29.Nov.2009 Analysis: Beavers Run Defense vs Ducks Rushing Offense

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For all the flash and modernism that surrounds the Duck’s program, for them the game will come down to one of the oldest axioms in football: the team with the better running game wins the game.

The Ducks are ranked 8th in the nation in rushing, averaging 232 yards per game. However, Oregon State only yields 98 yards per game to opponents. So what gives? To answer that question, I had to look through the Beaver’s body of work to determine if that average of 98 yards is legit, or if it’s a matter of teams passing on the young, untested secondary.

Game 1: Portland State does not have a DI back, and they run a pass-first offense.77 yards rushing.

Game 2: See above. 82 yards rushing.

Game 3: Cincinnati was all over the secondary (especially #28). There are only so many yards to gain in game, and when you give up 332 in the air that only leaves 76 on the ground. It’s not that the Beavers stopped Cincy; it’s that Cincy wanted those yards via the pass.

Game 4: This was the first real test for the rushing defense. Arizona is definitely a run first offense with a good DI back. They also run a spread. The Beavers gave up 134 yards rushing on 33 attempts. If you remember, Foles was throwing bubble screens much of the game, keeping the Beavers around the line of scrimmage. I’d say 134 yards is an average day and does not suggest a top 15 rushing defense.

Game 5: Sun Devils. This was a dominating performance by the Beavers. 31 carries for 68 yards. They gave up 338 yards through the air, however, suggesting that when they sell out to stop the run their secondary becomes vulnerable.

Game 6: 149 yards to the 11th best rushing offense in Stanford. That’s pretty good. However…

Game 7: 227 yards to USC, the 40th best rushing offense is horrendous.

Game 8: UCLA is ranked 98th in rushing. The Beavers gave them 51 yards, less than half their average. That is dominating.

Game 9: 31 yards to a very good Cal rushing attack. However, Best was injured early so this game sheds little light.

Game 10: 30 attempts for 121 yards. Most notable is that Locker was held to -13 rushing on 6 attempts with a long of 16 yards. Locker is probably the QB most similar to Masoli.

Game 11: 59 yards to Washington State. The Cougars pad all numbers.

So, how good is the Beavers rush defense? I’d look at 3 games–Arizona, USC, and Stanford–to find the answer to that question. There’s no reason to consider the Cal game because Best was injured and the Bears did not try to run the ball after that.  In those 3 games, the Beavers gave up a combined 510 rushing yards on 98 carries for a 5.2 average. That is not very good. Additionally, in the same 3 games the Beavers had 7 tackles for a loss resulting in -23 yards rushing, meaning the Beavers actually give up 5.4 yards per carry versus competent rushing attacks. Why does this number matter? It paints a more accurate picture than the 5.2 average because the Ducks have only give 12 sacks all year and the Beavers have only earned 15 sacks, so you have to figure the Beavers will have no tackles for a loss or sacks.

The bottom line is that the Beavers run defense numbers have been inflated by bad opponents (Portland State, UNLV, Washington State), teams with injuries (e.g. Cal), or teams electing to pass and take advantage of the secondary (e.g. Arizona, Cincy, Arizona State, UCLA). Having watched almost every play of every game this year, I can say with confidence that this is a very erratic and average run defense. It just goes to show you how stats can paint a picture, yet when you dig deeper you reveal a scene entirely different.

The Beavers do have an edge in the passing game, but is it enough to overcome the Ducks advantage in the running game? Stay tuned–tomorrow I will analyze that match up…

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  • Anonymous says:
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    Vote Quizz for Heisman:
    http://promo.espn.go.com/espn/contests/theheismanvote/2009/

    Quizz has a legit shot to be invited to NY for the Heisman if we beat the ducks. It will help if he pass Case Keenum in the fan vote in the next few days. You can vote everyday. From ESPN where Quizz is #4:

    4. Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State: Tim Tebow and Colt McCoy deserve consideration in these final two spots, but under the given criteria, I simply could not put either ahead of Rodgers or Ndamukong Suh. Much like Spiller, Rodgers is the most outstanding player on a surging Oregon State squad. It likely will take a monster showing in an upset victory over rival Oregon for Rodgers to get the invite to New York City. As of right now, 1,749 total yards of offense (1,313 yards on 239 carries and 436 yards on 67 receptions) and 20 touchdowns (19 rushing, one receiving) earn him a spot in the top five.

  • Paulscpa says:
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    I see your usage of the stats Angry and you have solid points but at times your slant is, well, angry and cynical. I would agree the USC outing was a poor showing. But when you talk about ASU gaining 300+ through the air, you are not taking into account that last what 8-10 minute drive where the Beavs allowed a ton of yardage to avoid giving up the big play. So most of those yards were not earned during the “normal” course of play. If you look at ASU yardage before that last drive you would subtract what 90 yards or so. Now during the course of the game those 68 rushing yards allowed and less than 250 through the air look a lot better. UA did cream us on those bubble screens but again that was before some personnel changes were made in the secondary which solidified both the run and passing defense. Not sure why you are so willing to brush off Cal’s numbers since Vereen had two great games subsequent to the OSU game and Tedford has stated the two (Best and Vereen) were interchangeable. We stopped Cal’s run game even when Best was in. After his injury we drove the length of the field, scored a TD and ran out most of the half. Thus we pretty much dealt with their run game in the first half and they changed things up “because” of that and not Best.
    I know this sees things through different glasses but I think it is a bit better than you state. After 11 games where 8 common opponents exist for everyone in the conference it seems we are at least solid on defense. Will the ducks gain more than 98 yards, oh yeah very likely. But if we can hold them in the 175-190 range without giving up huge pass plays we give ourselves a chance.
    Just a different perspective I guess.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      Well, because after Best left the game they Bears didn’t use Vereen (5 carries?).

      That game was just an odd/anomaly from which little could be determined. It skews the stats in the Beaver’s favor while the course of the game was abnormal and therefore had little to do with their performance as a defense, so it should be left out imo. The biggest reason for optimism is the performance vs Gerhart. The Beavs are one of only two teams to keep him under 100 yards.

      As far as the ASU passing attack, sure I’ll concede that point since I’m mainly interested in the rushing defense.

  • Paulscpa says:
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    Maybe I am way off base here, but I do not believe Stanford is the correct gauge. Their straight ahead pound the snot out of you style I think fits the Beavers defense much better than the spread (I know duh fella). But could the Arizona game be a positive sign for the scheme? We forced Foles to beat us and dad gum it he did. But I think he is a much better passer than Masoli and the ducks don’t seem to use the short game near as well as UA. Mind you Foles is nowhere near the runner Masoli is. But we kept the Wildcats version of the spread in front of us and maybe looking at that film and what Boise did my give us the best clues.

    • angrybeaver says:
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      Well, no team is the correct gauge because Oregon is unique. What I said is that the Stanford game is a reason for optimism. Like, if you want to say, “The Beavers have shut down a great running game in the past!” and be optimistic about it. You know, not everyone wants to be cynical so I throw a little optimism in here and there. 😉

      • Paulscpa says:
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        Alright, I can give you that one. Less than four days now. Not that I am counting. I believe this will be one of the worst work days as far as productivity in the history of our state.

        • angrybeaver says:
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          Haha. Yeah, extend that to one of the worst weeks.

          I’m going to have a hard time down here, too. Thinking of taking Wednesday off just to mentally prepare/avoid suicide.

          • beavers4life says:
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            I have class on Thursday night….to Skip or to avoid the score and go home and watch the recorded version at home to see how it turns out and not have a clue of the game?! I would much prefer to watch it live, but to watch it recorded and not know the final score….that would be just like watching it live! IDK! It’s the last actual class of the year and we were allowed to skip 1 class no questions asked I believe. The one thing is, we’ll be getting a paper back for that class, so I was thinking of going out there, enduring the first half hour or so, then leaving at 6:15 or 6:30 and listen to Mike Parker as I rush to go to the nearest bar to watch the game! Which sounds better? I vote bar, but then again, my parents are asking me not to skip…hmmm…epic CW and miss live action and wonder all through class, or skip out the last near 3 hours of class? lol

          • angrybeaver says:
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            Is the class at OSU? If it is, you’re not going to be able to avoid the score before getting home.

            So, I say skip the class. This is a once in 113(?) year Civil War. Which means you’ll never see this again before you die. Which means class comes 2nd. And this is coming from someone who put a lot of merit and effort into schoolwork and graduated Magna Cum Laude!

            Skip it! And tell your parents that Angrybeaver told you so.

          • Anonymous says:
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            It’s not at OSU, it’s at a community College and I can avoid the score without a hitch. Sooo…that’s why I have a dale-ma.

          • Diggs says:
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            Who holds a class on this Thursday night? Seriously. This is like a special centennial Oregon holiday 🙂

            That’s tough man, but I’d also vote for skipping as bad as that sounds. I rarely skipped even on those last days cause I always felt bad, but really sometimes, it’s just not worth it. Enjoy the moment and watch!

  • OSBeavs says:
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    I like your point about a few games inflating our stats but also keep in mind that the SEC plays three to four cream puffs a year that also inflate their stats (not to mention the ones in conference like vandy). I agree, our defense has been suspect all year but there is some room for optimism. Masoli is not very good when he is forced out of the pocket, especially against his body. If we can force the pass and then make him throw on the run his accuracy decreases more than most qb’s (see 2 INTs against Zona when against his body). I am not nervous about a 5 yd/carry avg against Oregon though, its the big play that I am worried about. Interestingly, I saw Oregon abandon the run on 2 and 5 or 6 several times against Zona. If that continues we are in luck.

    • beavs4life says:
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      OSBeavs,

      I doubt Chip Kelly won’t try to run in 3rd and long situations because he wants to test theOS(U) defense right off the bat because of what they did to the beavs last year. If we stop their run attack in those situations(unlike last year) then yes, they will abandon the run game in those situations. I think they will risk it every time though because of how well they executed it last year.

      Also, speaking of last year, Do you think the Beavs had their nickel or dime packages(pass protection) in when the Ucks were in 3rd and long situations? If that’s the case, then that needs to change. The Ucks are run first run second and if we must we’ll pass the ball. The most Masoli passed the ball in one game was against Arizona with 47 attempts and 26 completions. his avg. attempt per game is 27.4. His lowest passing game of the year so far, Utah at 16 and Wazzu at 18.

      The rest are as follows:
      BSU: 14/27
      Purdue: 11/21
      Utah: 4/16
      Cal: 21/25
      Wazzu: 14/18
      UCLA: N/A
      Washington: 14/22
      USC: 19/31
      Stanford: 21/37
      ASU: 10/20
      AZ: 26/47

      Canfield:
      PSU: 8/11
      UNLV: 25/31W
      Cincy: 29/45L
      AZ: 31/47L
      ASU: 18/30W
      Stanford: 22/32W
      USC: 30/43L
      UCLA: 25/34W
      CAL: 29/39W
      Washington: 21/29
      Wazzu: 22/29

      So if we throws 40 or more with more than 10 incompletions, we lose the game.

      Jaqcuizz:
      16/103yds(PSU), 26/166yds(UNLV), 20/73(Cincy), 16/85(AZ), 17/81(ASU), 33/189yds(Stanford), 20/113(USC), 24/112(UCLA), 25/67(Cal), 18/159(Washington), 24/165(Wazzu)

      So as you can see, 4 games Quizz went under 100 yards, and we lost 2/4 of those games. If Quizz can’t run the ball against the Ucks, we’re in for a looooong night again offensively. The Ucks should have LaMichael act as Jacquizz against the defense, but LaMichael won’t be a good fit because he won’t know how to juke defenders like Quizz does everyday in practice. lol

      • angrybeaver says:
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        What’s interesting is that Masoli throws that much; that’s pretty good balance. I thought he threw about 15 times per game.

  • beavs4life says:
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    I also was curious since this is rushing defense…Masoli and LaMichaels highest rushing stats….ready for this? USC game: Masoli: 13 attempts for 164 yards(Masoli’s first game this season for rushing well over a 100 yards…LaMichael: 24 attempts for 183 yards.

    LaMicheal had 4 games where he rushed for 150 or more besides the 183, and 3 other games at 125(Stanford), 117(Arizona), and 118(Cal). the other 3 he was under 100 yards with 81 against Wazzu being the closest to 100 yards. So if we can hold Masoli under a 100 yards rushing and LaMichael around 120 yards rushing, we should give ourselves ample opportunity to win this ball game! With that I like our chances! 🙂

    • angrybeaver says:
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      So you think we can give 220 yards on the ground and win? Maybe we squeak one out giving up that much, but that’s a lot of rushing yards. Another interesting stat is that the Ducks fumble often, but the Beavers are one of the worst teams in recovering/causing fumbles.

      • beavers4life says:
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        Angry,

        I believe if we hold the Ucks to 220 yds rushing that would be a great day for us. That will shock the nation good. The reason why I say that is because our defense didn’t do so well against Cincy(run/pass rush) and now at the end of the season, our defense has grown and gained experience.

        The yards JM and LMJ totaled together for each game broken down.

        BSU(36)L, Purdue(140)W, Utah(199)W, Cal(139)W, Wazzu(133)W, Washington(208)W, USC(347)W, Stanford(180)L, ASU(217)W, AZ(178)W.

        So it’s very possible for OSU to stop their run game. The way the Ucks score with the run=our way to score passing the ball. If we can slow their running game and get a few 3 and outs, and we score on every drive, but maybe 2 or 3 at most, then we can win this game. Whoever scores last and punts/kicks field goals the less will win this game…oh and out score the opponent. Turnover battle-OSU has the edge.

        GO BEAVS!!!

  • JackBeav says:
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    I never liked this stat. If you’re ahead early, the opposition passes to catch up. If the opposition runs a pass heavy scheme, the stat is meaningless. The same goes for offensive stats. When Stanford fell behind on us, it was because we rightly dared Luck to beat us. We got ahead, and we went conservative. Stanford took what they could get, and that meant going to their strength to try and get back in the game. Stanford did it to the Ducks, etc…. Stanford did give up 230 yards rushing, but 56 came on an early score by James where UO’s left guard dragged Stanford’s DE out of a gaping hole by the face mask. I still don’t know how the refs missed that one. I could see it clearly in real time, and all the replays showed #77 pulling the defender out of the hole by his head.

    So my answer would be that we can give up the run yards if we shut down the pass. They rely heavily on yards after catch. Their other big pass plays come on anticipated run plays which draw the safeties up. I think our defense is a little too conservative to make this mistake. As long as we press the receivers and don’t allow them to beat us over the top, we can treat them like any other option team.

    Last year, we had a good plan to stop them, and we did early. We just had nothing to offer while their defense was still fresh. No run game equaled an early deficit, and their offense feeds off that situation. If we start the game by pushing their defense down the field, we may very likely never have to look back. Their offensive line has little skill other than their option scheme. If they are also pushed into the backfield, Masoli could be in for a long day. We only need to flush and contain, and the game will take care of itself.

    Easier said than done. I also worry about which offiating crew shows up.

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