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Opponent Offense Preview: Oregon State Beavers

Husky fans favorite offensive coordinator has the Beaver’s offense humming in year two.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at Arizona Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats

Points per game: 33.6

Yards per play: 5.6

Yards per rush: 5.0

QB sack percentage: 6%

Red Zone scoring attempts per game: 3.4

Third downs per game: 14.3

Third down conversion %: 49% (#9 in the country)

Offensive Philosophy

Balanced and multiple. Where have we heard that before? Despite his polarizing tenure as Washington’s OC, second year Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith has shown undoubted improvement in his Beaver team. Not just offensively, but in general. They are currently 59th in SP+ after being 111th at the end of last season. The offense this year skyrocketed up to #22 in SP+, lead by a nearly 50/50 run pass ratio. As you might imagine, it will remind you a lot of what we saw when Smith was calling plays for the Huskies not so long ago. It’s a similar scheme in that they have just a handful of plays but run them out of multiple formations which are always changing with pre-snap motion to create numbers advantages.

NCAA Football: Stanford at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

This means they run the ball out of the pistol sometimes, or the I-formation, or single back, or any of the other myriad of ways to hand the ball off. When passing, it’s all about Isaiah Hodgins - QB Jake Luton will look for him everywhere, especially third downs. TE Noah Togiai gets lots of short and intermediate looks, while the 5-5 Champ Flemmings is your classic “gadget” receiver. Flemmings actually leads the team in yards per catch with 15 (for players with 3+ receptions.)

They are very strong in the red zone as well, scoring on 90% of possessions. Most impressively, is the almost even split of 13 rushing touchdowns and 12 passing while in the red zone. Balance! The offensive line has been a nice surprise this year as well, with LT Blake Brandel and LG Gus Lavaka combining for a formidable left side.

Key Players

QB Jake Luton: 1,930 yards, 19 TD/1 INT, 7.6 yards per attempt, 60% completion

The 6-7 Luton from Marysville has finally been healthy and able to deliver on the promise he’s shown in the past. He’s a pure pocket passer that doesn’t offer much mobility but does an excellent job running the system. He isn’t throwing up any truly gaudy statistics (though that 19:1 ratio is looking pretty good) but he is avoiding mistakes and is distributing the ball to the Beaver’s playmakers.

WR Isaiah Hodgins: 63 receptions, 895 yards, 12 TDs

Hodgins is having a standout season with four 100 yard games already under his belt. He’s got great size at 6-4 and catches everything thrown his way, with that huge catch radius. He’s a bit of a long strider with his speed but once he gets going can beat unassuming defensive backs deep. He’s undoubtedly one of the best receivers in the conference and has been an invaluable weapon in the red zone for the Beavers.

RB Jermar Jefferson: 78 rushes, 401 yards, 4 TDs

Jefferson has been off-and-on injured this year but the former freshman sensation is finally healthy and will combine with the slippery Artavis Pierce to form a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield. This will be one of the few games this season both are healthy for. Jefferson is a strong runner with a thick frame measuring at 5-10 and 214 pounds. He’s got good vision in the hole, combined with balance, power, and speed. Like all the great runners, he’s got the right amount of patience in the hole, and then explodes into the open field. In his return to action last week against Arizona, Jefferson punched it into the end zone 3 times.

TE Noah Togiai: 26 catches, 226 yards, 1 TD

It seems like Togiai has been at Oregon State forever, and that’s probably because the senior has been so consistent over his career. He’s a really well balanced TE who never seems to leave the field and is a guy Luton constantly looks to. He’s finished with at least 2 receptions in every game this season, and 9 in his last two, both Oregon State wins. He only averages 8.8 yards per catch but that is mostly due to being targeted short so often - he’s a very steady and reliable option over the middle.

X-Factor

Third downs. Oregon State is pretty bang-average in terms of the number of 3rd downs they face per game at 14, but are top-10 in converting them. The best way to describe Washington’s defensive performance this season would be to say they are poor in situations. As in, crucial third downs in big moments. Oregon State has the play makers in the backfield and outside between Hodgins, Togiai, Jefferson, Pierce, and Flemmings to make the Huskies pay. The Beavers almost never the turn ball over either - .1 turnovers per game, tops in the country - so for the Husky defense to get off the field, they will need to win 3rd downs and force punts.

Conclusion

Oregon State no doubt has a legit, good offense. In six of eight games this year they’ve scored at least 28 points and are actually averaging more on the road (38 points) than at home. They just rolled up 572 yards and 56 points on Arizona and scored more against Cal than the Huskies did. However, they definitely had their share of struggles agains the Bears, though Cal plays pretty good defense so that’s no surprise. Despite not turning the ball over, they only generated 281 yards of offense with both the pass and run held down. But, it was the 5 sacks from Cal that really derailed the offense. They also continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties.

In short, this offense doesn’t beat itself too often and can methodically move up and down the field with a blend of the run and pass to keep defenses off balance. They aren’t super explosive at just 5.6 yards per play but are plenty efficient with a top-25 SP+ unit. Jonathan Smith and OC Brian Lindgren develop imaginative ways to get playmakers the ball but that will go off the rails quickly if Luton is pressured. Oregon State has enough of a run game that it should scare the Huskies, and they will surely lean on it.

Poll

How many points will Oregon State score on Friday night?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    0-7
    (1 vote)
  • 2%
    8-14
    (3 votes)
  • 18%
    15-21
    (22 votes)
  • 53%
    22-28
    (63 votes)
  • 17%
    29-35
    (21 votes)
  • 6%
    35 or more
    (8 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now