As Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion inches closer to the league’s all-time passing record, it’s important to remember that the Beavers are looking to make as much of an impact on the ground as in the air.
And so far, they have. Through two games, the Beavers are averaging 170 rushing yards per game. That’s up significantly from the 94.4 they averaged last year and 124.5 the year before that. Obviously, we only have a small data sample to work with. But for perspective, OSU averaged 81 yards on the ground through its first two games last season and 100 yards through the first two games of 2012.
Portland State and Hawaii aren’t exactly the ’85 Bears. But it’s progress. And the Beavers have thus far done it with the split role of Terron Ward and Storm Woods -- which by the way is a great name for a law firm: Ward, Woods & Associates.
Ward has carried 25 times for 162 yards (6.5 average) and two scores. Woods has carried 26 times for 160 yards (6.2 average) with a long of 50, but no touchdowns. He does, however, have one through the air.
As the Beavers face stiffer competition, the emphasis on the ground game will continue to be a vital part of what they want to do on offense. That said, injuries on the offensive line still have to be taken into account. The Beavers were hopeful in the preseason that they might get Isaac Seumalo back this week against San Diego State, but that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. And Roman Sapolu started in place of Garrett Weinreich at left guard against Hawaii. Weinreich hasn’t practiced during the bye week, so his status for SDSU is questionable.
In two games, San Diego State has only allowed two rushing touchdowns and they rank in the top 50 nationally in rush defense. They gave up a 21-7 second-half lead on the road against North Carolina, before falling 31-27, and cruised in their opener against Northern Arizona.
Keep in mind, too, that the Beavers needed three scores and a pick-six in the fourth quarter to erase a 27-14 deficit last year against the Aztecs in San Diego.
The Aztecs, who are also coming off a bye week, have matured into a pretty good Mountain West team. Should be a good test for the Beavers before conference play ramps up with a trip to USC on Sept. 27.