We continue our What to Expect series with a look at the Beavs upcoming match up with the Utah Utes, the first ranked opponent the Beavers will play this season.
The Beavers Will Face an Actual Good Defense
Let’s face it. Oregon State’s offense has been off the charts this season, but there is a probable reason for it. Through the first five games of the season OSU has played against some pretty sub-par defenses. According to ESPN’s SP+ rankings, the best defense the Beavs have played against so far this season is Oklahoma State, who is ranked 49th nationally.
That will change this week when the Beavers go up against Utah who is 20 spots ahead of the Cowboys at 29. Now is the time of the season where the Beavers show us if they’re offense is the real deal or not — they go on a stretch where they’ll face the number 29, 24, 89, 33, 13, 84, and the number 1 ranked defense (Oregon) in SP+ according to ESPN.
This week, the Utes come into Reser with a defense that is much more physical than any the Beavs have faced so far, and I’m most interested to see how the offensive line holds up against a very stellar defensive front.
We’ll also get to see how Jake Luton operates under pressure, as I’m sure he’ll be feeling it at some points on Saturday. All I’m saying is; don’t get discouraged if you see the offense struggle at times this week, they’ll be adjusting to a very different defense stylistically then they’ve played against this season.
The Running Backs Will be Heavily Involved in the Passing Game
Because Utah is going to be pressuring the Beavers passing attack frequently on Saturday, I think Jonathan Smith will try to chalk up some quick screens and short routes for the running backs.
We’ve seen both Jermar Jefferson and Artavis Pierce be more than capable of taking a short pass and turning it into a big play, and the best way to counter a heavy blitz, is to throw right where they came from.
These quick plays will also help out the offensive line, who won’t have to worry about keeping Luton protected for long periods of time, as the point of these plays is actually to get the defensive line past them so they can get down field and block for the screen.
I think the Beavers will also try and get the running backs going with the ground game going early on, but if they are having trouble, look for a switch to the strategy above.
We See the First Notable Turnover by the Offense
This is something that I think will directly impact the result of the game this week. Part of the reason why the offense has been so incredible has been their ability to hold onto the ball. Through the first five games, they are first nationally with one(!) turnover. Also, that turnover happened in garbage time against Cal Poly.
This week, I can see the Beavers getting a little more flustered by Utah’s defense, and possibly turning the ball over, giving Utah a better change of winning the game. If the Beavers are somehow able to keep their non turnover streak going, I’d say there is a solid chance they are able to get an upset win in Reser, but I’m getting worrisome that the streak can only last so long.