The Beavers hope to capitalize on last weeks thrilling 47-44 overtime victory over Cal. During the game, the Beavers took a huge leap forward in their growth and development and improved in many key areas, especially in the run game. The Offense was able to find its identity by becoming a run first team that uses a variety of runners, led by the big bruiser, Ryan Nall. Darrell Garretson proved last week against Cal he is a running threat out of the backfield. In addition, the Offensive Line, which had previously been a liability for the Beavs for a variety of reasons on and off the field, responded with an amazing performance vs Cal. Although the Beavers played arguably their best game under the Coach Gary Andersen Era, there is room for improvement. Here are some areas of improvement the Beavers should focus on as they prepare for the 21st ranked Utah Utes.
The Beavers Need to Stop the Run
After the Cal game, it’s likely that many teams will run the ball frequently against the Beavers until they can prove they can stop the run. Defensive Coordinator Kevin Clune, took some of the blame for the Cal’s 317 yards on the ground led by 165 rushing yards by RB Khalfani Muhammad. Clune discussed earlier this week the game plan focused more on stopping the pass rather than the run. However, the Beavs do need to improve on shedding opposing blockers. In addition, the Beavs need to improve on tackling. Credit the Beavs for stopping Cal’s two running plays in Overtime. Utah has a solid running game averaging 4.1 yards a carry. The Utes will try to grind out the clock by running the ball quite frequently. The Beaver Defense needs to be ready to defend against some smash mouth football. Also, Utah QB Troy Williams is a very capable runner. The Beavs need to contain him.
The Offense Needs to Get the Passing Game Going
The Offense greatly benefited from 476 rushing yards last week, led by 221 rushing yards by Ryan Nall. It was such a great outing for the Beaver running game that the Beavers didn’t need to win the game in the air. 85 yards passing was all the Beavs needed from Garretson, yet all 85 yards were very important. Future Beaver opponents are likely to stack the box and force the Beavs to beat them by passing the ball. The Beavs need to make opponents pay for stacking the box. The deep ball and a mid range passing game would help the Beavs out tremendously. However, the Beavs had some success with quick, short passing completions. Any success in the passing game will help to keep opposing defenses honest. WR Victor Bolden is playing better the last couple games. Seth Collins continues to flourish as a receiver. Timmy Hernandez is emerging as a solid receiver, and he is getting more reps at the X receiver position than Jordan Villamin. Will Jordan Villamin be able to play up to his potential this year? Villamin has the size and speed to be a star in this league. Can the Beavers take a step forward against a physical Utah Defense?
Can the Beavers Keep the Momentum Up? Are the Beavers Ready for a Dog Fight
The Beavers took a major step forward last Saturday. How will they follow up this week vs Utah? Coach Andersen praised his team’s effort and focus after the blowout loss to Colorado. The Beavers responded strongly last Saturday. The Beavers had, arguably, their best performance of the season against Cal. The hard work and dedication of this young team paid off in the win. The team’s increased confidence was evident last Saturday. The next step for the Beavers is to use last weeks game as motivation for the Utah game. It is important for this young team to be able to handle success maturely. Will the Beavs build on their new found momentum? Or, will they revert back to their old ways?
Utah provides a very different challenge then Cal did last week. Under Head Coach Kyle Whittingham, Utah has been known for their physical play along the lines. Saturday’s weather forecast in Corvallis is heavy rainfall with winds between 25-40 mph. Last weeks game was a shootout, and this weeks game is likely going to be very different. Fans should expect very limited passing, and a physical smash-mouth football game with low scoring. These two Coaching Staffs are very familiar with each other. Are the Beavers ready to face a nationally ranked Utah team on their home turf?