2014 Beavers: Consistently Underperformed
Ricky: The Oregon State Beavers were a mediocre 5-7 last season. They started strong, winning four of their first five games, but collapsed to the tune of a 1-6 record. Zach, did the double-overtime loss to Utah begin a downward slide for the Beavers?
Zach: Losing in double-overtime to the Utes this past October was a heartbreaker and it was followed by a series of five losses over the course of six games. However, the Beavers should have beaten both Washington State (39-32) and Cal (45-31) in early November at home, considering that both programs failed to qualify for a bowl game. To me, OSU is nothing more than a Pac-12 tuneup, for the more superior teams in the conference to beat up on to gain a mear confidence boost.
Ricky: My, how things have changed for the program that won nine games in 2012 and took it to Oregon a year later. Longtime Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion has been the lifeblood of this team since 2011. He threw for 13,600 yards in four seasons with Oregon State and is now with the St. Louis Rams. How does a team like the Beavers overcome a loss like Mannion, and can their foes take advantage of no longer facing a stat-packing passer?
Zach: Mannion became the Pac-12 career passing leader in 2014, surpassing Matt Barkley in a year of multiple underwhelming team performances, while also earning his second All Pac-12 honorable mention award. Oregon State tallied 393.5 offensive yards per game last season, which can be compared to the 473 total yards the Oregon Ducks passed for, according to ESPN. But to answer your question, losing Mannion won’t necessarily hurt the Beavers as much as most may think. Why? Because with or without Mannion, OSU isn’t reaching a bowl game.
Zach: Mike Riley has left OSU to take over the Nebraska head coaching job. He led the Beavers to eight bowl games while winning six, including the 2008 Sun Bowl when they finished 18th in the final Associated Press poll. In his first position within the Big Ten conference, Ricky, will Riley lift the Cornhuskers back to the success they experienced in the 1990’s? Or will the era be a sheer embarrassment?
Ricky: Oh, man. That’s a tough one. If you asked me that back in July, when I penned my season outlook, I would have said Nebraska might get back to the 10-win plateau. But Saturday’s loss to BYU — after Taysom Hill was injured — was tough to swallow, and not the way many hoped for the Riley era to begin. Riley has a winning track record from his time at OSU, but I think Nebraska’s expectation is so high that you have to win, win now and win big. Bo Pelini did just that and did it often — he won 67 games in eight years, with seven seasons of at least nine wins — but it just wasn’t good enough. Maybe Riley will be different and bring that elusive championship to Lincoln, but I just don’t see it. They’ll be good, maybe even great, but not at the level expected. Not with the Big Ten east, Wisconsin and now Minnesota in the way.
Ricky: Let’s look at the man replacing Riley in Corvalis, Ore.: Gary Andersen. He spent two years at Wisconsin before leaving the Badgers this offseason. Kind of an odd move, from a Big Ten power to Oregon State, for Andersen to make, huh?
Zach: Not really surprised that Andersen left Wisconsin, with him not being able to land a handful of verbal commits due to the Badgers’ tough admission standards. I remember him saying that the policies frustrated him and that he wanted to have the guarantee to coach the kids that he recruited. Oregon State will without a doubt provide that opportunity to Gary.
Recap: OSU 26, Weber State (FCS) 7
Even with a true freshman quarterback under center, the Beavers had no trouble putting away Weber State to open the season.
In his collegiate debut, Seth Collins went 10-for-18 passing with 92 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 152 yards on 17 attempts. Not bad for a player who was a two-star recruit, per Rivals. Collins’ play was good enough to earn Oregon State’s starting job.
The Beavers rolled with a strong rushing attack.
Collins led the way, but fifth-year senior Storm Barrs-Woods and junior Chris Brown totaled solid chunks of yards. Barrs-Woods had 63 yards on 15 attempts to Brown’s 54 yards on 14 attempts.
Sophomore Jordan Villamin became the preferred target for Oregon State quarterbacks. He had four receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, a 44-yard pass from Collins in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Garrett Owens was a big part of the Beavers scoring against Weber State. He converted all four field goal chances and knocked in two point-after-attempts.
As good as it played on offense, Oregon State’s electric defense was a game-changer. It held Weber State to 178 yards and 0-for-13 on third down. The Beavers had one interception, and junior Rommel Mageo led the team with 11 tackles.
Four Players To Watch
A quiet, yet productive performance in his first college game against a bottom of the barrel FCS program has earned Collins the starting job, becoming the first true freshman to take first-team snaps under center for the Beavers in over two decades. Collins also totaled the most rushing yards for an OSU quarterback (152) since 1996. Collins’ second game of his collegiate career takes place at the Big House, the site and date of Jim Harbaugh’s home debut. Realistically, Weber State, who hasn’t qualified for the FCS players since 2009 is a much smaller giant than a hyped Michigan squad.
Storm Barrs-Woods, Running Back
The story of Storm Woods adding Barrs to his last name in honor of his mother, Faith, for working three jobs in Austin, Texas to support the pair while Storm’s father was in jail is rather heart warming. Now, in his senior season at Oregon State, Barrs-Woods is expected to join Jacquizz Rodgers as the only players in Beavers history to garner 2,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Barrs-Woods rushed for only 63 yards on 15 attempts on Friday against Weber State, and will need to have a breakout performance this weekend, when he faces a Michigan defense who held Utah Heisman Trophy hopeful Devontae Booker to 69 yards on 22 carries.
Jordan Villamin, Wide Receiver
As a redshirt freshman last season, Villamin started in five games at split end, leading the Beavers receiving corp with six touchdowns catches. His season high in catches and yardage came against California when he caught nine passes for 140 yards. In a lopsided game this past weekend, Villamin reached the end zone once while recording 70 yards through the air. As one of the leading receivers on the outside for the Beavers, expect either Jordan Lewis or Channing Stribling to lock down on the sophomore. One of the more anticipated matchups at the Big House this weekend.
Seumalo is back in the starting unit for OSU after missing the entire 2014 campaign after undergoing foot surgery. The redshirt junior's first game back was against Weber State, but his first major test along the trenches will be Michigan's front seven. Utah managed to total just 81 yards on the ground from a combined four offensive players. The Wolverines' linebackers are experienced, as is the defensive line. OSU will need the former Outland Award watch list recipient to have a solid performance.
U-M/OSU Hot Takes
Seth Collins will quickly realize just how different Weber State and Michigan really are. The true freshman will be overwhelmed by a talented defense, while his ears buzz from a potentially historic crowd for Jim Harbaugh’s home debut.
Michigan is favored by 14 points, but expect it to have something to prove — a chip on its shoulder — after the new regime’s debut at Utah. The Wolverines will stomp Oregon State by at least 17 points and will force a quarterback change at some point in the game.