Receiving corp leads the way
After going 8-16 over the last two seasons, I don’t think anyone expected this kind of turnaround from the Oregon State Beavers. I was one of their bigger supporters in the preseason, and not even I saw this coming.
With the Civil War just a few days away, I thought I’d take a look at some of the key tandems that have gotten OSU to this point and their 8-2 record.
I will be posting an article a day leading up to Saturday’s matchup, each looking at a different set of players.
Wheaton is arguably the offensive catalyst of the Beavers.
Standing at 6-1 and 182 lbs., Wheaton uses blazing speed and a great vertical to beat opponents. There’s almost nothing this guy can’t catch.
Wheaton leads the Beavs in catches with 69. He has seven or more catches in seven games.
With 977 yards receiving on the season, Wheaton should have no problem hitting 1,000 for the first time in his career. It’s amazing
that he only had one touchdown catch last season, especially because he has 10 this season. Not to mention he has one rushing touchdown.
Wheaton’s a dynamic force, and a cornerstone in the Beavers passing attack. When needed, Mike Riley has no problem running reversals with his No. 1 receiver. Wheaton has 79 rushing yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.
In my mind, Wheaton is the most integral part of the offense. He’s difficult to cover and has ridiculous speed. The quarterbacks love to throw him the ball, and he always puts his best effort forth on the field.
Cooks, a sophomore, leads the Beavers with 1,039 receiving yards. While he doesn’t have as many catches as Wheaton, he averages more per catch, with 17.9 yards. He’s also third on the team, with five touchdowns scored.
While Wheaton uses his size to make catches, the 5-10 Cooks has a tougher time over powering defenders.
Instead this guy is just fast. In fact, Cooks is probably the fastest guy on the team. That’s what makes him so hard to tackle, and chances are if he gets the ball in his hands he’s gone.
Cooks has longs over 45 yards in six games this season, and longs of 50 yards in four.
While Riley has tried to integrate Cooks into the reversal game, he’s still learning the ropes. He has 10 carries, but only for 41 yards.
Together, these two average a combined 202.5 receiving yards per game. They equate to 43 percent of the Beavers touchdowns.
That’s why it’s unfortunate that Wheaton is a senior, and will undoubtedly be moving onto the NFL at the end of the season. Cooks should have no issue taking up the reigns as the No. 1, but the Beavers passing attack needs a No. 2.
Oregon State’s best bet is Richard Mullaney, their top recruit from 2011. The redshirt freshman has seen limited time this season, but is averaging 13.6 yards per catch.
Despite Mullaney’s ceiling, I don’t know if OSU will ever have a receiving tandem as good as Wheaton and Cooks again.
And that’s why these two guys have been so integral to the Beavs in 2012.