The PAC 12 grind continues for the Beavers as they travel up I-5 North to face the 5th ranked Washington Huskies. The Huskies are projected by some experts to earn a spot in the college playoffs this season. The Huskies are favored by more than 30 points on Saturday. Do the Beavers have a chance to pull off one of the biggest upsets in school history? Many Beaver fans fondly remember the 1985 OSU vs Washington game when the Beavers, then 38 point underdogs, upset Washington 21-20 in Seattle. The upset was, at the time, the greatest upset in Vegas line history. Fast forward to 2016, Washington is coming off a BYE week. Before their week off, Washington annihilated Oregon, 70-21 in Eugene. They are 6-0 this season under Head Coach Chris Peterson. It will be a major challenge for the injury ridden Beavers, especially with a thin roster. Most of Washington’s starters are pro prospects. The Beavers can hope for growth and improvement against Washington. Here are things the Beavers need to work on as they prepare for Washington.
Stopping the Run
The Beaver Defense played well last week against Utah. They limited Utah to 7 points in the second half. However, the Beavers allowed another opponent’s Running Back to rush for over 100 yards. Utah Senior Running Back Joe Williams came out of retirement to rush for 179 yards against the Beavers. The Beavers were able to slow down Williams and the rest of the Utah running game during the second half.
The Beaver Defense face a difficult challenge against an impressive Offensive Line. The Legendary former Beaver QB, and current Husky Offensive Coordinator, Jonathan Smith will want to attack the Beavers on the ground with a very talented group of RB’s led by starter Myles Gaskin. Gaskin is a big time play-maker that possesses great speed and impressive strength. Washington has two strong backups that rotate in at the Running Back position. Junior Running Back Lavon Coleman is averaging an impressive 9 yards a carry, and fellow RB Jamon Dotson is another talented back for the Beavs to focus on. Coleman and Dotson could start for almost any team in the PAC 12. QB Jake Browning will make the Beaver Defense pay if they key too much on the run. The Beavs need to play their assignments. Missed assignments have killed the Beavs all season. In addition, the Beavers need to tackle well and improve on shedding blockers if they want to stand a chance to pull a gigantic upset.
The Passing Game
Gary Anderson, has commented numerous times that the Beavers need to be able to pass the ball successfully if they want to win games in the PAC 12. The Beavers have struggled in the passing game all season. In fact, they are currently ranked 121st in the nation in passing offense. Is third string Quarterback Marcus McMaryion the answer in solving the Beaver’s passing game woes? He led all passers last game as he passed for 5-9 with 76 yds. and 1 TD. McMaryion’s first start will be against a Washington Defense ranked 18th in the nation in total defense. I expect the Beavers to attempt short, high-percentage passing plays to build McMaryion’s confidence and help him grow comfortable within the Beaver Offense. Additionally, these shorter passes will help avoid mistakes and turnovers.
More Consistency Please
If this young Beaver team had been more consistent in their first 6 games, they could be currently sitting with a 4-2 record. However, the reality is the Beavers sit at 2-4 halfway through the season. An example of the inconsistency of this team was displayed in the Utah game. The Beaver Special Teams, which have been arguably the team’s strength this season, struggled against Utah. Also, the Beavers played poorly for most of the first half of the Utah game. However, they played tremendously in the second half. Look at the Boise State game (poor 1st half, great 2nd half), Minnesota game (great 1st and 3rd qtrs. , outplayed in 2nd. and 4th qtrs.), and the Cal Game (great play up until 4th qtr, great play in overtime). Beavers had some promising drives on offense vs Utah, but could not finish most drives with points. If the Beavers want a chance to upset Washington, they need to play near perfect football. The Beavers cannot afford mistakes on Special Teams or miss opportunities on offense.