Portland State Vikings
- Head Coach: Bruce Barnum (6th Season)
- 2019 Record: 5-7 (3-5 in Big Sky)
- Last Meeting: 9/2/17 - Oregon State 35, Portland State 32
- Key Returners: DB - Anthony Adams, QB - Davis Alexander, WR - Emmanuel Daigbe
The last time Oregon State met up with their cross-state rival in Portland State, the Beavers eked out a three-point win in what would go on to be the closest result of the Vikings’ disastrous 0-11, 2017 campaign.
Oregon State wasn’t too far behind. That season, the Beavers and Gary Andersen parted ways after just six games and Cory Hall would unsuccessfully lead the team down the stretch to a final 1-11 season. It was retroactively viewed as a battle of attrition between two programs that had hit rock bottom.
In 2020, it’ll be viewed as a fight between two teams working their way back up.
From Portland State’s standpoint, the process has been a difficult one as the Big Sky is arguably the best conference in FCS football, which featured four teams ranked in the Top 10 of last year’s final poll, including two squads (Weber State and Montana State) in the Top 5 overall.
However, head coach Bruce Barnum, along with his “Barnyball” style, believes he has an offense ready to compete with the best in the league.
Helping that cause will be the fact that the Vikings return their top four wide receivers in Emmanuel Daigbe, Davis Koetter, Mataio Talalemotu and Beau Kelly, who combined for over 2,100 yards and 22 scores last year. They’ll also have versatile quarterback Davis Alexander back in the fold, a player who finished second on the team in rushing in 2019, while also throwing for 2,928 yards and 25 touchdowns.
Where the Vikings need to improve is up-front, as a veteran stable of lineman need to produce more consistently for a running back core that leaves a lot to be desired. Besides senior Malik Walker, who had 66 carries for 295 yards last year, Portland State doesn’t boast another tailback with any substantial contributions.
Defensively though, the Vikings can claim a legitimate star in defensive back Anthony Adams, one of the most feared defenders at the FCS level.
A rising junior, Adams was a 2019 first-team FCS All-American, having accumulated 104 tackles, 26 pass breakups, 8.5 tackles for loss, 6 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery in just 23 career games at Portland State. The unequivocal leader of the Vikings defense, he’ll need the team’s seven returning starters to step up alongside him, especially with the losses defensive backs Sam Inos and Romeo Gunt.
Overall, it’s a likeable but not explosive group, that encompasses a solid trio of defensive linemen in Noah Yunker, Jake Porter and Semise Kofe and a defensive backfield that works around Adams to seem more competitive than they are individually. Safety Ryan Lesch is a name to remember, as are linebackers Dylan Hanley, David Joseph and Nicolas Ah Sam, who finished 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively on the team in tackles. There’s some work to do here, but with a legitimate game-changer like Adams, the room for growth is tangible, especially if Portland State’s early season tests at Arizona and Oregon State don’t stunt their ability to find chemistry and cohesion.
A final tidbit about the Vikings that could impact the contest in one way or another is that they have a frighteningly loaded special teams unit, which features school record-breaking kicker Cody Williams and punter Seth Vernon, who ranked 12th in the country in yards per punt (43.2 YPP) last year. Very rarely can kickers and punters influence a game at the college level like this duo can. They’re surely nothing to bat an eye at.
Player To Watch
Emmanuel Daigbe - Wide Receiver
The team’s leading returning target in a core full of program veterans, Daigbe was third-team All-Big Sky selection at wide receiver in 2019, while also finding a spot in the accolades as a first-team all-league special teams returner. With a 6’ 1”, 210-pound frame, Daigbe will probably improve on his 40 receptions for 651 yards and 7 scores, especially if Alexander can become a more accurate passer. The Beavers will also have to corral him by limiting the chances they give Daigbe in open space on special teams.
- Date: Saturday, September 19th
- Time: TBD
- Location: Reser Stadium (Corvallis, Oregon)
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