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Opponent Q&A: Talking OSU Beavers Football

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The Beavers are in year three of the Gary Anderson rebuild. Joe Londergan from our rival SBN site ‘Building the Dam’ fills us in on the progress.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-LSU vs Oregon State Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week I talked with Joe Londergan (@joehio_), writer for the SBN blog Building the Dam regarding the Oregon State football team. Here's what we learned in our Q&A:

UWDP: Quarterback Darrell Garretson takes over at QB with the Jake Luton suffering a spine injury. First off, how is Luton doing? That sounds like a scary injury. As for the senior Garretson, what are his strengths? Shortcomings? Tell us about the pass protection so far.

Joe Londergan: Thankfully, Jake Luton seems to be better than expected considering he suffered a thoracic spine fracture. He's up and walking around, out of the hospital, and with the team in Corvallis. His injury status is officially listed as week to week. From what I understand those injuries take a pretty significant amount of time to fully heal, so we may see him back towards the very end of the year. But for his sake, I hope they don't rush him back because he still has another year of eligibility after this year.

As far as Garretson goes, he's a better runner. The best example of that is the 2016 Cal game where he ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns in that 47-44 win. His passing hasn't been overly great in his time in college, but in his defense he's had to deal with a few different injuries even dating back to his days at Utah State prior to OSU. As a passer, he's 292 of 492 with 3223 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. Look for the Beavs to maybe run a little more read option like they did last year with Garretson at the helm.

In terms of the pass protection, they're okay but need to get better. They've given up seven sacks this year, which is fifth in the league right now. There's a bit of a drop off from last year after losing three starters to the NFL and in retrospect that probably should have been expected from the fans more than it maybe has.

UWDP: After averaging over 600 yards and 5 TDs in his first two years, senior wide receiver Jordan Villamin was virtually invisible last season. The 6’5” 220 pounder has 16 catches for 187 yards in four games this year. Is he back to playing to his potential? How has the rest of the receiving corps looked in 2017?

Joe: We're all pretty happy with Villamin's return to form in this first part of the season. That being said, I think this season ends up somewhere near his freshman year's statistical output. I don't think he'll surpass his sophomore campaign because the offense is likely to shift away from a passing emphasis with Jake Luton being done for the foreseeable future. Junior tight end Noah Togiai is also a big piece of the passing offense with 14 catches for 180 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Isaiah Hodgins actually leads the team in receptions with 17, which has earned him 156 yards and a touchdown.

UWDP: Tell us about the OSU running game. How has the offensive line performed? Last year the Huskies dodged a bullet with Ryan Nall unavailable due to injury. Is the “Wrecking Nall” at full strength? Any other running backs UW fans should be aware of?

Joe: Nall's had a solid year so far with 323 yards on 53 carries and 4 touchdowns. He came on strong at the end of last year and has continued to be a key piece for OSU. He broke off a 75 yard touchdown run against Colorado State, which was probably his biggest highlight of 2017. He's also coming off a big game against Wazzu where he had 118 yards on the ground. Artavis Pierce also shares some of the load. Plus, while he hasn't played much so far due to injury, former Oregon standout Thomas Tyner came to OSU in the off season. So look for him to get some quality touches when he's healthy, which very well may be this week. Total, the offensive line has put up 541 yards (9th in the league) and 7 touchdowns. The o-line has been okay, but there's definite room for improvement which will come with experience.

UWDP: How would you rate the special teams and the OSU kicking game? Any particularly dangerous return men?

Joe: Jordan Choukair is the Beavs' kicker for all situations this year and he's pretty competent. He's been perfect on 13 extra point attempts, but 2 of 4 on field goal attempts. The kick coverage as a whole has been good actually. They're only giving up 19.8 yards per return on kickoffs and 2.8 yards per return on punts and no TDs on either account. They've only returned 1 punt so far, which should tell you something about where the defense is.

Artavis Pierce and Calvin Tyler are the primary return guys and they've been fairly decent. Pierce had a pretty nice 43 yard return against Portland State that set up the offense to score a touchdown.

UWDP: How has the defense progressed this season? Is it as bad as the 47.5 ppg allowed would suggest? Who are some defensive players to watch for Oregon State?

Joe: The defense has ebbed and flowed. But game to game, when they improve in one area, they get worse in another. The passing defense has been particularly disappointing mostly because of the experience in that defensive back position group. In week 1 against Colorado State, they gave up 334 passing yards, then 224 against Portland State, 158 against Minnesota, and then 431 against Wazzu. They've averaging more than 6 yards per play, which if you're an opposing offense you're more than happy to take that every week.

Safety David Morris, who's a freshman, is the leading tackler with 32 so far. Anytime a safety is your leading tackler, that's not particularly good. But considering his youth, he's played well and he'll be one to keep an eye on for the future. Also, linebacker Manase Hungalu has proven to be very important to the OSU defense with 29 tackles, 2 for a loss and an interception that he returned for a touchdown.

UWDP: It’s year three for Gary Anderson. How are Oregon State fans feeling about the progress so far? What are realistic expectations for the rest of 2017?

Joe: Folks are disappointed for sure. They don't exactly have pitchforks drawn yet, though. Part of that I think comes with the Civil War win and just finishing last year strong despite ending up 4-8. Plenty of OSU fans who have been around for a while also remember how long the school has given coaches to try and get it together. Dave Kragthorpe was the head coach in Corvallis for six years in the eighties and never won more than four games a year, which he only did twice. Jerry Pettibone replaced him in 1990 and only won 13 games in six years. My point is that the years prior to Dennis Erickson and then Mike Riley seem to have made OSU fans a remarkably patient bunch.

At this point, after the out of conference portion of the season only resulted in one win (and an ugly one at that against an FCS team), I think people are just hoping that OSU gets back to 4-8. Personally, I think OSU can beat Arizona and Arizona State, but I don't see them winning much else against the rest of their Pac-12 schedule.

UWDP: What is your prediction for this game?

Joe: UW wins and it probably won't be pretty. Oregon State has one of the worst pass defenses in the Pac-12 right now. Jake Browning is Jake Browning. Those two things alone tell a story that I don't see ending well for the Beavs in their current state. My final score prediction is UW wins 42-14.

Thanks Joe. Good luck to the Beavs on their rebuild. Check out more from the OSU perspective at Building the Dam.

To read my answers to Joe’s questions, Click Here.