The best and worst of a fast start
The Oregon State Beavers are enjoying one of the best seasons in team history. While it’s been an overall team effort to get this far, some players have been having exceptional seasons.
Of course, that’s a double edged sword.
Where there are players who have been playing exceptional, you will always find players who aren’t carrying their fare share.
Here’s a list of those over and underachievers on the 2012 Beavers.
Rashaad Reynolds – Cornerback
Playing cornerback opposite Jordan Poyer is no easy task. If you’re not at the top of your game, opposing offenses are going to pick you apart.
Rashaad Reynolds has been a pleasant surprise in 2012, making teams pay for underestimating his value. The junior’s one behind the team lead in tackles (30), while leading the Beavers in break ups (eight) and pass deflections (10). He also has two interceptions.
As long as Reynolds keeps playing at a high level, that Beaver’s secondary is only going to get stronger.
Brandin Cooks – Wide Receiver
A lot of people expected Brandin Cooks to have a big sophomore season, but not this big.
Cooks currently leads the team in receiving with 659 yards, while averaging a whopping 19.4 yards per catch and 131 yards per game. Not to mention his two touchdowns.
He’s also been a part of the running game, with seven carries for 35 yards.
This offense would be lacking a lot of it’s punch without the explosive Cooks.
Mike Riley – Head Coach
Many believed Mike Riley came into this season on the hot seat. When it was announced that he would once again take up play calling, I’m not sure that anyone knew what to expect.
But in Riley we trust, as the head coach has led the Beavers to their best start ever. 5-0 with wins over Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and BYU—those last three were on the road.
Not to mention the impact he’s had on offense. The Beavers currently rank 5th in the Pac-12, averaging 458 yards and 27 points per game.
I think that hot seat’s getting a lot colder.
Isaac Seumalo – Center
Isaac Seumalo came into the season with high expectations. The true freshman was the Beaver’s only 5-star recruit for the season, and he was rated as the best offensive line prospect in the nation.
This caused many—including myself—to overhype Seumalo. While he hasn’t been a bust, he hasn’t quite been a savior to that o- line either.
Seumalo’s inexperience has shown through a lot this season. He’s been the source of many a false start, and has had a lot of problems reading opposing blitzes.
Oregon State has had improved line play over the season, but that’s due more to the maturation of the other lineman than Seumalo.
Storm Woods- Running Back
The rushing attack was a major issue for the Beavers in 2011, averaging less than 90 yards per game on the ground.
In August, the decision for starting halfback came down to the wire, with the higher ceilinged Storm Woods eventually winning out over last season’s starter, Malcolm Agnew.
Woods hasn’t been a disaster this season. Far from it, as he’s averaging 80 yards a game with three touchdowns on the season.
He’s third on the team in receiving, with 127 total yards.
The issue with Woods has been identical to Agnew’s last season. Health, and how it’s impacted his game. While the redshirt freshman has tons of talent, averaging just 17 carries per game is not cutting it.
When it comes to kicking this team has been pretty flawless. They’re six for eight on field goals, 16 for 17 on extra point attempts and are averaging 44 yards per punt.
The real issue has been returns, and it’s plagued this team all season long.
Currently, the Beavers are averaging 2.4 returns per game (eight kick returns, four punt returns). Returners are averaging 9.8 yards per punt and 18.2 yards per kickoff. In contrast, the 2011 squad—with virtually the same returners—averaged 15.1 yards per punt and 22 yards per kick.
This season the NCAA changed their return rules, and a touchback is now to the 25-yard line. So why is Oregon State’s average so low?
The 2011 squad set a high bar. To match it, the Beavers need to be a lot better with blocking down field and reading defenses.