FROM PULLMAN — After a two-week hiatus, our interview with an opposing team's beat writer is back. Today, we ask Lindsay Schnell of The Oregonian five questions about Oregon State. Read on.
1. OSU's pass defense numbers aren't great, but it looks like opponents have thrown against them quite a bite more than they've run. Is the Beavers' ranking skewed a bit by that, or have they struggled more against the pass than the run?
Schnell: “They have definitely struggled more against the pass than the run, but what you have to remember is that those numbers were a little different before OSU played Arizona, where Matt Scott hung 403 passing yards on them. The secondary is still working out some kinks, but quarterbacks are going to have a tougher and tougher time as the season goes on because no one wants to throw to Jordan Poyer, one of the best cornerbacks in the country, and Rashaad Reynolds, a junior cornerback, is quickly proving that he's an interception threat, too. Also, if your Heisman candidate couldn't find any room to run, wouldn't you throw the ball, too?”
2. Sean Mannion is obviously off to a nice start. In what area do you think he's progressed the most from last season?
Schnell: “Mannion's progress, along with the whole team's progress, is pretty easy to explain: He grew up. Last year as freshman he was trying to figure out what this whole college football thing was about. After a year of taking his lumps, the game has slowed down for him, so he understands better which order to look at his options, and he's not in panic mode, which has help him cut down on the interceptions. He's a terrific student of the game — his favorite quote might be “we've just gotta watch some more film” — and all his studying has paid off. It should also be noted that his offensive line is much improved, which is giving him more time to make decisions in the pocket.”
3. WSU fans saw Malcolm Agnew have a pretty nice game against the Cougars last year. What stood out to the coaches about Storm Woods this season?
Schnell: “Woods looked like the leader in spring, simply because he's so strong and explosive. The question was if he could learn the playbook. He did, and each week he improves a little more as he continues to understand the speed of the college game and as he gets more playing time. Agnew still brings a great running style to the team, but it's always a question of if his body (he's got some very tender hamstrings) can hold up through an entire season.”
4. What's the biggest challenge the Cougars present this week?
Schnell: “Without a doubt, it's the passing game. As we discussed earlier, OSU hasn't been great against the pass so far this season, and Mike Leach's Air Raid attack should give the Beavers' secondary plenty of opportunities to show they've improved. Some say this is a trap game, and that Oregon State could get caught looking ahead if they're not careful. This is the first game this season the Beavers are favored to win, and historically, OSU hasn't played well with that type of hype.”
5. Is there any way to get In-N-Out to deliver to Corvallis? How about Pullman?
Schnell: “Personally, I am pushing for Corvallis to get a Chick-fil-A before an In-n-Out, but nobody asked me, and I think athletes at OSU would override my vote. Mike Riley joked that he'd get In-n-Out to the team after every game if he needed to, and I'm thinking that's caused quite the head for the football operations staff in Corvallis …”
Follow Lindsay Schnell on Twitter: @LindsayRae19