting Beaver OL Gavin Andrews has an “outside chance of playing” this week against WSU, Riley said, sounding pessimistic.
Starting DE Lavonte Barnett should be back to full speed by middle of the week, hopefully, Riley said.
Riley said Barnett has a better chance of being ready to go that DE Jaswha James, with more tests pending today.
DT Jalen Grimble, out since the USC game with a knee injury, is doubtful for WSU.