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Pac-12 Preview: Oregon State is “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”

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Oregon State fans are getting anxious after another disappointing season as the Beavers finished 7-6 in 2013 with a season opening loss to little Eastern Washington.  Mike Riley, the eighth longest tenured head coach in Division 1 football, has his work cut out for him going forward. This program is no longer considered Pac-12 elite or Pac-12 North contenders, as Oregon, Stanford, and Washington are ranked above them in the national preseason Coaches Poll and the Pac-12 preseason media poll. Last year, the Beavers were mediocre, even with NFL First Round talent Brandin Cooks at wide receiver, and the Oregon State 2013 season can be simply described as “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Specifically, against “bad teams”, Oregon State looked good. However, against the “good teams”, Oregon State often looked “bad” and sometimes “ugly” like the 69-27 loss at home to Washington.

It wasn’t just a lucky hot streak to start the season and an unlucky cold streak to end the season. The first four Pac-12 opponents for Oregon State had a combined conference record of 7-26, (19.4%), and the Beavers won all four games. In their final five Pac-12 games, their opponents had a combined conference record of 33-12, (73.3%), and the Beavers lost all five of those games.  Certainly when your competition changes that much, your results will also change significantly. However, the changes were drastic for the Beavers.

Key 2013 Oregon State Team Statistics

StatisticFirst 4 Conf GamesAvg. Per GameLast 5 Conf GamesAvg. Per GamePer Game Change
Points For19649.010521.0-28.0
Points Against10626.518637.2-10.7
Turnover Margin+11+2.8-8-1.6-19
Completion Rate64.0%N/A62.7%N/A-1.3%
Yards Per Pass9.4N/A6.1N/A-3.3
Oregon State Statistical analysis provided by Gary Doran

The streaky differences during the first four games of their Pac-12 slate and the last five games show just how good, bad, and ugly the Oregon State Beavers were in 2013. The table below shows that the Beavers average 28 points fewer in their last five Pac-12 games. That’s four touchdowns per game even though quarterback Sean Mannion had a similar completion percentage throughout the entire nine game conference schedule. The major difference in 2013 was that during the last five Pac-12 games, Mannion was average 3.3 yards less per pass (9.4 to 6.1). The shorter pass plays stalled their offense, and Arizona State fans remember what Mannion does when he gets stalled and frustrated: turnovers. The team finished their last five Pac-12 games at -8 in turnovers which is the foundation of an ugly self-destruction.

Overall, Oregon State was first in the PAC-12 versus the pass in terms of yards per pass allowed, and the same defense only gave up 12 touchdowns through the air for the entire season. That’s good pass defense in the Pac-12 which loves to air it out.

When the Pac-12 competition got harder, Mannion’s numbers got bad. The one area that stayed pretty much the same was his ability to complete roughly 2 out-of 3 of his pass attempts, but Mannion threw for less yards and more interceptions against the stronger Pac-12 opponents.

QB Sean Mannion 2013 Stats

 TotalFirst 4 Pac12
Games
Last 5 Pac12
Games
Attempts428192236
Completions270123147
Completion %63.1%64.1%62.3%
Yards324218311411
Yards Per Pass7.579.545.98
TD Passes28199
Interceptions14311
Oregon State statistical analysis provided by Gary Doran

The Beavers need replacements along both the offensive and defensive line, but Mannion, who won this summer’s Elite 11 counselor challenge and Manning Passing Academy Air-It-Out Challenge, returns to lead the offense once again. Heading into 2014, which Oregon State will show up: the good, the bad or the ugly?

Some other key numbers for the 2014 Oregon State Beavers:

1              Returning defensive line starter

2              Returning offensive line starters

3              Watch lists for offensive lineman Isaac Seumalo (Outland Trophy, Lombardi Award, Rimington Trophy)

4              Pac-12 Road Games against USC, Colorado, Stanford, UW

5             Pac-12 Home Games against Utah, Cal, WSU, ASU, Oregon

6              Losses in a row to their rivals from Eugene

1839       Yards Sean Mannion needs to pass Matt Barkley for the most career passing yards in Pac-12 History

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