(Photo: Allyson Cummings/WCSN)
Say the words, “Oregon State football,” and images of an offense torching opponents through the airwaves are bound to surface.
After all, this was the team that was third in all of college football with 372.6 passing yards per game a year ago. Quarterback Sean Mannion was second in the nation—trailing only Derek Carr—in total passing yards with 4,662, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks ran circles around defenders throughout the season for a nation-leading 1,730 receiving yards.
Sure, its most explosive offensive weapon, Cooks, departed for the NFL, but the team returned the cog that made this offense click with Mannion back for his senior season in 2014.
Translation for success, right? Hardly.
For all that Oregon State accomplished through the air last year, 2014 has been a true debacle.
Mannion’s completion percentage and QBR are at career lows, his yards per attempt are his lowest since his freshman season, and he has been sacked a whopping 28 times. Oregon State’s entire offense has suffered as a result, as they enter a matchup against Arizona State with the nation’s 30th best aerial attack.
Because of this ineptitude, Oregon State has lost four-in-a-row and is a basement-dwelling 1-5 in Pac-12 play. Thus, the Beavers are at a point in their season in which they can adopt the “spoiler” role, and their creative schemes and radical formations on offense certainly reflect a nothing-to-lose mentality.
Ever the film junky, Graham has recognized these strokes of creative and schematic genius from Oregon State and talked about them after Thursday’s practice:
“I think they’re different. They’re going to have good answers to what we’re doing with their tight end screens, their running back screens, their hot reads. They’ve got good speed at the receiver position and they know how to utilize their tight ends. We haven’t played anybody like that,” Graham said.
Safety Jordan Simone also provided his thoughts on Oregon State’s offense, focusing on Mannion in particular.
“Mannion’s really good,” Simone said. “He’s a really good quarterback and real accurate, but we just need to get after him. We played a running quarterback here for the last five weeks, so it’s going to be nice to have someone that’s more of a pocket passer who’s trying to get the ball out quick. We’re looking forward to it.”
Graham further expanded on Oregon State’s complex offense, stating that his defense must ensure that it is “sound on the wide delays, the tight end delays, the tight end throw backs, the tight end screens, the tailback screens and the tailback throwbacks.”
He then quickly reverted his focus back to Mannion’s playmaking capability:
“By the way, they’ve got a quarterback who can make the perfect pass. He’s a guy that throws the ball on the money. Those are the challenges…You’re not going to beat them schematically. You’re going to have to be sound fundamentally and make sure that you execute,” said Graham.
Defensive Line: Marcus Hardison (End), Ami Latu (Tackle), Mo Latu (Nose Tackle), Demetrius Cherry (End)
Linebackers: Antonio Longino (WILL), Salamo Fiso (SAM), Laiu Moeakiola (SPUR)
Cornerbacks: Kweishi Brown (Boundary), Lloyd Carrington (Field)
Safeties: Jordan Simone (Bandit), Damarious Randall (Field)
- 17-year-old running back Demario Richard spoke on his recent success after Thursday’s practice: “I don’t let it get to my head. I just sit back and relax and enjoy the show. I keep building with my brothers, keep coming out working hard, and don’t let the success get to my head,” said Richard.
- Safety Jordan Simone adopted a similar humble approach, as he addressed being nominated for the Burlsworth Trophy—an award given to the most outstanding walk-on: “It’s cool. One of the guys was telling me that today. I didn’t even know that until earlier in practice. It’s pretty cool, but I just have to worry about winning games and that stuff will come,” said Simone
- Simone also shed the gold limited contact jersey and was a full participant at Thursday’s practice. He was, however, wearing a strip of KT tape on his sore neck.
- Nose tackle Jaxon Hood was not in attendance for the sixth straight practice, and it is safe to assume he will not be suiting up on Saturday.