Kickoff is officially less than 24 hours away. The Beavers are in Indiana ready to take on the Purdue Boilermakers in front of a packed stadium, with fans hungry to watch their favorite football team in person again. Oregon State is 7-point underdogs, but I’m feeling optimistic they can pull off the upset with Sam Noyer at the helm. In order to do so though, the Beavers will need fantastic performances from the following players:
1. Rejzohn Wright vs. David Bell (WR)
David Bell is a pass-catching machine. And as one of the top receivers in the nation, he’s a lock to be drafted in next years NFL draft. He eclipsed 1000 yards as a true freshman and in just six games as a sophomore he had 53 receptions, 625 yards & 8 touchdowns. Rejzohn has not seen a bunch of playing time for Oregon State, but the ‘Last Chance U’ star is (hopefully) ready to step into the role his brother, Nahshon Wright, left behind after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys. Rejzohn’s first game as a starter is truly going to be a sink-or-swim type of situation. If he can hold his own against David Bell it would be a huge victory for the Beavers defense that is looking to take a giant step forward. If Wright is consistently getting beaten look for more experienced defensive backs to take over that assignment like: EJ Jones or Jaydon Grant.
2. Joshua Gray vs. George Karlaftis (DE)
George Karlaftis is an uber-talented edge rusher. He’s basically the Hamilcar Rashed Jr. of Purdue. Last season when Karlaftis was injured Purdue’s defense struggled mightily to get in opposing backfields. In fact, he played in both of Purdue’s wins and was out for all four losses in 2020. Karlaftis will see time against both Joshua Gray and Brandon Kipper as he usually lines up on the strong side of the field. The recipe for a Beavers victory is to establish the run and keep the ball out of Purdue’s hands. If they can’t do that and they find themselves down early, George Karlaftis might just make Sam Noyer’s debut miserable.
3. Avery Roberts vs. Zander Horvath (RB)
Zander Horvath is Purdue’s undisputed starting running back. The senior is big (6’3 & 230-pounds) and does it all for the Boilermakers. He’s a big time receiving threat and is just as happy blocking for his teammates as he is getting the football. The former walk-on was recruited as a linebacker and is a crazy hard worker. Avery Roberts and company will have their hands full because Horvath will not make it easy on them.
While I do think it’ll be a fun, hard-fought season opener against Purdue; the Beavers better come prepared for some adversity. The crowd will be wild and I expect to see some devastating Jack Plummer to David Bell deep balls. I trust Jonathan Smith and his coaching staff to come up with a solid gameplan and want to believe Oregon State’s defense will finally be above-average, but Purdue will put it to the test. Go Beavers!