Oregon State Beavers: Numbers Can Tell A Story

Remember a few weeks ago when the Oregon State Beavers’ football team looked like their once promising season was on the brink of being flushed down the losers’ toilet? An out-of-body-experience loss to Eastern Washington (an FCS division school) had Beaver nation not only crossing off a BCS berth, but actually thinking any bowl was out of the picture? Well, no one can call them world beaters, however, this season has taken a turn for the better. A 4-1 record has put OSU on a path for something higher than a lower tier bowl game.

Statistically, the Beavers are racking up points as expected against the softer portion of the schedule. Quarterback Sean Mannion is on a blistering pace and has the team at 17th nationally in passing efficiency (completions/attempts, interceptions thrown, passing yards and passing touchdowns). He currently leads the entire nation in yards per game (390.2), total passing yards (2,018) and touchdowns (21). Furthermore, he has thrown only two interceptions (one of those can be argued was not his doing). The schedule has favored him (and the entire team), with stiffer competition to follow. But with the talent around him, opposing teams won’t completely strap him down. His numbers may take a hit, but won’t fall of the planet either.

Everyone wants the running game to open up. In the 44-17 win over Colorado, the team did have 34 rushing attempts for 120 net yards. Okay, this doesn’t scream out at anyone, but give Coach Mike Riley some kudos for trying. Terron Ward had a couple of burst for 10-11 yards, so you could see some slight improvement. It will be essential for Riley and his staff to keep the running game in effort mode. While the numbers don’t pile up in this area, the team is getting closer to providing relief for Mannion. Having this weekend off, OSU should take advantage of the extra time so their injured players can get healthy. 

Which brings us to the real juice of the figures fiesta. If Mannion has been stud like, Brandin Cooks has been superman. Cooks leads all receivers in touchdowns (9), receiving yards (807) and total receptions (52). He, as well, will be heavily watched upon as the season rolls in to tougher opponents. But a complete shutdown seems highly unlikely.

Early in the season, defensively, Oregon State did not look like much. Giving up 107 yards to Eastern Washington‘s quarterback Vernon Adams and 260 rushing yards to Utah (QB Travis Wilson strolled to 142 yards and RB James Poole raked in 117 yards), the defense was paltry at best. Now, the tide appears to have turned. The Beavs aren’t letting one guy run all over them and rank a modest 54th nationally in rushing defense at 146.8 yards per game. Meanwhile, in the secondary, the Beavers stand at a not so pleasant 90th in surrendering passing yardage (258.8). 
So here lies the rub. The name of the game is to score more points than your opponent. Oregon State ranks 2nd overall in passing offense and 120th in rushing. The Beavers are 90th in points against (31.6) and 20th in points for (41.6), all adding up to four wins in five games. The defense is going to get better, as is the run game. Should these two areas improve, even along with a slight dip in the passing game, this team has a great opportunity to position themselves for an eight or nine win season and something more than the ‘I’ve never heard of that’ bowl game.

About Arran Gimba