PULLMAN – Of all the things the Oregon State Beavers do well this year on the football field, nothing is better than the way they stuff the opposition’s running game.
The Beavers have given up 1,135 yards on the ground, but have ripped 514 of those yards back through a Pac-10-leading 39 sacks and 84 tackles for loss. Thus, the 621 yards net rushing OSU (6-4, 4-3) has yielded in 10 games is the best in the conference.
Roughly translated, that means the Beavers’ front seven are … well, they present a challenge to Washington State’s offensive line.
“It’s definitely a challenge,” said WSU sophomore center Kenny Alfred. “They are all highly experienced guys. They’re all powerful. They all have a lot of energy. They come off the ball real low and hard, they play real intelligently and they’re strong guys. That, combined with experience, really helps.
“They play a brand of football that’s real hard-nosed and tough. It’s a good way to play the game.”
“Very good, as good as we’ve seen,” WSU quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach said. “We’ve seen some pretty good defensive fronts, but they are right there with the best.”
The OSU secondary may be limited today because of a combination of first-half suspensions and nagging injuries, but the front seven is another story. No one has run the ball well against Jeff Van Ostrow, Victor Butler, Curtis Coker, Joey LaRocque, Derrick Doggett and the rest of the front seven.
“You look at who they’ve played, and they are getting 1.9 yards per rush against them, so I think it’s affected everybody in what they’ve wanted to do,” said Rosenbach, who calls WSU’s plays.
But Alfred, who welcomes the challenge OSU’s front presents – “That’s the reason we play,” he said – thinks the Cougars (4-6, 2-5) can have some success if they follow a few simple guidelines against the Beavers’ moving, twisting, stunting front.
“We have to execute, No. 1,” he said. “As an O-line, specifically, we have to make our calls and go with them 100 percent. We can’t have any discrepancies, any arguments, things like that. And we are going to have to play hard for four quarters, that’s for sure.”