Assuming Nicholls St. an FCS team from Thibodaux, Louisiana, and the Southland Conference, aren't unavoidably detained in the aftermath of hurricane Isaac, the obvious question for Beaver Nation is what to expect from the Colonels on Saturday. After all, there's no history between the teams, and given that there are 5 FBS teams in the same state, which geographically is not as large as Oregon, as well as several FCS teams of greater note, the average Oregon St. fan isn't likely to have much idea about them.
Nicholls St. is a team that's not been very good, they are also a team in transition. After going 4-7 in coach Charlie Stubbs' first season, last year the Colonels came apart, losing their last 10 games, after a season opening 42-0 win against Evangel University, an NAIA team.
As a result, Stubbs has moved three year starting quarterback LaQuintin Caston to wide receiver, opting to go with junior Landry Klann, in order to expedite the transition from a triple option attack to more of a balanced offense. Nicholls St. has to replace their best wide receiver from last year, and appears to plan to use a variety of players to do so.
Sophomore Demon Bolt led the Colonels in touchdown catches last year with 3! Brad Nelson had the most yards of those receivers returning, with 117 yards on 9 catches. These numbers aren't an indication that these players were buried on the bench, last year's leading receiver, Keynard Blair, had a team high 26 catches for a team high 270 yards, including a season long reception of 47 yards. These guys had NO PASSING offense.
The Manning Elite passing camp is conducted on the Colonels' Thibodaux campus, but Nicholls St. hasn't been able to waylay any of that quarterback talent for their personal use.
The Colonels want to move to the increasingly popular read-option style of offense, and a passing version, not the run first variety associated with, for example Rich Rodriguez, who will bring that slant on the situation to Arizona. At the same time, they will use elements of the "Pistol" offense, in an effort to capitalize on available athleticism in the back field.
Caston led the team in rushing, with 707 yards on 179 carries in 10 games. The top returning running back is junior Marcus Washington, who gained 565 yards on 125 carries.
Nicholls St. might look something like Nevada, at least in terms of style and system, for those who may well be more familiar with the Wolfpack.
For those wondering what the connection is that led to this game, Stubbs was an assistant coach at Oregon St. from 1985 through 1990, when Dave Kragthorpe was the head coach.
Defensively, the Colonels are a 3-4 team, with senior Rashar Knight playing what they call the "DOG" position, an edge rush outside linebacker who comes from the vicinity of where you would expect a defensive end to line up at.
Last year, Nicholls St. allowed an average of 34.5 points per game, while scoring an average of 18. This against a schedule that had only 2 FBS opponents (Texas St. was still officially "in transition"). Only once after their opening win did they allow less than 31 points, and only three times besides Evangel did they score more than 17 points.
This is a game Oregon St. should not only win, they should easily dominate, with a look at some decidedly different looks than they see when practicing against themselves the only redeeming factor from this scheduling oddity.