Joe Londergan of Building the Dam has had to cover two head coaches this week. He was nice enough to take time out of his schedule to help us understand the Beavers. You can check out our answers to his questions about the Buffaloes here.
So…What happened with Gary Andersen?
It's an unprecedented situation for sure. Andersen had been at it for a few years trying to get this team to a bowl game. Despite last year ending on a high note, they came out flat at the start of the year and have only barely improved since. Andersen said many times throughout his time that he would win with this program if it kills him. As it has come out, it came close to doing just that. Andersen was apparently incredibly frustrated with the state of the program and largely blamed his assistants for the lack of development. When it became clear that winning and reaching a bowl wasn't going to happen, he opted to take an out. Out of respect for his good friend and OSU athletic director Scott Barnes, he chose to essentially tear up his contract and release the school from its obligation to pay him the money left on the deal. It was over $12.6 million.
Will we see a more focused and energized team now that they’re playing for a new coach?
Tough to say. The majority of the players seemed to think really highly of Andersen and they're visibly upset that he's no longer their coach. So in that sense, I'm sure they'll have a little fire in their belly trying to avenge him, in a sense. On the other hand, the players are now entirely in the hands of Andersen's former assistant coaches, who Andersen more or less pinned the performance of the team on throughout the year. So some will probably be upset by that as well and want to win for them. Or, they agree with Andersen and won't want to play for the leftover coaching staff, if that makes sense.
Ryan Nall healthy enough to play on Saturday? How has the lauded backfield performed this year?
Nall suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the USC game. He's still listed as questionable, but I'd be surprised if he didn't play this week especially considering all that's happened this week. OSU's rushing attack has put up 773 yards on 184 attempts so far, which makes for the 9th best rushing offense in the league right now. Nall is obviously the key piece of that, but Artavis Pierce also chips in along with senior Trevorris Johnson and former Oregon standout Thomas Tyner (when he's been healthy). They've been okay overall, but particularly effective in the red zone (when they can get there). On 15 trips inside the 20, 12 resulted in touchdowns, 7 of which were rushing.
Oregon State has a young secondary that has struggled this year, have they improved since the CSU game?
Well they got a bit better in the two games following Colorado State, but made some worrisome key mistakes that resulted in big plays, particularly in that game against Minnesota. In the next three games, the Beavs faced Luke Falk, Jake Browning, and Sam Darnold which didn't do wonders for their numbers. They're giving up an average of 296.5 yards per game this year. They definitely need to develop further, which they will with time. Like you alluded to, they have several sophomores playing key roles in the defense. But also a few of the veteran leaders are contributing to those key mistakes I mentioned, which is discouraging.
Who are the players to watch on offense? Defense?
On offense, tight end Noah Togiai and wide receiver Jordan Villamin are the prime targets for this passing attack. Both have caught 18 passes for 201 and 196 yards respectively. Each have a touchdown as well. In the rushing game, you always have to watch out for Ryan Nall provided that he is healthy and the inexperienced offensive line can get a push up front.
Defensively, freshman safety David Morris is a good rising star to watch. He's now second on the team in tackles with 42. He also has an interception and two passes defended. The senior linebacker Manase Hungalu is the leader of the defense with 48 tackles and two interceptions. He's also an important part of the pass rush. Sophomore safety Jalen Moore, a Denver native, is growing into an important piece as well with 35 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble.
Will Seth Collins play some QB given Khalil Tate’s success?
I can see why that would be an appealing option and I wouldn't necessarily rule it out. With Jake Luton, who started the year at QB, likely out for the rest of the year, they could use some sort of offensive spark.For those who might not remember, Seth Collins started seven games at QB for OSU in 2015, but was converted to receiver following that stretch of time. However look for Darrel Garretson to get the majority of the work at quarterback. Garretson is 29 of 53 on passing attempts this year with 291 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Besides, if Seth Collins played quarterback, we'd miss catches like this one: https://twitter.com/Pac12Network/status/916810852161904640.
What is your prediction for the game?
I think Colorado takes this one 27-14. The Buffs are just a bit better on both offense and defense. Plus, if the OSU rushing defense keeps playing like it has been, Phillip Lindsay could have another field day.