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Across the Cougar sideline: Scouting the Oregon State Beavers

Across the Cougar sideline: Scouting the Oregon State Beavers

By Harper Anderson, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Oct. 12, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.



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PROVO -- Saturday the Cougars will face off against the Beavers of Oregon State in Corvallis for the tenth time in these teams' history.

Oregon State leads the series 5-4; however the last time these two met the Cougars dominated the Beavers 44-20 in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl.

Oregon State has been a part of the Pacific Eight conference ever since it's inception in 1968, which has evolved into the Pac-10 and now currently the Pac-12.

Head coach Mike Riley led the Beavers in 1997-98 before a brief stint in the NFL as head coach for the San Diego Chargers. In 2003 Riley returned to the Oregon State job and has been there since.

Riley's overall record at Oregon State is 61-40, putting him near the top for win percentage amongst all coaches in the Pac-12. He has led the Beavers to a bowl game every year he has coached but two (2005 and 2010). His overall bowl record at Oregon State is 5-1 with his only loss coming from current BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl.

Interestingly, Mendenhall played for Oregon State as a defensive back in 1986-87.

So far this season Oregon State is 1-4 opening the season with a loss against FCS school Sacramento State 29-28 in overtime. Since then, it's been hard for the Beavers to find any tread during the season. They are, however, coming off of a 37-27 victory over conference rival Arizona.

OFFENSE
Oregon State features a very young offense led by freshman quarterback Sean Mannion, who has thrown for 1,282 yards, completing 129 of his 197 passes. He has also thrown four touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The Beavers average over 390 yards of total offense, 280 yards through the air, ranking them 30th in the country. However they only have four touchdowns through the air. In fact, they average just over 20 points a game while giving up over 30 points a game.

Junior wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Jordan Bishop are Mannion's primary targets. Wheaton has caught 38 passes for 444 yards. His average of over 11 yards a reception makes him a legitimate threat against BYU's defensive backfield.

Bishop has caught 21 passes for 296 yards, averaging just over 14 yards a reception, making the combination of Wheaton and Bishop a definite problem for the BYU defense of the front seven cannot get to Mannion.

Wide receiver James Rodgers is the wild card for the Beavers. In 2009 Rodgers had over 1,000 yards receiving for Oregon State and was having another fabulous year in 2010 until a season-ending knee injury against Arizona.

The senior was awarded an injury redshirt and got off to a slow start this season. Rodgers, who's younger brother Jacquizz now plays for the Atlanta Falcons, missed the first two games of the season, and since has grabbed 14 passes for 149 yards. Rodgers has the talent to dominate a game, but hasn't quite returned to form.

Freshman running back Malcolm Agnew suffered a hamstring injury during the Beavers season-opening loss against Sacramento State. Agnew gained 223 rushing yards on 33 attempts. His status is still questionable for this Saturday's game.

Sophomore running back Jovan Stevenson has taken over as Agnew's replacement for the season, and had a breakout game last week against Arizona with 99 yards on 17 carries.

Look the Beavers to attack the Cougars through the air because of their talent at wide receiver, their injury situation at running back and the dominant front seven of BYU.

DEFENSE The Beavers defensive line took a big hit losing Steven Paea to the NFL's Chicago Bears. Paea broke the NFL combine record by bench pressing 225 lbs. 44 times.

The void created by Paea's departure is being filled, somewhat, by redshirt freshman Scott Chricton, who has 30 tackles so far this season, eight tackles for a loss, including three sacks. Chricton has also caused two fumbles.

Chricton gets a lot of help from the other front seven for the Beavers. Starting with junior linebacker Feti Unga (45 tackles, one sack) and sophomore linebacker Michael Doctor (26 tackles, one interception).

As far as the defensive backs go, junior Jordan Poyer appears to be the biggest threat to opposing offenses. Poyer has seven pass breakups and two interceptions through five games.

SPECIAL TEAMS Poyer also returns kicks for the Beavers. He has game-changing ability. He ranks eighth in the country in punt returns, averaging 17.5 yards and has returned one punt for a score so far this year.

Freshman kicker Trevor Romaine has connected on all nine of his extra points and nine of his 12 field goal attempts; his longest from 45 yards.

Although still very young, the Beavers are a scary team. Their 1-4 record may come as a bit of a surprise, but it is due mostly to inexperience, not a lack of talent. If the Beavers can avoid mistakes and make the occasional big play on both sides of the ball they have the ability to surprise good teams.

It won't be easy for the Cougar offense to find a rhythm, and they will have to be sure to mix up the offense to keep the Beavers on their toes. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday, 2 p.m. MST.

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Harper Anderson

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