Optimism is in the air in Corvallis. Coach Smith has brought hope to the Beaver fans in making the Oregon State Beavers competitive. The USC game looked hopeful but the Beavers could not close it out. We saw the fans engaged and rally behind this Oregon State team like we haven’t seen in a while. The Beavers roll into Stanford this week hoping to knock off a top team in the Pac-12 North, and here’s what they’ll need to do to make that happen.
Key 1: Offensive Line play
The Beavers’ O-Line has given up the most sacks out of all 130 FBS schools. Dead last. This is not reflective of the talent on the offensive line. It looks like they are struggling in their communication. Blitzes come and they seem to not be on the same page for who to pick up. This is also on the RB as he is often there to pick up the unblocked man, but he is often jumping on someone who is already blocked. The offensive line has not been straight up overpowered since they played Ohio State. Jake Luton needs a solid pocket presence to be comfortable and lead the offense in the ways that he can. He looks paranoid as soon as the pocket begins to collapse and that is not helping the O-Line. This O-Line has plenty of talent and experience to fix these problems and they will need to if they hope to attack the Cardinal defense.
Key 2: Tackling
The Beavers defense has given up many big plays or first downs just because the first contact is not bringing down the ball carrier. This is costing them big. This defense has vastly improved through the year and is giving the Beaver offense chances to win the game. Their next improvement needs to be in tackling. If they can consistently bring down the ball carrier on the first contact they will see more three and outs. This comes from working on wrapping and rolling with their tackles and at least holding up the runner for help to come. The safety has led the Beavers in tackles the last two years and that is reflective of having good players at safety. The safety should also be the last line of defense. Ideally, the D-Line or linebackers would lead in tackles, limiting the offensive yards. Thankfully they do have the safety making tackles and saving touchdowns but the rest of the defense needs to focus on their tackling.
Key 3: Play a Complete Game
They were so close. Beaver fans were on the edge of their seats the entire game. It seemed the Beavers would only score when they were down by 14. They kept the game close but couldn’t seem to close it out. If they could keep consistent and at least continually getting first downs to wear down the defense, they can keep themselves in the game until the very end. Stanford is having a down year, but they are still a very good team. The Beavers will need a complete game if they hope to beat this Cardinal team. Last year the Beavers were one play away and a couple inches away from a tipped ball on fourth down from beating Stanford at home. The Beavers have always played Stanford well and look to finally put it all together.
Like I’ve said, the Beavers are close. They have revitalized Beaver Nation and got people excited to watch Beaver games. They still have a young team and talented recruits coming in and should only keep improving. A win this week would do a lot for the confidence of this team and show them they can beat anyone in the Pac-12. This feels like this is the Beavers chance to pull out an upset.