At the start of the year I had this date with Oregon State penciled in as a must watch game for the battle between Sean Mannion and Connor Halliday.
With Halliday out injured and Mannion having a down year, that portion of the matchup has lost its spice, but there are still some intriguing angles to explore.
Both teams stay in games and win games in opposite ways. Even though they’ve had their struggles on offense, the Beavs have had success with a stellar pass defense that currently holds the best interception rate of any team in the Pac-12 (they intercept the ball every 31 throws) and posts a respectable +4 turnover margin that has them ranked 5th in the Pac-12 (WSU is last at -10).
The Cougars lead the nation in passing at 478 yards per game (#2 is Western Kentucky at 377 per game). The main struggles with this team have been the defense’s inability to stop the pass and force turnovers.
Considering the defense’s porous play and having a red shirt freshman QB making his first start vs OSU’s good pass defense, is there any hope for WSU?
As Nuss and Brian pointed out in their articles this week, Luke Falk has good mobility and poise in the pocket. WSU also ran the ball more times vs USC than any other team this year (26 carries). You’ll have to ask Nuss and Brian if those run checks were the right ones, but if there is a spot the Beaver defense is vulnerable, it’s in the running game.
Oregon State has the second worst yards per carry given up in the Pac-12 and the 3rd worst opponent explosive run percentage (percentage of runs that are 10+ yards).
The optimist in me has visions of Luke Falk doing his best 2010 Jeff Tuel impression and scrambling all over the place, using the running game to set up passes to Vince Mayle and the gang. However the realist in me could see the Cougar offense struggle against a stout pass defense and make Mannion look more like the 2011-13 version than what we've seen this season.
What do you think about the Cougs' chances? Could we see some success running the ball?
Navigating the graphics:
Hover over any of the bars/lines in the offense and defense dashboards to get a pop up of the stats. On the national and conference dashboards you can use the drop down menu in the upper left to filter the conferences or you can select or lasso any logo to update the table at the bottom of that view.