The Oregon State Beavers have been an early season disappointment so far in 2013. Despite their 3-1 record, they aren’t considered much of a threat right now in the Pac 12. Part of the reason is their season-opening loss at the hands of the Eastern Washington Eagles of FCS which revealed a major flaw in the Beavers’ defense. Sean Mannion has been able to bail them out since then with his strong play in the passing game, but Oregon State needs something from their running game to get some offensive balance if they hope to find success in the Pac 12 this season.
So far, the running attack has been non-existent. As a team, Oregon State is averaging just 2.1 yards per carry, the fourth worst mark in college football, and rank No. 121 in the country with 55 rushing yards per game. The team’s leading rusher, Storm Woods, has just 152 yards and two touchdowns and hasn’t broken a run over nine yards yet this season. His 3.4 yards per carry average should boost the team’s overall average but they’re unsure when he’ll return after leaving the game against the Utah Utes with a concussion.
That puts the pressure on Terron Ward to try and spark something on the ground for Oregon State behind what was supposed to be a much-improved offensive line. So far, however, he has struggled, averaging just 2.3 yards per carry while gaining 69 yards on 30 attempts. Against the San Diego State Aztecs as the primary back, Ward carried just 12 times for 26 yards and a touchdown. As the Beavers’ schedule gets tougher, that complete lack of production just won’t cut it.
Mannion has been spectacular so far, but he can’t carry Oregon State completely by himself. While Mike Riley tries to shuffle his defense around to resemble a capable unit, getting any consistent production from the running game will be a huge help. If they can run the ball, Oregon State will be able to control the clock better and shorten some games without having to hope that the defense wakes up and makes a stop at some point.
Oregon State can’t hope to outscore everybody on their roster with just a passing attack so finding something to spark the running game and restore balance to the offense should be a top priority in Corvallis this week before the Colorado Buffaloes come to town next Saturday.