o get a better idea of what’s happening on the football fields of Corvallis, we reached out to Andy Wooldridge of BuildingTheDam.com, SB Nation’s Oregon State blog. Andy provides the scoop on Beaver football and what to expect on Saturday in Reser Stadium.
You can find our answers for BuildingTheDam.com by clicking here.
After a rough start to the season, Oregon State has posted double-digit wins against Arizona and Washington State and was within two touchdowns of Arizona State. Has the team improved significantly during the season?
The Beavers haven’t improved so much as they played with significantly fewer mistakes in those games. It’s also worth noting that Arizona and WSU are 2 of the worst defensive teams in the conference, so the results in the wins were partially a product of the opposition. Oregon St. is capable of playing well better than their record suggests, but they haven’t played to their own capabilities much of the time.
Rate freshman quarterback Sean Mannion’s performance since stepping in for Ryan Katz in September.
C+. Mannion has made a number of good throws, but then he has been told to (via the play calls), whereas Katz was handed much more conservative play calls. Mannion has the arm to be a first rate Pac-12 QB, but either lacks or hasn’t developed his mobility, which has resulted in a number of sacks, and several deflected balls. And he has thrown too many interceptions, many of them poor throws or poor decisions, compared to those that were great defensive plays.
What’s a realistic best-case scenario for Oregon State as it enters its final four games of the year?
Beat Cal and Washington by capitalizing on those’ teams weaknesses, and be competitive against Stanford and Oregon.
Does freshman running back Malcolm Agnew have a chance to become the next Jacquizz Rodgers?
Doubtful. He’s already had injury problems, and though he does possess some of the same qualities, Rodgers had vision and instinct that was evident right away. These things can’t really be taught. Being the next Yvenson Bernard is probably more realistic, though that wouldn’t be bad.
What’s one thing that Oregon State did poorly against Utah that it will need to fix in time for Saturday’s game?
Make correct reads, both offensively and defensively. It was tempting to say actually have a defensive game plan, because there wasn’t one in Salt Lake City, but that would ignore the fact that Mannion was completely overwhelmed, and no adjustments were made by him or coaching.
What is the consensus about the performance of head coach Mike Riley this season? Is he on the hot seat?
There is no consensus. Riley still has a large core of supporters, and many of those who are fed up are more concerned with some of his staff than him. I’d say his seat is warming up, but it will probably take a third disaster in a row next year before it gets hot.
Who will be OSU’s MVP of the game on Saturday?
If there is one, its likely to be DE Scott Crichton. Crichton has played well in both the good games and the debacles, and most agree that if Stanford is going to struggle, it will be because Oregon St. gets pressure on both Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor in the backfield. That was also the recipe for the upset of USC (who runs a somewhat similar system) last year when the Beavers were apparently in shambles then, and when Oregon St. beat Stanford (and Luck) at Reser 2 years ago. Some of the players have changed, but neither team’s schemes really have that much.
Oregon St. is capable of playing well better than their record suggests, but they haven’t played to their own capabilities much of the time.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 the least, 10 the greatest), how does Reser Stadium rate in terms of home field advantage?
When the Beavers are competitive, its an 8. Home field can’t compensate for a non-competitive matchup, but it can be a huge tipping factor if all else about equals out. And until the last couple of down years, Oregon St. had a very good home record under Riley, which closely correlated to getting off to good starts at home. The crowd, the band, and sometimes the weather contribute to a very difficult atmosphere. The small size of Reser and the crowd (< 45,000) limits it, so it isn’t what Autzen or Husky Stadiums are, but ask USC and Cal how much they have enjoyed Corvallis lately.
What is your final prediction for the game?
Unfortunately, I suspect it will be similar to last year in Palo Alto. Oregon St. is beat up defensively, and Luck is not as subject to a “let down” between the USC & UofO games as many field generals would be in a similar situation. And the Cardinal defense is both good, and more importantly, disciplined. I do think the annual November ambush is possible, and this is about the last game all season I’d bet on. But if I had to, I think Stanford 38, Oregon St. 13 would be a good line to go with.
(Headline image courtesy of Wikipedia)