Tight endConnor Hamlett
will be an important factor in breaking down Hawai’i’s secondary. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
A week after beating Portland State in their home opener, The Oregon State football team travels to the Aloha State to take on the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors. Mike Riley and the Beavs will look to upend the bad feelings left behind after week 1’s underwhelming performance against Portland State.
Saturday’s matchup will be the tenth meeting of the two squads, with Oregon State holding a 6-3 advantage. The most recent contest ended in a 33-14 Beaver victory last year at Reser Stadium.
The Beavers find themselves in familiar surroundings as last year’s team finished out December with a 38-23 Hawai’i Bowl victory over Boise State on Christmas Eve.
Week 2 marks the second home game of 2014 for the Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii’s home opener ended in heartbreaking fashion, with The Washington Huskies escaping the islands with a questionable 17-16 victory. It was an unsettling finish for a team expected to contend with the likes of Oregon in the Pac 12’s Northern division.
Hawai’i surrendered zero turnovers in the game and shutout the Huskies offense in the second half. The Rainbow Warriors forced 8 punts and allowed the Huskies only 119 yards in the third and forth quarter. Had Washington been forced to punt before running the clock out in the forth quarter, Hawai’i could very easily be 1-0 right now.
It should also be noted that with less than a minute left, Washington tailback Lavon Coleman rushed for nine yards and what initially appeared to be the game-ending first down. However, through the magic of television replay, it was evident that Coleman had stepped out of bounds well short of the first down marker. How a play that critical to the outcome of the game was not reviewed is beyond this writer’s powers of explanation.
To avoid a similar offensive drought, Sean Mannion will need to spread the ball around in the same fashion he did against Portland State. Three players had five receptions each, while two more had four receptions.
Tailback Terron Ward caught four passes out of the backfield and demonstrated terrific post-catch running ability in the open field. The Senior from Antioch, Calif. will need to show the same speed and versatility to help open up down-field targets for Mannion.
Tight ends Connor Hamlett, Caleb Smith, and Kellen Clute combined for 10 catches and 141 yards against Portland State. Both Hamlett and Smith had ample opportunities inside the 2o yard line, but were unable to convert those chances into scores. All three tight ends will need to step up their playmaking abilities to improve Oregon State’s red zone efficiency.
The Beaver defense struggled at times when Portland State injected scrambling quarterback Paris Penn into the offense. Succumbing to mobile quarterbacks has become something of a chronic condition for Oregon State defenses in the past and Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey will have an opportunity to exploit that condition.
Woolsey ran the ball 13 times for 44 yards against The Huskies in week 1. Combined with 207 yards through the air, Woolsey is a proven dual-threat quarterback.
If Oregon State can successfully distribute the ball throughout their offense, both on the ground and through the air, Hawaii will have a tough time matching the Beavers depth. While establishing a consistently varied offensive presence, The Beavers must also work to contain rushing and passing threats from Hawaii’s quarterback and stable of running backs.
Score Prediction: Oregon State hits their stride in a 31-21 road win that is decided in the forth quarter.
Positional Prediction: The Beaver defense steps up to the plate and forces at least 2 turnovers in the game.