Week 5 Positional Breakdown: Beaver Defensive Line



Obum Gwacham

and the Beaver defensive line will have their hands full against a Colorado squad that massed over 600 yards of total offense and 7 touchdowns in last week’s 2OT loss to Cal. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As the tide of the Pacific Ocean swelled and receded just minutes away from the LA Coliseum Saturday night, so to has the optimism regarding The Oregon State Beavers 3-0 non-conference start to the 2014 season. A night riddled with frustrating penalties and poor defensive execution has now bloomed into a week of doubt, uncertainty, and discontent among Beaver fans who just weeks ago were optimistically entertaining the thought of a Top-25 team in Reser Stadium.

But all of that was before The Beavers were reminded that nothing comes easy in the Pac-12. While little doubt could be thrown at the idea that USC was a better, deeper team at almost every position on the field, memories of Pete Carroll and the Trojans wearily jogging off the field amidst the exuberant masses of Beaver Nation storming the field in the ecstasy of another unbelievable upset.

The Saturday night drubbing handed down by USC took another toll against Oregon State. The Beaver defensive line lost Junior Jalen Grimble for 3-4 weeks after going under the knife Monday for a bad knee and Sophomore Noke Tago for the rest of 2014, also suffering a knee injury in the USC game.

Tago, a reserve defensive tackle, is a sustainable injury. However, any knock to the depth of the defense is a negative.

The loss of Jalen Grimble will have a much more immediate impact on the effectiveness of Oregon State’s defensive line; a group that will be critical to halting Colorado’s fast-paced offense. The Buffs currently lead the conference in plays per game at 89.

Senior Bud Delva has lead the team from the middle of the line thus far with two sacks, three tackles for loss, and 12 total tackles in the 2014 campaign. Delva and fellow Senior Siale Hautau will likely be asked to shoulder most of the load in terms of total snaps played.

Given Colorado’s breakneck pace of play, it will certainly be necessary for Oregon State to make consistent substitutions on the defensive line. Fresh legs will be key to applying pressure on Buff’s quarterback Sefo Liufau, a fast, physical dual-threat who could wreak havoc on Oregon State the way running quarterbacks from both Portland State and Hawai’i did in previous contests.

With a group of relatively untested defensive tackles to back up Delva and Hautau, Oregon State will also have to lean on the play of defensive ends Obum Gwacham and Dylan Wynn to both contain running plays and to create chaotic disturbance in the rhythm of Colorado’s passing offense.

While Oregon State seemed very out-paced by a stout and confident USC squad, it’s also important to note that the inflated numbers of Colorado’s offense are due to their strength of schedule to this point (or lack their of). While 680 yards of total offense is very impressive for any level of competition, Cal is a far cry from a legitimate contender in the conference this year (The Golden Bears rank last in the Pac-12 in both scoring and total defense this year).

Should Oregon State manage to exhibit a strong showing from what is fast becoming a patch work defense, The Beavers could rebound to make quick work of what should be a very winnable conference matchup.