Oregon State football is back this week with the conference opener against Stanford. It will be the offenses biggest challenge yet, and will help us see how they might look the rest of the season.
The Beavers Will Attack Through the Air
Oregon State has been a run first team through the first three games of the season. That has partially been because of the defenses they have played against and their inability to consistently stop OSU’s ground attack.
That will change this week when the Beavers take on the Cardinal in Reser. Oregon State’s offensive line will face their biggest challenge yet this season when they go up against one of Stanford's biggest strengths on the defensive side — the line. They are easily the biggest unit OSU has played against this year and will end up being one of the biggest they’ll play all year. Because of that, the running lanes that we’ve seen often this season will be harder to come by.
There is still no Trevon Bradford this week, so Isaiah Hodgins will be targeted early and often, like he has through the first three games. I believe if the offensive line can give Jake Luton enough time to get the ball off, he should be able to get the ball to his receivers against this struggling Stanford secondary.
Jonathan Smith Will Try to Pull Off Some Trick Plays
Smith hasn’t exactly been shy with his trick play calling this season (see the disastrous fake punt in a tie game on your side of the 50), but especially coming off a bye week, he might have some things up his sleeve. The bye week will give the Beavers a chance for an extra look at Stanford’s defense, and let Smith draw up some trickery that might work against them.
Personally, I’d like to see them bust one out on their first offensive play of the second half. Given that in the first three games of the season, the offense has come out of the locker room cold and punted on each of these possessions. A successful trick play here would give the Beavers an opportunity to create a splash that can pump themselves and the crowd up to possibly spark a run at winning this game.
The Defense Will Have Their Chance to Make Some Stops
Stanford has been a pretty one dimensional offense so far this season. They’re are going to try and run the ball with their big offensive line, then use that to work in play action passing. Although Stanford hasn’t faced a secondary quite as bad as OSU’s, I think the Beavers will have chances to make some stops against them if they can get some pressure on Stanford QB K.J. Costello.
Costello has only played in three games this season, but has boasted pretty meager stats. He has completed 53-94 passes for 471 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Costello is capable of making plays with his legs (which is a big weakness for the Beavers defense) but he will prefer to stay in the pocket to make some throws.
This is the week where we see if the Beavers are going to be able to compete with the rest of the Pac 12 this season. Stanford has looked like a pretty middle-of-the-pack (pun intended) team so far this year, so even though they are a bit bigger than OSU, the Beavers have the talent to make this a game. If it does end up being a blowout against the Beavs, it could end up being a long rest of the season.