Earlier this week we had the chance to talk to John Severs from the Oregon State community Building the Dam regarding this week’s matchup with the Huskies.
Here’s what we learned in our Q&A:
UWDP: Sophomore QB Chance Nolan has been fantastic in the early going with a 72% completion percentage and nine touchdowns. Did you see this coming? What are his strengths? Where does he need to get better?
John Severs: There were some hints that Nolan could be something special. He got a few starts last season after Tristan Gebbia went down and performed well, but the battle for the starting job this season was expected to be between Gebbia and Colorado transfer Sam Noyer. After Noyer struggled against Purdue, Nolan took the reigns and its hard to believe the Beavers will change course at this point. Nolan has a lot of power and precision in his arm and has been consistent at delivering big plays this season. If I have a concern, it’s that he’s still untested against top defenses, and I worry that when he has less time in the pocket or his receivers struggle to create gaps, he may start making mistakes. Against USC, he picked up his first two interceptions of the season, and on both it looked like he was trying to force something that wasn’t there.
UWDP: How would you asses the offensive line play in both protection of Nolan and the running game? UW fans are familiar with BJ Baylor. Is he the primary ball carrier? Who else do the Beavers have in the backfield?
John: The offensive line play has been amazing. The Beavers have a veteran group with great chemistry, and they’ve done an excellent job keeping Nolan upright and generating room for BJ Baylor to run. Baylor is the primary running back, the Oregon State has a few options. Deshaun Fenwick is one name to watch; he transferred from South Carolina last winter and has started to get more involved in the offense the last few games. The team also likes to use former quarterback and current linebacker Jack Colletto as a goal line option; he picked up two touchdowns against USC last week.
UWDP: WRs Trevon Bradford and Tyjon Lindsey have been Nolan’s primary targets. Do you see anyone else emerging as a go-to receiver?
John: Other than those two I would keep an eye on the tight ends. Teagan Quitoriano has been a great safety valve for Nolan and has picked up two touchdowns this season, and Luke Musgrave was picked by many to have a breakout season this year. He hasn’t really exploded yet, but the talent is there.
UWDP: Oregon State has surrendered over 300 yards through the air in their three of four games in 2021. Has the pass defense failed the eye-test as well? How has the defense performed overall? Who are some players on defense that Husky fans should know about?
John: The secondary is the biggest area of concern on the team. While it didn’t hurt them against Hawaii or Idaho, USC definitely started to find effective ways to attack the Beavers’ passing defense as the game went on. Oregon State was saved by a few clutch turnovers, but I definitely feel like once there is more film on the team and opposing offenses can plan better that the Beavers could be in trouble. There’s still some talent there, Rejzohn Wright is very good, and Alton Julian seems to be emerging as a skilled corner, but there are big gaps in coverage.
UWDP: Is Jonathan Smith winning over the Beaver fanbase?
John: I think Oregon State as a fanbase is patient enough that barring a Gary Andersen level meltdown, they’ll give a coach enough time and support to succeed. Smith has definitely delivered some big wins for the program, lilke last season against the Ducks and USC last week and seems to be on track to make his first bowl game this year. There are concerns. The Beavers of the last few years have been plagued by what ifs. For instance, if the team had started Nolan game 1, they could potentially be 4-0 right now with a non-conference road win on their resume. Smith is great at adjusting when something isn’t working, but I’d feel better if he didn’t have to make so many adjustments in the first place.
UWDP: What is your prediction for Saturday?
John: I think Oregon State’s streak of games with 40+ points will come to an end, but I still feel good about the team at home and with momentum from the USC win. I think Washington will get plenty of offense in, but I’ll say the Beavers come out on top 35-27.
Thanks, John. For more on the Beavers, be sure to check out Building the Dam.