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At Oregon State, Brandin Cooks Isn’t Walking Through the Door

Friday, October 31, 2014


Photo Credit: iStock

Oregon State ranks 79th out of 125 FBS teams in passing efficiency (123.09) and 95th in total offense (368.1 yards per game).

Interpret those statistics as you will, especially after also considering the Beavers’ 4-3 record and current two-game losing streak with California on deck. Something is obviously amiss, and while it’s not exactly difficult to discern what it is, it’s fascinating to hear opposing Pac-12 coaches pipe up in defense of OSU’s suddenly punchless offense.

These guys all belong to the same fraternity, so it’s not surprising they’d stick up for each other. You know - one for all, all for one. Job security is a shared experience.

What’s happening in Corvallis, according to a couple of the coaches in the conference, is withdrawal. Many media types have speculated that a lack of a deep threat - mainly one starring as a rookie in New Orleans - has grounded Oregon State’s normally potent aerial attack.

This week, Stanford coach David Shaw eliminated all doubt - he was frank in explaining what the Cardinal did to dismantle the Beavers in a 38-14 thrashing last weekend.

“You take Brandin Cooks off your team and you’re a different team,” he said during the Pac-12 coaches’ teleconference call. “Last year, we double-teamed that guy as much as possible, I think we kept him barely under a hundred yards - and he still shook us a couple of times. That guy changed games, and it’s tough not having that weapon. But by us doing that to take him out, other things were left available and we understood that. We accepted that. 

“When you don’t have that threat, it becomes more difficult to move the ball. Our guys did a good job pressuring the quarterback - you don’t have that guy you’re afraid to get behind your defense.”

Sonny Dykes, the coach of OSU’s upcoming opponent, emphasized that Sean Mannion is the focal point, but he, like Shaw, glanced back while addressing the future.

“The key for them is trying to stop the quarterback,” Dykes said. “(Victor) Bolden has been a good productive football player - when he gets his hands on the ball, he does a lot of good things. They have a lot of speed at wide receiver. But everything goes through the quarterback. He’s the guy - if he gets hot and is playing good, they’re tough to stop. 

“They spread it out a little more than they did last year, and sometimes that’s harder to defend than if they’re going to the same guy all of the time - Cooks was obviously a special football player, but they have a lot of good wide receivers, a lot of guys who can do different things.”

Truth is, those guys haven’t done enough things. 

There’s still time, of course, to turn around those pedestrian numbers, but how? Maybe Mike Riley will provide an answer Saturday at Reser Stadium.

Banner photo credit: arl Maasdam/Oregon State Athletics via osubeavers.com


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