This was obvious to anyone who watched Oregon State’s most recent game, a 19-14 loss to Utah. Though it was a little surprising to hear such brutal honesty spoken by a college football coach.
Asked this week about OSU’s passing game, coach Gary Andersen went right ahead and said it.
“We all know. It’s not a secret. We are horrible at throwing the football,” Andersen told reporters Monday in Corvallis. “Again, that starts with me. I’m a horrible coach when it comes to throwing the football this year for those kids. So I need to try to help them, and every coach does, and every player, also.”
The numbers support Andersen’s assessment. The Beavers rank 128th nationally — dead last, all by themselves — in passing efficiency. They rank dead last in yards per pass attempt (4.6). They are 117th in completion percentage (51.1). They have thrown four touchdown passes in six games; only four FBS teams have fewer. In the first half of last week’s rain-soaked loss to Utah, they managed exactly 1 yard passing on 11 attempts.
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And against No. 5 Washington on Saturday, they plan to start their third-string quarterback, Marcus McMaryion, after injuries last week to both starter Darell Garretson and backup Conor Blount.
It could be going better for the Beavers right now, though they are only two weeks removed from a 47-44 overtime victory over California, Andersen’s first Pac-12 win in his second season as OSU’s coach.
And as horrible as OSU might be at throwing the football, the Beavers actually are pretty good at making their opponents look bad, too.
The Beavers (2-4, 1-2 in Pac-12) rank ninth nationally in defensive passing efficiency and are tied for seventh in yards per attempt allowed. Through six games, only two FBS teams have allowed fewer touchdown passes than OSU (4).
Despite allowing 44 points to California, the Beavers held Bears quarterback Davis Webb — the Pac-12’s leader in passing yards per game with an average of 376 — to just 23-of-44 passing for 113 yards, by far his lowest single-game total of the season (though it was revealed that he injured his hand in the first half and had trouble gripping the ball).
The run game has been a bit of a different story. OSU allows 5.18 yards per carry, worse than only California and Oregon in the Pac-12. But OSU is tougher against the pass than any team UW has faced so far.
“They have a variety of blitzes, so it always starts with getting pressure on the quarterback, which they do,” Petersen said. “They have some good secondary guys that cover tightly. And it’s working. They bring a bunch of different types of pressures. The system is a really good system. They’ve used it for quite a while.”
Pro Football Focus recently identified Beavers cornerback Treston Decoud, a senior transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College, as the No. 3 Pac-12 cornerback who “ should be on your radar.”
According to PFF’s numbers, Decoud has allowed only 16 receptions in 39 pass attempts thrown his way, and he has two interceptions and three passes defended. He leads a secondary that starts two seniors, a junior and a redshirt freshman.
“They play with an attitude. Their scheme is not easy,” UW offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith said. “They give you a lot of different looks. They’ve been really, really good against the pass. You look at some of their numbers, people aren’t throwing a bunch of touchdowns against those guys.”
In fact, Oregon State has the best overall defense, in terms of yards per play allowed, that the Huskies have seen this season. The Beavers rank 43rd nationally in that category at 5.27 yards per play. The next-best UW opponent, Stanford, ranks 74th at 5.63.
“They do a lot of different stuff, and their kids aren’t messed up with it,” Petersen said. “A lot of times, you see teams throw a lot of things at you, and they make plays. But you can also get them because their guys are out of position. And (the Beavers) usually never are.”