Sports Out West

Oregon State football Week 3: 5 observations from the Beavers’ 51-48 win over Utah in OT

Oregon State vs Utah

In an exciting game to watch, the Oregon State Beavers pulled off a 51-48 victory over Utah in overtime, to give them their first Pac-12 victory of the season. The Beavers now have a record of 2-1 and look to keep building off their momentum. They have two winnable games on their upcoming schedule and need to take advantage of that. However, the final seven games of their season could prove to be difficult if they don’t make some changes.

Here are five observations from their victory over Utah.

Mannion’s off to a great start

Sean Mannion has proven that he deserves to be the starting quarterback for the Beavers in 2013. Against Utah, he threw for 443 yards, five touchdowns with no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 91.9. His statistics for the season might have him in the Heisman Trophy discussion, if he were playing for a higher ranked team and if they didn’t lose to Eastern Washington. So far in 2013, he has 1237 yards passing, 12 touchdowns, one interception and an average quarterback rating of 90.67.

Where’s the running game?

The lack of a running game has forced Mannion to put the ball in the air and so far it’s worked out alright. The Beavers can’t afford to be one dimensional against their future conference opponents.  Somehow or some way the Beavers have to come up with a ground attack. Storm Woods has only managed to gain 152 yards and two touchdowns over a three game period. Those are the kind of numbers you would expect from him in one game. He also suffered a concussion during the Utah game, which may limit his ability to play next week.

Terron Ward has just 43 yards and one touchdown over the last three games. That makes the Beavers average rushing yards per game a dismal 65 yards. This will have to change if Oregon State wants to finish out the season with a winning record.

Defensive struggles

When looking at the defensive statistics, the Beavers are fortunate to have a 2-1 record. Over the last three games, the Beavers’ defense has given up an average of 168 yards rushing and 299 yards passing, which equals 467 total yards per game. If it weren’t for the three interceptions against Utah, it would be even worse.

Oregon State needs to figure out how to stop a mobile quarterback. Eastern Washington’s quarterback Vernon Adams ran for 107 yards against the Beavers. In the second half alone, Utah quarterback Travis Wilson rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Defensive coordinator Mark Banker needs to come up with a solution to this or it’s not going to be a fun season for the Beavers.

The go-to guy

Wide receiver Brandin Cooks has become the main target for Mannion this year. His 498 yards and seven touchdowns makes him one of the front-runners on the 2013 Biletnikoff Award Watch List. Only Texas A&M’s Mike Evans has more receiving yards than Cooks with 518 yards. However, Cooks leads the nation in touchdown receptions with seven.

A more balanced approach is needed

The Beavers cannot put the weight of their team on Mannion and Cooks backs the entire season. Honestly, if the opponent has a decent pass rush and if they double cover Cooks, what do the Beavers have left? Oregon State has to find a way to run the football. Storm Woods had 940 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in 2012. He had an average of 4.9 yards per carry, which the Beavers could really use right now.

Head coach Mike Riley has to find a way to make their offensive attack balanced. If the Beavers one-dimensional game is shut down, their defense isn’t good enough at this point of the season to bail them out. Look for the Beavers to get creative with their running game.

Photo Credit: Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

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Norm Hightower

Norm Hightower is a sports enthusiast and avid outdoorsman residing in the State of Oregon. He has a wealth of sports knowledge and experience when it comes to football, baseball, basketball and outdoor sports. He is a staff writer for Ramstalk.net and he also contributes to Yahoo! Voices.