Our good friends at our sister site Rule of Tree, stopped by to answer some questions in preparation for the game against Stanford this weekend.
Q: It's no secret that Stanford's offense has struggled to move the ball this season. After putting up just 5 points against Colorado Head Coach David Shaw decided to bench Ryan Burns in favor of Keller Chryst. In your opinion, who shoulders the bulk of the blame? Quarterback play? Offensive-line? Receivers?
A: While Burns struggled the most notably of those three groups, you do not get ranked 128th in total offense because of one position. Burns was more conservative than he ever should have been, the offensive line only shows up for about 30 minutes of a game and the wide receivers cannot buy separation. The play calling is also to blame as they have repeatedly tried to get cute when calling a game when they have one of the best players in college in their backfield but fail to use him consistently. There is plenty of blame to go around.
Q: Christian McCaffrey is a household name but expectations were impossibly high after his record-breaking sophomore season. How have fans perceived his performance this year? Are they disappointed he's no longer the front-runner for the heisman or do they blame factors outside his control?
A: When expectations are as crazy as the ones people had for McCaffrey, there is bound to be some disappointment. However, fans who have watch the Cardinal over the years see that the biggest change is this teams lack of dominance in the trenches on both sides of the ball and that is the biggest impact on the whole team.
Q: Stanford had lofty goals headed into this season, but with three conference losses already they have fallen short of expectations.How does this team stay motivated despite being out of the college football playoff and probably the Pac-12 championship race?
A: In this situation I believe the coaching staff turns to leaders and studs like Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey to step up and help motivate this team. It has been a long year but they can still hang their hats on ending strong and getting some wins for a proud program. It all starts with leaders in the locker room getting this teams head in the right spot.
Q: Besides the ever dangerous McCaffrey who are some players Oregon State fans should watch out for on offense and defense?
A: One of my favorite players to watch on this roster is cornerback Quenton Meeks. Late in a college career you can tell if a corner has what it takes to be physical enough to make the next level, and Meeks is one of those guys. He disrupts timing at the line of scrimmage, plays hard in the run game and can bait quarterbacks into making ill advised throws.
On offense, while he does not get much attention because of who he plays behind, back up running back Bryce Love is a key component of the offense. He is fast, a down hill runner and has some wiggle in space. He would start on most college teams and when McCaffrey splits out into the slot and Love is in the backfield it really messes with a defenses scheme and creates tons of mismatches as they try to adjust. Also remember, McCaffrey averages 5.5 yards an attempt while Love averages 5.7. He is a viable part of the offense and very dangerous.
Q: Prediction time! How do you see the game playing out? Final Score?
A: Stanford needs to come out and set the tone at the line of scrimmage and feed McCaffrey early and often. If they can put up points early it will allow their defensive front to play aggressive. The Beavers have a younger roster so putting the pressure in their court, on the road will be key for the Cardinal. While the ground game of Oregon State is cause for concern, Stanford's front seven did bounce back last weekend and hopefully will show up big here. The final piece will be if Keller Chryst can take that extra step on offense and make two or three big time throws down field to help clear out the box a bit for McCaffrey. Final score 30-17.
Big thanks to Colton Molesky for taking the time to chat with us. Check out our answers to their questions here. Go Beavers!