Time for our weekly look at UW’s opponent, the dreaded Oregon State Beavers. Why dreaded? Well, for one, there’s all that orange and black. For another, there’s five straight wins over the Huskies. And for yet another, there’s the fact that the Beavers always seem to hit their stride the last half of the season, and seem to be doing it again, playing probably their best game of the year last Saturday in Berkeley, a 31-14 win over Cal in Berkeley just as the Huskies roll — or limp as the case may be — into town.
First, here is Oregon State’s schedule:
9/5 vs. Portland State W 34 – 7
9/12 at UNLV W 23 – 21
9/19 vs. 17 Cincinnati L 18 – 28
9/26 vs. Arizona L 32 – 37
10/3 at Arizona State W 28 – 17
10/10 vs. Stanford W 38 – 28
10/24 at 4 USC L 36 – 42
10/31 vs. UCLA W 26 – 19
11/7 at 23 California W 31 – 14
11/14 vs. Washington 12:30 PT
11/21 at Washington State TBA
12/3 at 14 Oregon 6:00 PT
Next, we’ll compare OSU’s stats and FBS rank with those of UW’s.
Here are OSU’s:
Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 3705 (40)
Passing Yards: 2519 (24)
Rushing Yards: 1186 (85)
Points per game: 29.6 (43)
Yards per game: 411.7 (34)
Touchdowns: 31 (47)
Field Goals: 16 (8)
Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 3280 (54)
Passing Yards: 2377 (108)
Rushing Yards: 903 (16)
Points per game: 23.7 (58)
Yards per game: 364.4 (65)
Touchdowns: 28 (73)
Field Goals: 2 (1)
Here are UW’s:
Offense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 3308 (77)
Passing Yards: 2203 (44)
Rushing Yards: 1105 (94)
Points per game: 24.4 (79)
Yards per game: 367.6 (67)
Touchdowns: 22 (100)
Field Goals: 15 (15)
Defense (FBS Rank)
Yards: 3843 (97)
Passing Yards: 2363 (107)
Rushing Yards: 1480 (84)
Points per game: 29.1 (89)
Yards per game: 427.0 (101)
Touchdowns: 26 (63)
Field Goals: 19 (118)
The two most glaring differences may be OSU’s run defense, 16th in the country, against UW’s running attack, which is 94th; and OSU’s passing offense , 24th in the country, vs. UW’s pass defense, 107th. Those who are picking OSU pretty much start right there with those two facets of the game.
Here’s what UW defensive coordinator Nick Holt had to say about the OSU offense:
“Their passing game is better because their quarterback (Sean Canfield) is playing better than in the past, whoever it was they had there. He’s at 70 percent completion rate and doing a nice job, and they are protecting well and running the ball more this year. On their first and second downs they are being smart about it and not getting into predictable situations and then when they do have to throw the ball, they have a nice attack and receivers who run good routes and they catch the ball really well. So they have a good offense.”
Here’s what UW coach Steve Sarkisian had to say about the OSU defense:
“When you look at Oregon State for years, you go all the way back to the Richard Sieglers and the Bill Swancutts and the Nick Barnetts, you can go all the way back to those guys. And you look at this group now, and there are some things that are very similar. One is they’re very good upfront. These guys, obviously it starts inside and works its way to the ‘backers. It seems like they play upwards to 10 defensive linemen. They roll them through. They play hard. Their corner play is like it always is: they get right in your face and they play physical with you. So this group, when you compare them to over the years, they’re very similar. Schematically, they do similar things. They play with the same amount of effort. They play physical with the receivers. And they’re opportunistic. They create turnovers when they need them, and they take advantage of them.”
And here’s what Sarkisian had to say about Canfield:
“He’s playing at an extremely high level. One thing they’re doing a nice job of, he’s not getting hit much. You look back at him earlier in his career, he was taking a bunch of sacks and getting hit a bunch. Now with what they’ve been able to do running the football, with their play-action game, with his ability to throw the ball down the field, they’ve become a very dangerous offense. He’s standing tall in the pocket, he’s confident. He’s getting his completions in the short game, and he’s making you pay on the deep ball. You touched on it, and I’m just agreeing with you: he’s playing at a very high level.”
Finally, here’s the word on the Beavers from Oregonian beat writer Paul Buker , kind enough to write this little essay on the team especially for this blog:
“Status report from Lunchpail U.
There were fears in Corvallis that this team, with eight new starters on defense and a potentially-suspect offensive line, could get off to a fast start because of an “easier” early-season schedule, then fade away later when the Beavers faced the likes of ASU, Stanford, USC, UCLA and Cal from Oct. 3 to last Saturday. Even with a fifth-year senior quarterback in Sean Canfield and the Rodgers brothers.
Well, we got it wrong again. OSU was shaky early, barely winning at UNLV, then losing back-to-back games at home vs. Cincinnati and Arizona in which the offense was at times booed by its own fans. The offense was sputtering in the red zone and the defense – minus defensive ends Victor Butler (Cowboys) and Slade Norris (Raiders) – had all of four sacks after seven games, tied for worst in the FBS. But since then, OSU has won four of five, including an impressive 31-14 win last week in Berkeley over then-No. 23 Cal.
I chuckled at Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh’s quote last season, after the Cardinal got OSU 36-28 in the opening game, when he said, “everybody knows the time to catch them is early before they take off.” Well, Harbaugh is exactly right: OSU put together late-season runs in 2006, 2007, and 2008 to end up in a bowl game and the Top 25, and it appears Riley’s guys are headed in the same direction in 2009.
UW fans might not want to hear this, but the Rodgers brothers are stronger and faster. Quizz is more of a threat coming out of the backfield. James is one of the best receivers in the Pac-10, and one of its most dangerous after the catch. He does a lot more than just run the fly sweep.
What has transformed this team offensively is the development of an O-line that has two former walk-ons (Grant Johnson and Mike Remmers) and a former back-up deep snapper (Alex Linnenkohl) as starters, the emergence of former walk-on split end Damola Adeniji as a downfield threat to go with James Rodgers and the spectacular play of late of bruising TE Joe Halahuni, who has brought “impact tight end” into OSU’s play-calling vocabulary for the first time since big Joe Newton was on campus.
There were were some media in this market who thought OSU’s best chance to win this season was with charismatic Lyle Moevao at quarterback, not just because he leveled Greyson Gunheim with that YouTube classic crackback in 2007, but because he had “moxie” and “leadership” and fellow fifth-year senior Canfield did not. Again, wrong, wrong, wrong. Moevao came back slowly from rotator cuff surgery, then was KO’d for the year with a freak practice injury (torn tendon in foot) but Canfield is playing the best football of his career and could be the first OSU player to lead the Pac-10 in passing since Derek Anderson in 2004.
What struck me last year during OSU’s 34-13 win at Husky Stadium was the lack of team speed on defense by Washington. Mike Riley said some of those players are older, and I guess faster because he said they fly to the ball and are much improved under new coordinator Nick Holt. I don’t see that reflected in the statistics, but I’ll take his word for it. Regardless, I think the key matchup here is whether or not the UW defense can handle an Oregon State offense that has been in a good rhythm and putting up huge yardage totals since a 42-36 loss to then-No. 4 USC.
I expect Jake Locker to hurt the OSU defense on occasion, but can Washington score enough points?”