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Behind Enemy Lines: Colorado Buffaloes vs. Oregon State Beavers

Can the Buffs avoid an upset from an explosive Beaver team?

NCAA Football: Washington State at Oregon State Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

If you’re like me, you haven’t watched much Oregon State football this year. Under first-year head coach Jonathan Smith, they are a major rebuilding project. Well, here to inform us about the visiting Oregon State team is Joe Londergan of Building the Dam

  1. Oregon State has been an extremely explosive offense this year. What has contributed to the uptick in big plays?

Jermar Jefferson has been a big piece of that, but I’ll get to him specifically in a second. It’s interesting, Oregon State’s offensive line has been run blocking exceptionally well all season, but the pass blocking has just been tough to watch. Artavis Pierce and Jefferson both have been able to take advantage of the good run blocking though and at least allow the Beavs’ offense to move the ball a little bit. The big pass plays that the Beavs have been able to achieve though have come from Conor Blount hucking it downfield and the older Beavs’ receivers being pretty good at winning jump balls in spots. They kind of have to as the shorter designed pass plays don’t really seem to be working. It’s definitely go big or go home with this offense and, well, you can see how well that’s going by their record.

2. Jermar Jefferson is on a roll this year as a freshman. Will he play on Saturday and what makes him so great?

Despite a quad injury that was apparently suffered during the week before the Cal game, Coach Smith is very optimistic that Jefferson is going to play this Saturday. Jefferson has plenty of great physical tools at his disposal, but the two things that I think are especially useful for him are his vision as a ball carrier and his acceleration. If he gets some space, he can pick up speed very very quickly which is why he has been the main spark behind the offense’s “explosiveness”. Even with the limited action against Cal, he’s had at least one run for 20+ yards in every game this season. As far as his vision goes, he’s just able to recognize where the holes his line creates are and go. He doesn’t waste time in getting upfield, which younger backs can do sometimes.

3. How are OSU fans enjoying Brian Lindgren?

I think they’re a little in the middle on him right now. That can be said of this whole team, really. The evidence says that Oregon State is prepping for some big improvement in the next couple of years, but some fans are finding that tough to believe after yet another rough start. The offense has been the biggest bright spot of that though. I understand some CU fans were a little frustrated with Lindgren, but the improvement in production offensively and just overall competitiveness has been so drastic from 2017 that it’s hard for me to be too upset with what he’s done to this point.

4. Who are the players to watch on offense and defense?

With Conor Blount in concussion protocol, look for Jack Colletto to get the start at quarterback. The third-string quarterback has a big task in front of him, but hopefully he is up for it. There’s Jefferson and Pierce in the backfield of course. Then at receiver there’s Trevon Bradford. He can do a little bit of everything for OSU.

On defense, safety Jalen Moore is the closest thing to an MVP that Oregon State has right now. He leads the team in tackles with 63, has broken up three passes, and forced a fumble. Hamilcar Rashed Jr is also making an impact at linebacker with six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks, so it would be good idea for CU’s offense to keep an eye on him.

5. Colorado is thin in the secondary this week. Who can exploit that for the Beavers?

The biggest deep threat for the Beavs is Bradford. If Colorado isn’t careful, he’ll probably break off a few big plays. Timmy Hernandez also has some good yards-after-catch type ability and I’d say he’s probably the most dependable of the guys in the Beavs’ receiving corps. Noah Togiai at tight end is also a good pass catcher, but he hasn’t been used all that much since coming back from injury a few weeks ago.

6. How can Colorado beat Oregon State?

Throw the ball. The Beavs are generating next to no pass rush this year with only six sacks with the fewest pass deflections and interceptions in the Pac-12. On the other side of the ball, mix up the blitzes. Like I mentioned, the offensive line is having some issues with pass protection so that will create some problems for OSU’s offense, regardless of who plays quarterback.

7. What is your prediction for the game?

Colorado 34, Oregon State 10. I know CU’s offense can put up a lot of points quickly and just like the Buffs, Oregon State is missing a lot of the players in the secondary that we were excited about in the offseason. I can definitely see Montez taking advantage of that.