Utah defended its home territory by absolutely pummeling the Oregon defense with its run success, racking up 208 yards on the ground against the Ducks. Well, what if I told you that within the Oregon State rushing offense lies a threat that is just as productive as Utah's, if not better?
The Ducks are going to have their hands full with B.J. Baylor and the rest of the Beavers rushing attack.
Baylor has been tearing through Pac-12 defenses all season long. The two-time Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week is looking to leave his mark on this year’s rivalry bout between the Ducks and the Beavers.
Just this season alone, Baylor has accounted for 1,200 yards on the ground off of 196 carries. He's averaging 6.1 yards per carry and has added 12 rushing touchdowns to the Beavers' offense this season. In his most recent outing against Arizona State, he turned 20 carries into 150 yards, good for 7.5 yards per carry.
“He’s an excellent back,” Defensive Coordinator Tim DeRuyter said of Baylor this week. “He’s powerful, breaks tackles and he’s got the speed to take off the top.”
While the Ducks have the third-best rush defense in the conference at 127.9 rushing yards per game, the Utes exposed a way to get through. They’ve laid out a blueprint for the Beavers to follow, and it’s up to Oregon’s defensive staff to figure out a way to stop Baylor and the rest of the OSU offense.
“They’re going to run a lot of stretch zone scheme,” DeRuyter said on Monday. “I think their offensive front does a really nice job of staying with their blocks. They are really effective in what they do… We’ve got to do a great job of setting firm edges, better than we did last week.”
While Baylor throws the most punches for the Beavs, their whole stable of running backs has been able to impose their will on other teams. It’s one reason why OSU has the most rushing yards per game in the entire conference.
Behind Baylor is Deshaun Fenwick and Trey Lowe. Both of these backs have also proven to be effective against defenses and both of them have combined for over 700 yards of rushing offense.
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Fenwick has 78 attempts for 448 yards and four touchdowns and Lowe has 47 attempts for 310 yards and a single touchdown. If you're successful in taking Baylor out of the game, you just as easily could find yourself in trouble with one of these guys. Fenwick's status for Saturday's game is questionable/doubtful, so Lowe could see an increase in touches.
In addition to the running backs, you also have Jack Colletto, who is a quarterback-turned-linebacker who's recently had great success as a wildcat running back. The Beavers have looked for any way they can include him, and they found it this past week.
In a crucial fourth-and-2 against Arizona State, the Beavers opted to go for it, but they didn’t send out their normal quarterback Chance Nolan. Instead they put their faith in the versatile Colletto, and he honored that decision by taking the ball and not only getting the first down, but taking off for a 47-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach for the Sun Devils.
All of these weapons mean that the Ducks will need to shake off the game against Utah quickly if they want to beat the Beavers. If they don’t, the OSU running backs will pick up where Utah left off.
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