The Oregon State defense: Legit or smoke and mirrors?

The Brigham Young Cougars have a really good defense. I am sure of this. Ask Oregon State fans, and they think the Beaver defense is just as good. That piqued my interest, so I took a look at the numbers. After considerable analysis, I can’t decide whether the numbers are legit or just smoke and mirrors.

First of all, there are only six statistical categories that Oregon State's defense caught my eye. After I took a closer look at these categories, I was still impressed by only two. Whereas, for the BYU defense, there are at least eight statistical categories that I find impressive no matter how the numbers are twisted. Maybe that just means I am too BYU biased, maybe not.

The six categories that I found impressive on the surface were as follows:
  • Scoring Defense: 17.0 ppg (National Rank: 23)
  • Rushing Defense: 67.25 ypg (4)
  • Sacks: 2.5 per game (33)
  • Interceptions: 1.75 per game (12)
  • Passes defensed: 6.5 per game (12)
  • Opponents 3rd down conversions: 20.41% (1)

Obviously, anytime a team is the best in the nation, that is impressive, so the 20.41% opponents 3rd down conversions is impressive. I also find it impressive anytime a defense is allowing less than 20 points per game, regardless of the national ranking.

The sacks, interceptions, and passes defensed lost their luster when I realized that, in four games, Oregon State’s opponents have attempted 170 passes. That is an average of 43 pass attempts per game. It should be expected that Oregon State would be among the nation’s leaders in these categories with its opponents preferring to pass.

Two of the four opponents were quite successful throwing the ball. UCLA’s starting quarterback had 372 yards passing. Arizona threw for over 400 yards against the Beavers.

It is hard not to be impressed by Oregon State’s rushing defense, but I have reservations about how good they actually are. Oregon State did hold Wisconsin to 35 yards on 23 carries. While I will give the Beavers some credit for this game, it is interesting to note the Badgers are just 91 in rushing offense. Wisconsin struggled to beat Utah State and UTEP. This isn’t your same old Wisconsin offense.  

It is also hard not to think that the rushing defense isn’t a little inflated due to all the passing Oregon State’s opponents have done. It is well known that Oregon State’s most recent opponent, Washington State, isn’t interested in running the ball. UCLA is ranked 22nd nationally in rushing offense, but they fell behind Oregon State 24-10 in the third quarter. That kind of forced the Bruins to throw the ball, and with the success they had passing it wasn’t a priority to run the ball well that game.

Arizona, who is just 44th nationally rushing the ball, did run the ball well. The Wildcats had 142 yards rushing on just 23 carries (6.2 yard average).

Legit? Smoke and mirrors? I still can’t decide, but I know what really matters. Unless the BYU offense can exploit the weaknesses that do exist on the Oregon State defense, then it won’t make any difference.

The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. Really? You arent sure about a defense that has played legit teams? If you want to look at stats begin by looking at the strength of each team played. Most JC teams could beat up on Weber St and come out with inflated stats.

    1. BYU has played 2 Pac 12 teams. Are they legit?

      Boise State is ranked in the top 25, and tried to run the ball 40 times. None of Oregon State's opponents have attempted more than 28 rushes.

      Utah State went to Wisconsin and should have won that game. They scored more points than the Beavers did against the Badgers.

      Don't worry, Weber State didn't inflate BYU's defensive stats. Throw that game out and BYU improves in almost every category.

      Well, I was trying to be nice, and left this out, but being 112th in pass defense doesn't sound legit, and allowing 355.8 yards per game doesn't scream "outstanding defense."

      So, no I am not sure.


Post a Comment