The Beavers come into this matchup as heavy favorites and should be able to get extended looks at playing time battles that they will want to iron out before conference play starts. UC Davis ended with a middling 6-5 record last year, but won five of their last six and has earned a spot in the FCS top 25 rankings after a comprehensive week one win on the road against Texas A&M - Commerce. Oregon State holds a substantial advantage but you still need to win the individual matchups, regardless of the pedigree of the other side.
Beavers on Offense
True to form the Oregon State offense was balanced in last week’s game against San Jose State. They passed 29 times and had 33 rushing plays and gained 7.9 yards per play across the board. That balance should continue for another week in the home opener at Reser Stadium.
Oregon State Running Backs vs LB #15 Teddye Buchanan
The Beavers ran more gap scheme runs than zone in last weeks game (18 to 11), which was a substantial departure from last year when 67% of their runs were zone. The San Jose State game featured frequent pulling guards and other linemen to disrupt the SJSU line and it’s hard to argue with the success they had. One thing to watch this week is who gets carries behind Damien Martinez. Deshaun Fenwick and Isaiah Newell were listed together as the back up in last week’s game, but Fenwick ended up being the only one of the two to touch the ball.
The Aggie’s bring back experience and depth in their linebacker room and are led by Buchanan, a 3rd Team All Big-Sky performer despite missing four games last season. He was a captain last year as a sophomore and can rack up tackles in the UC Davis 3-4 formations.
WR #13 Jesiah Irish vs CB #6 Markeece Alexander
The Beavers cycled through a number of slot receivers in last weeks game, and the coaching staff will look to use this matchup to continue to evaluate options there. Irish led the team with 10 snaps out of the slot last week and converted that into 3 catches for 39 yards. Keep an eye on Jeremiah Noga as well. He got half the pass snaps Irish did, but took advantage with 2 catches for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Outside of returning starter Jehiel Budgett, the Aggies are replacing their other starting corners. It’s hard to tell how the matchups will work out in the slot vs outside, but regardless of where they line up the Beavers will look to exploit Alexander and the rest of the UC Davis secondary. That unit had a lot of success against Texas A&M Commerce and forced the Lions to pull their starter after throwing 3 interceptions in the first half.
Beavers on Defense
With the only touchdowns coming after a blocked punt in OSU territory, and in the last drive of the game with reserves on the field, the Beaver defense made their mark in week 1. They now turn attention to a team that lost their top offensive skill position player from last year in RB Ulonzo Gilliam Jr.
EDGE #6 John McCartan vs RT #54 Nico Sarale
Oregon State was clearly focused on containing Spartan QB Chevan Cordeiro from scrambling in last weeks game. The approach was successful, but the flip side is that the Beavers did not rack up many pressures or sacks until late in the game. UC Davis QB Miles Hastings is not the same running threat, which should allow OSU edge rushers to be more aggressive in this game.
The talent on the UC Davis offensive line is in the middle, where LG Jake Parks and RG Jordan Ford have both received All-Big Sky team recognition in the past. Sarale was the full time starter at right tackle last season, but will not have seen edge rushers like McCartan and the rest of the Beavers. Getting pressure early will be the quickest way to turn the score lopsided.
ILB #2 Calvin Hart Jr. vs RB #3 Lan Larison
Easton Mascarenas-Arnold was the mainstay at inside linebacker against SJSU, while Hart Jr. and Makiya Tounge rotated at the spot next to him. There was not much to defend in the running game last week facing a pass-happy SJSU attack, but that will change against UC Davis. Although they lost Gilliam Jr., the Aggies return both Larison and Matteo Perez from last year and the two combined for 29 carries and 204 yards in last weeks game. Hart Jr. started the game against San Jose state and both he and Tounge acquitted themselves well. Whichever one is on the field will need to ensure they can maneuver around those interior linemen and wrap up the potentially dangerous Aggie backs.