Week 4 Positional Matchup: SDSU Backfield vs. Beaver Linebackers

Michael Doctor (40) and The Beaver linebackers will be charged with stopping a multi-dimensional San Diego State offense. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs, fresh off a tough loss on the road to #21 North Carolina, will look to flip their luck on the road at Reser Stadium in a week 4 showdown with the the Oregon State Beavers. The key to stopping one of the most underrated programs on the west coast; The Beaver linebackers.

Trailing for less than 10 minutes of game time in week 3, San Diego State proved themselves a dangerous team once again. Not that Oregon State needed any reminders.

Oregon State was just minutes away from dropping a game to the Aztecs in week 4 of the 2013 season at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. Trailing 27-14 at the end of the third quarter, Sean Mannion‘s two forth quarter touchdowns and a late pick six by Steven Nelson sealed the Beavers 34-30 comeback victory in a game many thought Oregon State would roll through worry-free.

The Beavers must come out on all cylinders. Though 2-0 through the first two contests of the season, Oregon State hasn’t exactly wooed anyone with a Top 25 vote. Two stumbling wins over Portland State and Hawai’i won’t impress the pollsters, let alone a scrappy San Diego State team with a chip on its shoulder from last year’s heated contest.

Critical to the Beavers success will be the revamped running game. Oregon State managed only 10 yards on the ground against the Aztecs in 2013. Despite the lackluster victories in weeks 1 and 2, the Beavers running game has clearly improved and should be able to pass 2013’s rushing mark on the first drive.

2014 is a new year, and as such, a new positional group will be cast into this week’s positional matchup breakdown. The Beaver linebackers, lead by Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander, will be the most important squad on the field.

San Diego State sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey has rushed for consecutive 100-yard games against Northern Arizona and #21 North Carolina to start off his 2014 campaign. The Las Vegas, Nev. native has shown explosive speed and shiftiness in between the tackles and on the outside. Pumphrey is a constant home-run threat in the running game.

Behind Pumphrey, Junior Chase Price provides a physical change of pace dimension to the Aztec backfield. And much like his counterpart, Price has the ability to run up the gut or outside the hash marks.

The Beaver linebackers will assume the task of stopping the dynamic Aztec-duo.

Oregon State ranks second in the conference in rushing defense. It should be noted that the strength of The Beaver’s previous two opponents has something to do with that, but its a sign that Oregon State has the potential to stifle a talented team like San Diego State.

Starters Michael Doctor, D.J. Alexander, and Jabral Johnson are the most experienced group of linebackers in the conference. With forth man Rommel Mageo mixing into the group, The Beaver linebackers have plenty of depth and talent to go around.

San Diego State is a different class then the last two Beaver-opponents of 2014. However, if the Beaver linebackers, and defense as a whole, can contain the rushing attack, the Aztecs will be forced to rely on a turnover-prone quarterback to move the ball down the field.