The Oregon State Beavers went up against their biggest challenge of the season last week in the Stanford Cardinal and came up just short in a 20-12 heartbreaker in Corvallis. They have a short week to bounce back from that loss to prepare for a Friday night showdown with the USC Trojans at home who will bring a similar attacking style to try and disrupt the Oregon State offense. If the Beavers hope to avoid a losing streak, they need to address what hurt them against the Cardinal and fix their pass protection against pressure.
Last week, Stanford found early success in bringing heavy blitzes that landed on quarterback Sean Mannion. That early pressure rattled the offensive line and got them out of sorts, allowing Stanford to maintain their pressure when rushing the passer even when they dropped eight men into coverage. Trent Murphy was unstoppable all night long and finished with 2.5 sacks in the game, earning himself Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors in the process.
USC brings a similar ability to get after the quarterback. They rank third in the Pac 12 this season with 26 sacks as a team, one fewer than Stanford. They’re able to bring pressure from numerous positions with four different players posting four sacks or more this season. While they will miss having Morgan Breslin in the lineup because of a hip injury, the combination of Devon Kennard (5.0 sacks), Leonard Williams (4.0) and George Uko (4.0) should give the Oregon State offensive front plenty to deal with.
When Sean Mannion has time to scan the field, he’s been better than anyone in the country at throwing the football down the field. Against Stanford, he didn’t get that time and the entire offense struggled as they failed to complete a pass for more than 20 yards all night long. The pass protection must step up to answer the call against what will be another aggressive and athletic defensive front that will get creating in how it brings pressure on Friday. How well the pocket holds up for Mannion will be the difference for Oregon State against the onslaught of USC.