After a tough home loss in overtime last week that put the No. 5 Oregon Ducks (10-1, 7-1) national championships to long shot status, the team heads just a few miles North this week to take on the No. 15 Oregon State Beavers (8-2, 6-2) in the 116th edition of the Civil War.
Oregon State enters the contest off of a decisive 62-14 victory over the California Golden Bears. The victory signaled the end of the Jeff Tedford era while giving Oregon State their second largest conference point total. The Beavers have one of the better tandems of wide receivers in the nation with Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks both proving to be dangerous deep threats. Quarterback Sean Mannion played a magnificent game last week and looks to be back to full strength after tearing his meniscus earlier this season
Oregon comes into the game having lost for the first time since last November. Their 13 game winning streak was the longest in the nation. The Ducks struggled running the ball the past two weeks gaining less than 200 in both games.
Today we continue our series looking at the match-ups on each side of the ball with our focus on the offense of both teams.
Oregon State: Sean Mannion (6-5, 212) was the clear starter to begin the season. After his knee injury, though, Cody Vaz (6-1, 198) came on to pass for over 300 yards against BYU. Mannion returned against Washington but struggled before being replaced late by Vaz in their first loss of the season. Vaz was then injured against Stanford bringing Mannion back to his starting role.
Mannion is the more accomplished passer of the two having completed 149 passes in 238 attempts for 1904 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has been more prone to turnovers, though, having thrown 9 interceptions in his seven appearances. If Vaz is healthy this week, he has also played well for the Beavers completing 80 of 140 attempts for 1096 yards with 8 touchdowns. Though he throws for a lower completion percentage (57.1) than Mannion (62.6), Vaz offers better mobility and has thrown just one interception in his five appearances this season.
Oregon: After two brilliant performances against USC and Cal, Marcus Mariota (6-4, 211) was not at his best against Stanford. Despite his less than stellar performance, Mariota is still ranked 6th in the nation for pass efficiency completing 201 of 288 pass attempts for 2371 yards and 29 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions. Mariota is a dual threat and has done an outstanding job when needed carrying the ball 90 times for 605 yards this season.
Behind Mariota will be Bryan Bennett (6-3, 204). Bennett has one start to his credit coming against Colorado last season. This year, playing a back-up to Mariota, Bennett has completed 20 of 37 passes for 211 yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Bennett is dangerous with his feet as well having accumulated 38 carries for 167 yards and 6 rushing touchdowns in his seven appearances.
Mannion has thrown for more yards per game than Mariota, while Mariota has obviously run for more yards. From a total offense per game standpoint, Mariota has a slight lead with about 12 yards per game more, but the big difference is in Mariota's accuracy completing a much higher percentage of his passes and making comparatively fewer mistakes with just 6 interceptions in 11 games.
Oregon State: The Beavers have one of the best wide receiver tandems in the nation, outside of USC. Markus Wheaton (6-1, 182) gets the nod on one side for the Beavers. Wheaton, who has track speed, is the leading receiver for Oregon State with 69 receptions for 986 yards and 10 touchdowns. Behind Wheaton is Richard Mullaney (6-3, 191) a sparsely used redshirt freshman who has show promise in his brief appearances with 7 catches for 95 yards.
Starting opposite Wheaton will be Brandin Cooks (5-10, 179), a sophomore who leads the team in receiving yards with 58 catches for 1039 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. Playing behind him will be Micah Hatfield (6-1, 180) a junior from Lake Oswego. For the season, Hatfield has just 5 catches for 38 yards, but has scored one touchdown.
Starting in the slot for Oregon State will be Kevin Cummings (6-1, 181) a reliable junior who has 10 catches for 117 yards in ten appearances this season.
Oregon: Starting at the wide receiver position for Oregon on one side will be Keanon Lowe (5-9, 181), a sophomore from Jesuit High School in the Portland area. Lowe has played well for the Ducks in 2012 and has 22 catches for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. Behind Lowe is Will Murphy (6-2, 193) a senior walk-on who had a little breakout performance against Washington State with 2 catches for 38 yards including a career long 29 yard reception. For the year, Murphy has 14 catches for 146 yards including his first career touchdown.
Starting opposite Lowe will be Josh Huff (5-11, 205). Huff played has played exception for three consecutive games notching his second consecutive 100 yard receiving performance against the Bears catching 5 passes for 109 yards and 3 touchdowns. For the year Huff now has 24 catches for a team leading 405 yards and 7 touchdowns. Behind Huff is Eric Dungy (6-1, 183) who started two games while Huff was injured. Through nine appearances Dungy has notched 5 receptions for 41 yards.
Daryle Hawkins (6-4, 202) gets the start at the third wideout position. Hawkins, an all-purpose athlete the prior two seasons for the Ducks has nestled into his starting role well with 22 catches for 191 yards and 3 touchdowns. Behind Hawkins is Bralon Addison (5-10, 189) a freshman from Texas. Despite coming off the bench, Addison is the third leading receiver on the team with 22 catches for 243 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Though listed as a running back on the depth chart, De'Anthony Thomas frequently lines up in a slot receiver position for the Ducks. He has been the target of most defensive efforts this season but has still managed to lead the team in receptions with 40 receptions for 381 yards and 4 touchdowns.
In addition, the Ducks also have Dwayne Stanford (6-5, 195) another freshman who has contributed with 11 catches for 106 yards.
EDGE: Oregon State
The Beavers have the second best wideout tandem in the conference with Wheaton and Cooks combining for 127 receptions, 2025 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Duck receivers can match the speed of the Beavers, but are not used as often in the passing game. Both Oregon and Oregon State receivers are strong blockers.
Oregon: The Beavers have struggled to find a lead back since the departure of Quizz Rodgers. This season has been another running back by committee approach with Storm Woods (6-0, 202) listed as the starter this weekend. Woods leads the team with 143 carries for 698 yards and 7 touchdowns this season. Woods is a reliable receiver out of the backfield as well with 28 catches for 218 yards this season.
Terron Ward (5-7, 195) will be the primary backup to Woods. Ward has played well and ran for over 100 yards last weekend against Cal. For the year Ward has 48 carries for 313 yards with 4 touchdowns.
Malcolm Agnew (5-9, 204) has seen limited action this season with 51 carries for 193 yards.
Oregon: Kenjon Barner (5-11, 192) had shown he could be a workhorse back last season against Arizona State. Against USC he showed he can be a Heisman contender as well. Barner carried the ball 38 times for 321 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. The yards are a school record easily surpassing the 288 yards former team mate LaMichael James put up against Arizona last season. Barner injured his thumb early in the Cal game but managed to play through the pain. So far this season Barner has 220 carries for 1426 yards (6.5 ypc) and 19 rushing touchdowns. He has good hands out of the backfield with 19 catches for 232 yards and 1 touchdown.
Behind Barner will be De'Anthony Thomas. Despite a limited number of carries, Thomas still manages to excite the crowd just about every time he touches the ball. So far through ten games, Thomas has 73 carries for 564 yards. Even though teams have been keying specifically on him during conference play, Thomas is still averaging an incredible 7.7 yards per carry. He has scored 8 rushing touchdowns this season.
Providing a little more security is true freshman Byron Marshall. After a solid debut against Arkansas State, Marshall showed great improvements in his running over the past several games. So far this season, in six appearances, Marshall has 79 carries for 417 yards and 4 more rushing touchdowns.
Oregon created even more depth with the addition of tight end Colt Lyerla dropping back into the backfield and carrying the ball. Lyerla has 13 carries for 77 yards and one touchdown over the last four games for Oregon.
With Thomas and Barner, Oregon will have the edge on just about every opponent they face this season. This week is no different. The emergence of Marshall as a third back provides the Ducks with more security and depth. Oregon State is a pass first team that averages just over 120 yards per game on the ground.
Oregon State: The Beavers start Michael Phillipp (6-4, 315) at the left tackle position. Phillipp, a redshirt junior has started 32 during his career including 10 straight this season. Behind him will be Derek Nielsen (6-4, 286), a sophomore from Sheldon High School with very little game experience.
At the left guard position Josh Andrews (6-3, 297) gets the start. The junior missed five games last season with injury, but has started 14 consecutive games for the Beavers. Behind Andrews is Josh Mitchell (6-2, 274) a freshman who has played a limited role in mop-up duty.
Starting at right tackle is Colin Kelly (6-5, 295) a senior with 22 consecutive starts. Playing behind him will be Gavin Andrews (6-5, 324) the massive freshman.
At the right guard position, Grant Enger (6-6, 293) is likely to get the start. The junior injured his leg in the Stanford game two weeks ago and missed the Cal game. If Enger is unable to play, Derek Nielsen will get his second start at the right guard position.
The Beavers start Isaac Seumalo (6-3, 302) at center. Despite being a true freshman, Seumalo has been exceptional this season; but that is to be expected from a coaches son. Behind him will be Roman Sapolu, a sophomore who did not play last season.
Oregon: Jake Fisher (6-6, 294), a sophomore who appeared in all 13 games as a true freshman last season holds down the right tackle position. Behind him is Everett Benyard (6-7, 305) a junior with 14 appearances last season including at least 20 snaps in four of those appearances.
On the other side is redshirt Freshman Tyler Johnston (6-6, 292) making his tenth start for the Ducks. Behind Johnstone will be Kyle Long (6-7, 311) a senior transfer who engaged in a spirited battle with Johnstone for the starting position during fall camp.
Inside at guard, Oregon starts Kyle Long. Long played impressively the last thee weekends and earns his fourth start for the Ducks. Behind Long will be Hamani Stevens (6-3, 298) a redshirt sophomore who played in 8 games last season.
At the other guard will be Ryan Clanton (6-5, 305) a senior who appeared in 11 games last season for Oregon. Behind him is Nick Cody (6-5, 310) a senior who started all 13 games last season but is battling back from an undisclosed injury.
Center will be manned by Hroniss Grasu (6-3, 294) a sophomore from Crespi High School. Grasu has started every game of his Duck career (24) and is the anchor of the line. Behind Grasu on the depth chart is Karrington Armstrong (6-3, 290) a junior who appeared in 8 games last season for the Ducks.
Oregon State is not a very good rushing team averaging just 120.2 yards per game on the ground. The Beavers are third worst in total rushing yards per game and their 3.6 yards per carry rank fourth worst in the conference. The line does an adequate job protecting the quarterback allowing 22 sacks on the season, ranking fifth in the Pac-12 conference.
The rushing numbers pale in comparison with the Ducks staggering total of 313.5 yards per game and 6.0 yards per carry. The Ducks average nearly 100 more yards per game on the ground than their next closest conference opponent and more than double what Oregon State averages per game. On the season the Ducks offensive line has allowed just 15 sacks as well, tied for the conference lead with Stanford and USC.
Oregon State : Colby Prince (6-5, 257) the senior from Albany gets the start. Prince has been a capable receiver during his career with Oregon State and has 17 catches this season for 130 yards and one touchdown. Caleb Smith (6-6, 264) has been the primary backup, but has just 2 catches for 19 yards this season.
The Beavers also employ an H-back with Connor Hamlett (6-7, 259) getting the start. Hamlett has been a dangerous threat in the passing game with 21 catches for 276 yards and 3 touchdowns this season.
Oregon: Colt Lyerla returned from a leg injury against USC. Despite not catching many passes this season, Lyerla has been dominant at times. His presence makes the opponent account for his incredible athletic ability and he has grown as a blocker this season. After another great performance last weekend Lyerla now has 20 catches for 314 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Pharoah Brown (6-4, 251) will be the back up this week. For the season the true freshman has 2 receptions for 42 yards. Brown made his first start against the Buffaloes with Lyerla out due to a leg injury.
Converted defensive end Koa Ka'ai (6-4, 251), the best blocker of the group has shown good hands in his limited early opportunities with 2 catches for 18 yards, but returned to defense against Cal due to a defensive line depleted by injury.
The production of the tight ends is nearly the same, but Lyerla is considerably more explosive and athletic than Prince. Oregon State gets some usage out of Hamlett who, though listed as an h-back, is used in a similar manner to a tight end.
Oregon State: The Beavers have gone back and forth this year at quarterback with both Mannion and Vaz playing well when called upon; with the notable exception of Mannion's performance against the Huskies. The Beavers average 120.2 yards per game on the ground, third worst in the conference. The passing game has been where Oregon State excels on offense averaging 303.4 yards per game through the air, good for third in the conference behind pass heavy Washington State and USC . The Beavers are also sixth in scoring at 29.5 points per game.
The Beavers struggle in converting both third and fourth down attempts. On third down conversions the Beavers rank 10th in the Pac-12 with a 32.6 percent conversion rate. On fourth downs, the Beavers are no better converting just 38.5 percent of their attempts which ranks 11th in the conference.
Oregon: Despite struggling against Stanford, there is no doubt that the Oregon offense is still an elite unit. The Ducks lead the conference in scoring with 51.1 points per game. On the ground, the Ducks have been able to have their way with most opponents averaging over 313 yards per game and 6 yards per carry.
Oregon also leads the conference in total offense averaging 548.3 yards per game. Despite not being a pass-oriented team, the Ducks are also the conference leader in pass efficiency with Mariota leading the conference in completion percentage and overall pass efficiency.
When faced with needing a first down, the Ducks also lead the conference in third and fourth down conversions. On third down, Oregon has converted 48.8 percent of their opportunities into first downs. They are even more efficient on fourth down converting 66.7 percent of the time. When combined that means that of the 166 times the Ducks have faced a third down, they have converted to a first down 95 times for a whopping 57.2 percent conversion rate.
In the red-zone, Oregon is converting 90 percent of the time; also tops on the conference.
This is a clear edge for the Ducks. Oregon is better at nearly every offensive position; bigger, faster and stronger. The Ducks have shown that they can score on almost anyone while Oregon State is middle of the Pac-12 at 29.5 points per game.
The home crowd will help Oregon State, but Oregon's offense will be on a mission after their first truly lackluster performance of the season.
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