Mannion returns just in time
This Saturday, the Oregon State Beavers will take on the Washingon Huskies, in what looks to be a heated battle in Seattle. With the return of their quarterback, and an explosive defense, OSU should have plenty of impact players in this one.
No. 4 Sean Mannion — QB
Just three weeks removed from knee surgery, Sean Mannion will make his triumphant return under center for the Beavers this Saturday.
Squaring off against a pass defense that ranks 18th in the FBS—allowing less than 200 yards per game—it’ll be up to him to make sure the offense finds an early rhythm.
Mannion had one of his best games against the Huskies last season, passing for 339 yards and two touchdowns.
While this Washington secondary is better than last year, they’re allowing the same number of passing touchdowns per game (1.7).
They’re also coming off a game in which they allowed 52 points and four passing touchdowns to Matt Scott and Arizona.
There’s still the matter of Mannion’s knee. He suited up against Utah as the backup, and he’s been in full practices all week. But to return in three weeks, after being given an “indefinite” timetable, seems too good to be true.
As long as he truly is healthy and ready to go, he should be able to get enough going to challenge this Husky secondary.
No. 7 Brandin Cooks — WR
Brandin Cooks is coming off his worst game of the season, catching just one pass for eight yards against Utah. But that doesn’t mitigate how good he’s been this year, especially with Mannion at quarterback (135 yards per game).
Not to mention his ability to be a factor in the run game. The speedy Cooks has been utilized on reverse plays, averaging 3.7 yards per carry.
Last year against Washington, his partner in crime Markus Wheaton had a stellar rushing game—gaining 66 yards on three carries.
UW has been dreadful against the run this season, giving up almost 200 yards per game. These dynamic sets are just the kind of thing that can give the Beavers the edge.
Once they do that, finding room to make catches should come easy for the explosive Cooks.
No. 95 Scott Crichton — DE
The offensive line has not been a strength for UW.
Opponents are averaging three sacks per game against the Dawgs. They already have 12 fumbles on the year—nine forced by opponents—compared to the 13 they had in all of 2011.
Unfortunate for the Huskies, this week they face Scott Crichton. He just happens to be the Pac-12 leader in sacks (1.33) and tackles for loss (2.08) per game.
He was explosive against the Huskies last season, registering five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble. Remember, that was against a better Washington o-line.
OSU is very good against the run, and a big reason for that is the explosive Crichton.
The Huskies are such a good home team that the Beavers can’t let themselves get sucked into a shootout. That means the defense has to play a complete game, dissolving any rhythm Washington gets into.
That makes Crichton a big role player in this game.
No. 48 Keith Kostol — P
The Beavers haven’t played their best offensive football over the last three weeks, and it’s been up to the defense to pick up the pieces. But their job would be a hell of a lot harder without the exquisite punting of Keith Kostol.
Last week against Utah, Kostol had eight punts. On four of those, he pinned the Utes within their own 20. On one of them, he pinned them within the 10.
These are the pinpoint plays that are quietly saving Oregon State this season.
With this game expected to be a close match—one possibly decided by defense—it’ll be up to Kostol to make sure the Huskies lose as much ground as possible.
One for Washington: No. 17 Keith Price — QB
When it comes to Pac-12 play, Keith Price has been awful this season.
UW is 1-3 within the conference. Over his last four games, Price is averaging 194 yards per game, with seven interceptions—with two in each of his last three games.
He got a break last week, facing off against a sluggish Arizona secondary. Price had a season high 256 yards in that game. Lucky for him, the Beaver’s secondary isn’t much better than the Wildcats’.
But what OSU does do very well is capitalize on mistakes. Jordan Poyer leads the division in interceptions (five), while battery mate Rashaad Reynolds leads the division in passes defender (13).
It will be up to Price to make sure the Huskies can keep pace with the Beavers. To do that, he’ll have to play some great football.