OSU v. Nicholls State: Position breakdown
This story originally published on BeaverFootball.com
Beaverfootball.com Correspondent
Posted Nov 26, 2012

THIS SATURDAY will mark the final game of the OSU 2012 regular season. The opponent? Nicholls State, the original season opener from back in September. The Colonels (FBS) are coming off a rough season that has thus far left them high and dry with a record of 1-9, 0-7. Do they stand a chance against an OSU team coming off a devastating loss to in state rival Oregon? This is the edge.

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Quarterback - Even with Sean Mannion (13 TD’s, 13 INT’s) in many a fan’s doghouse and Cody Vaz on the mend, OSU has the clear cut advantage here. Landry Klann of Nicholls State has tossed eight touchdowns and twelve interceptions – he has also been sacked an obscene number of times (the Colonel front five have let go 41 sacks this season). Mannion should see early success and will carry that momentum throughout the game.
Edge goes to OSU

Running Back - Nicholls State has some talent at the position this year and a bright spot on the horizon has been junior Marcus Washington, who has seen the bulk of the carries over senior Jesse Turner. Washington boasts just under 50 percent of the combined 1,237 yards and 12 TD’s split between the Colonel’s four primary running backs. Oregon State with the advantage though, based mostly on the brick house qualities that both Terron Ward and Storm Woods displayed this season. Combined, these two have the ability to power right through the Nicholls State defense and put on a touchdown clinic.
Edge goes to OSU

Tight End - Connor Hamlett and Colby Prince would hold the advantage based almost solely on size. Both Hamlett and Prince hold more than 20 pounds on Nicholls State tight end and redshirt sophomore Nick Scelfo, who stands at 6-4, 235. Add Hamlett’s long legs and agility in with Prince’s improved blocking skills, and you have a tough duo to beat. Scelfo will have a rough go of trying to navigate the beaver secondary, and will likely spend most of the game trying to keep Beaver blitzers out of the backfield.
Edge goes to OSU

Offensive Line - As is almost customary when it comes to the south and football, Nicholls State boasts some big boys on the offensive line. Keep an eye on Rafe Plaisance, who looks big on paper and on the field – he has opened up holes for Washington and Co. to navigate through, and Plaisance has decent speed. Nicholls State may hold the advantage on the line when it comes to sheer size, but not when it comes to raw physical talent and agility. Those two traits have set the Beaver O-line apart from many other Pac-12 teams this season, and they are sure to put a stopper on the Colonel pass rush.
Edge goes to OSU

Wide Receiver - Nicholls State’s top three receivers are two running backs and a tight end, and they have been unable to put up big numbers this year. By virtue of those stats, we will keep this one short and sweet – Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks. I’m done now.
Edge goes to OSU

Defensive Line - Lorenza Young and Darrel Brown lead the way for the Colonels D-line, and it has been a rough road this year. Combined, Young and Brown have put together 60 tackles, 7.5 TFL and a sack. Their partners in crime on the defensive line have not been able to carry the weight for Nicholls State, and it has forced Brown and Young to shoulder much of the run stopping burden, part of the reason why collectively, the Colonels have let go nearly 2,000 yards and 23 TD’s through ten games. One thing the Oregon State front four does really well is pick up the slack of their teammates – if an assignment is missed by Castro Masaniai, you will see Dylan Wynn scramble to get into better position. The toughest task for Beaver linemen in this bout will be compensating for the size of guys like Plaisance. The maneuverability of players like Scott Crichton and Wynn will be highly beneficial for OSU in this contest.
Edge goes to OSU

Linebackers - And speed will come in handy for OSU in the ‘backer squadron as well. One of the most impressive players for OSU in 2012 has been Michael Doctor. Doctor boasts 70 tackles, 10.5 TFL and an interception. He showed speed into the backfield on multiple occasions against Oregon, imagine what he is capable of against Nicholls State. He has two prime time complements alongside him in Feti Unga and D.J. Alexander. Linebacker is the position where Nicholls State is the most stacked in the depth chart, and they have some talent in the form of Rashar Knight and Jordan Piper (seniors both). But with the exception of the aforementioned, the front seven (specifically the LB’s) have had one heck of a time cleaning up other teams.
Edge goes to OSU

Secondary - In case you haven’t noticed the trend here, Oregon State outweighs Nicholls State in every category. This is to be expected. But when you compare them side-by-side, the Colonels have allowed 64 yards less than the Beavs have through the air. On the flipside, Nicholls State has let go 20 TD’s on passing plays compared to OSU’s 12. The Beaver secondary is also stacked with defensive backs who can hit… hard. Look for Rashaad Reynolds to have a huge game. Don’t be surprised if senior Jordan Poyer is ball-hawking all day long too – he will certainly be looking to pad his senior stats with a few more interceptions in his last regular season collegiate football game.
Edge goes to OSU

Coaching - Charlie Stubbs has done better than his record suggests with the minimal arsenal he inherited three years ago upon taking over as head coach for the Colonels. He currently owns a 5-17 record through three seasons – but don’t let the lame duck of a record fool you – Nicholls State is in the building stages, and Stubbs is large and in charge. He led a fantastic offense at the University of Central Missouri prior to taking over for the Colonels, and is looking for the right tools to build a brick house in the Southland Division. Mike Riley’s tenure at OSU is well documented, and no matter the criticism this guy receives, he stays head strong and manages to garner victories. Conceptually, Stubbs and Riley are very much akin in terms of how they want their offense run. The advantage here shifts over to OSU based on Riley’s supporting cast of characters. OSU has one of the most cohesive and seasoned coaching units in the Pac12.
Edge goes to OSU

Intangibles - Look, it’s pretty clear that given Nicholls State 1-9 record in a lesser division, they stand only a minuscule chance of taking down OSU. But let us not forget last season and the Sacramento State debacle. To Oregon State’s benefit, some of the Colonels’ more brutal losses have come on the road too, and they will be in Reser Stadium on Saturday. The football gods favor OSU by a long shot, but the football gods can be spiteful at the drop of a hat.
Edge goes to OSU

Final Thoughts - Big props to OSU for sticking with their commitment to this game, despite what the BCS implications may have been. A challenge is a challenge, and Nicholls State deserves a chance to show their moxie against the Beavs. I’m anticipating a closer than expected first quarter, as Nicholls State will want to throw everything at OSU early on to try and shift the momentum and catch Riley and Co. off guard. However, after the first quarter (maybe a few minutes into the second), OSU should start to pull away slowly but surely. The Nicholls State secondary does not match up against OSU primary weapons in Wheaton and Cooks, and I expect an aerial heyday shortly after the Beavs find a groove.
Edge goes to OSU

Final Score – OSU 42, Nicholls State 10.

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