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Oregon State Football: Three Storylines Heading Into Saturday’s Game Vs. Colorado

What will the Beavers look like in their first game under interim head coach Cory Hall?

NCAA Football: Northern Colorado at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Much Ado About Coaches

If you somehow haven’t heard by now, Oregon State and head football coach Gary Andersen parted ways on Monday, giving interim head coach Cory Hall less than a full week to prepare for Colorado, where the Beavers have one of their few solid shots remaining at snagging a Pac-12 win this season. So if the job stacked in front of Hall wasn’t enough to begin with, he’ll also have to quickly mold a weak Oregon State defense into shape on the fly, somehow find some consistency in an erratic Beavers offense and manage all the head coach responsibilities (and still try to win the game) with just a handful of days of prior notice. Sounds like quite a bit of fun to be had for the cornerbacks coach, who has been with the program since January of 2016.

Obviously, the general idea is to expect the unexpected under an interim head coach, who’s mere appointment may inspire a team to change their approach and focus in on all the details of the game. But, like every other college football team who will take the field this weekend, Oregon State can at any moment become their own worst enemy on the field, where the general sharpness of the Beavers must improve on the fly. New coach or not, Oregon State needs to lock in, understand the task at hand and play for a victory, against a hungry Colorado team coming into Corvallis.

A Quarterback Conundrum

After having a three-way battle all summer long for the much coveted quarterback spot, Oregon State suddenly is running out of the options for the role of head gunslinger with just six games left on the regular season slate. Obviously, opening day starter Jake Luton’s loss to injury was unforeseen and unfortunate, but it’s actually the transfer of third-string quarterback Marcus McMaryion to Fresno State that’s really beginning to complicate things.

Since Luton’s likely out for the season (despite his “week-to-week” status), the reigns of the team have been handed over full-time to last year’s opening day starter, Darell Garretson, who has been unable to kick-start a slow and sputtering offensive unit, that’s managed just 17 points in the last two games combined. While Garretson has been mostly accurate, completing more than 50% of passes in both games with just one interception, it’s been the general lackluster nature of the passing game that’s generated only 135.5 yards per contest through the air. If Garretson is not the choice at quarterback, many believe that the staff should give last year’s “walk-on surprise” Conor Blount another shot at the position, to add a new fresh face inside the huddle.

Who Is Colorado?

After last year’s 8-1 conference record led them to a Pac-12 Championship game appearance against Washington, a future College Football Playoff participant, Colorado has sputtered out in 2017, as the Buffs sit currently in the midst of a three-game losing skid. And while their solid moments of strong play even in defeats have still led them to being a solid favorite over the Beavers, Colorado knows that nothing is promised on the road in the always exciting Pac-12. The Buffs will need to come to play against Oregon State and not pay attention to the Beavers’ abysmal 1-5 record.

For the Buffs however, some of their issues run deeper than the surface this season, as even through astounding performances like running back Phillip Lindsay’s 281-yard (41 carries), 3 touchdown game against Arizona, the Buffs weren’t able to find knock off the Wildcats. It simply seems for Colorado that each quarter has a life of it’s own, which can be hampered by a talent-stacked offense that swirls itself into miscues or a lamentable defense, that’s allowed 36 points a game to opponents in Pac-12 play this year. After breaking through into the national picture a season ago, the Buffs are searching for their identity in year five of the Mike MacIntyre era. Will the real Colorado please stand up?