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What We Learned Versus Southern Utah

Highlights and observations after week two

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Media Day Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to week two of What We Learned. We just witnessed the first win of Head Coach Jonathan Smith’s career as the Beavers beat the Southern Utah Thunderbirds 48 to 25. Let’s look at some takeaways from this game.

Conor Blount is the guy

Last week we mentioned that Conor Blount looked like he could be the quarterback going forward; after week two, it looks like the job is his to lose. Week one starter, Jake Luton, came into the game after halftime, and the Beavers only put up seven more points on the board. Perhaps, since the game was in hand, the home team let off the gas and the lack of Trevon Bradford and Artavis Pierce made the offense ineffective, but I think we’ve seen enough to declare Blount the man.

Oregon State v Ohio State
Conor Blount should be the number one option at the quarterback position moving forward.
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Jermar Jefferson could be another great running back in OSU history

An unfortunate injury to Artavis Pierce opened the door for Jermar Jefferson to get an extended look against the Thunderbirds. Jefferson took full advantage of this opportunity to rush for 238 yards, third most in a single game for the Beavers. To do that on just 22 carries means he averaged over 10 yards a carry! Hopefully Pierce’s injury does not keep him out for long, because the offense’s success really depends what he brings to the table (see his speed demonstrated on two 78+ yard runs against Ohio State from week one).

Jefferson’s breakout performance might remind some Beaver fans of Malcolm Agnew’s 223 yard outburst against Sacramento State as a freshman in 2011. Here’s to hoping that Jefferson’s career works out differently than Agnew’s!

Jim Michalczik is a huge upgrade to the coaching staff

The season is only two weeks old, but one of the biggest changes is the play by the offensive line. This year’s squad is largely the same as the last, with the primary change being the coach. Visibly there is improvement in run and pass blocking by this group. If you look at statistics (through two weeks), Oregon State has averaged 278 yards on the ground, compared to 138 a year ago. The two weeks individually would rank 1st and 3rd among last year’s statistics. I know Arizona has gone through a whole coaching overhaul like Oregon State, but just for funsies, their rushing average has dropped by more than half since Michalczik’s departure.

Arizona v UNLV
Jim Michalczik has been a huge addition to the coaching staff as seen in the running game.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The defense really needs a pass rush

So far, the defense has just two sacks, both against Southern Utah. It’s still early in the year, but at that pace they will have less that last year’s 14. In the second half of this game, we saw the Thunderbird’s quarterback, Chris Helbig, get more comfortable and finish with 340 passing yards. The lack of push up front and little harassment of the opposing quarterback (just four hurries so far this year) is going to hurt when conference play rolls around.

We are (still) snake-bit with injuries

The Beavers are already missing their best defensive player due to injury in David Morris, and now their best offensive player (Pierce) could be missing some time. Plus they’re still waiting for reinforcements on the defensive line (Jeromy Reichner), and in the secondary (Morris, Jay Irvine). Every team goes through their plague of injuries, but it seems like Oregon State is having an especially rough start.