Oct 12, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars cornerback Charleston White (16) intercepts a pass intended for Washington State Cougars wide receiver River Cracraft (84) during the second half at Martin Stadium. The Beavers beat the Cougars 52-24. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

USC vs. Oregon State: Previewing the Beaver Defense


Sep 21, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego State Aztecs quarterback Quinn Kaehler (18) is sacked by Oregon State Beavers linebacker D.J. Alexander (4) during the second half at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon State offense is a power in the Pac-12 and the nation. Unfortunately for the Beavers, the same cannot be said of their defense. That, however, doesn’t mean that the defense is anything to scoff at. Ranked 65th in scoring defense, 85th in passing yards allowed, 47th in total defense and 32nd in rushing defense, the Beavers sit right about the middle of both the nation and conference in the major defensive statistics. The one exception to that rule is in turnovers. Oregon State is seventh in the nation in turnovers gained.

Defensive end Scott Crichton leads the line for the Beavers. The junior was named to the Pac-12 First Team defense last season and his 3.5 sacks this season are best on the team. Another standout on the defensive line, Dylan Wynn has 34 tackles this season, best among d-linemen in addition to four tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. John Braun and Mana Rosa, two seniors with limited starting experience, fill the middle of the line.

Oregon State’s linebacking corp is comparatively thin. D.J. Alexander suffered a stinger against Stanford and his status is still in doubt for the game this Friday. He has the most experience among the linebackers and boast two sacks on the season. The other outside linebacker Jabral Johnson began the season covering for Alexander who missed the first two games with a knee injury, with Alexander out he is now covering for the injured Michael Doctor and leads the unit in tackles with 55.

In the opportunistic secondary, the Beavers have found a star in recent transfer Steven Nelson, whose five interceptions tie him for first in the nation despite only recently winning over the starting position at cornerback. Also at corner, Rashaad Reynolds co-captains the team and has four interceptions of his own. The strong safety, Tyrequek Zimmerman leads Beavers in tackles while free safety Ryan Murphy adds two interceptions to the Oregon State tally which has them sixth in the country and first in the Pac-12.

The Beavers may not have the most daunting defense on paper, but they have come a long way this season since giving up 625 total yards to Eastern Washington in an embarrassing opening day loss. They’ve held the last five teams they’ve played under their average output. More importantly, with a defense that takes every opportunity to steal the ball away, Mike Riley’s Beavers are 47-10 when they win the turnover battle.

Projected Starting Line Up:

LE #95 Scott Crichton
LT #93 Mana Rosa
RT #97 John Braun
RE #45 Dylan Wynn
OLB #4 D.J. Alexander
MLB 46 Rommel Mageo
OLB #44 Jabral Johnson
CB #2 Steven Nelson
SS #8 Tyrequek Zimmerman
FS #25 Ryan Murphy
CB #16 Rashaad Reynolds

Check out our preview of the Beaver offense.

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Tags: Oregon State Beavers USC Trojans