On Sept. 1, Angie Machado, longtime publisher of BeaverBlitz.com, joined myself, Ryan Abraham (USCFootball.com), Josh Gershon, Adam Munsterteiger (BuffStampeed.com) and Dan Sorensen (UteZone.com) by making the move over to Scout. She has covered Oregon State athletics since 2006, and is the leading authority on all things orange and black (that aren't the San Francisco Giants). We exchanged questions with one another to preview Saturday's game, and here are her answers.
BearTerritory: There has been so much turmoil along the Oregon State OL this offseason. Can you give a brief rundown of the issues that have faced that unit, and what it looks like now?
Angie Machado: The big question is where to start with the offensive line. Last season's starter Sean Harlow broke his ankle in the Beavers' loss to Colorado and it looked like he was planning to redshirt this season.Leo Fuimaono and Drew Clarkson were forced to medically retire in the off-season. Fuimaono was diagnosed with spinal stenosis while Clarkson, who fought testicular cancer in high school, had a surgery this past winter to remove a non-cancerous tumor and decided to retire from football as the recovery from the surgery was tougher than expected.
Then, promising sophomore Robert Olson who has battled injury throughout his Oregon State career (two hip surgeries and a viral infection to his vocal cords) seemed ready to get back to action, when he too was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Also lost this spring and part of the summer was Brayden Kearsley, a former four-star transfer who has helped nurse his girlfriend back to health after a serious car accident left her in a coma. He has just recently returned to the team and has seen action in the past two games. The Beavers also lost key back-up Mason Johnson after he retired because of head injuries.
AM: Andersen continues to say that Garretson is the starting quarterback, but his inefficiency at running the Beavers offense has paved the way for walk-on freshman Conor Blount to get some reps. Since the Minnesota game during which Garretson completed 62 percent of his passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns, OSU’s quarterbacks have completed 52 percent of their passes for 463 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.
Garretson has battled some injuries, mostly just nicks from being pressured and sacked, but he has been practicing and looks 100%. The Beaver quarterbacks have been sacked 17 times through 4 games this season already, enough to make any quarterback a little weary in the pocket.
Blount has a good arm and isn't afraid to use his legs if he needs to. That being said, he is a true freshman and threw into coverage on several occasions and made some freshman mistakes against the Buffaloes last week.
BT: The secondary looks like it may be the relative strength of the Beavers' defense. What have they done well this year?
AM: Well, the secondary was a strength of the team during the first few games, but injuries have decimated the unit with two cornerbacks out with injury. The Beavers are led by senior cornerback Treston Decoud (cousin of former Bear Thomas Decoud) and safeties Brandon Arnold and Devin Chappell.
Decoud has two of the Beavers four interceptions on the year and is second on the team in tackles, while Chappell leads the team in tackles (28).
Decoud is a rangy corner who has shown great improvement in his coverage this season. He's been so solid in fact that teams are not throwing his direction as much, putting more pressure on the back-ups.
BT: Who are the defensive personnel we should know headed into Saturday?
AM: Aside from Decoud and Chappell, sophomore Bright Ugwoegbu have been statistical leaders for the Beavers defense, but the Beavers have really struggled to create much of a pass rush all season. Through four games the Beavers have only six sacks.
Coach Gary Andersen has mentioned burning the redshirts of two true freshmen defensive ends/linebackers Joah Robinett and Hamilcar Rashed. If they will be able to create more pressure is obviously yet to be seen.
BT: How does Oregon State get the ball into Victor Bolden's hands, and what does he bring to the table?
AM: Bolden can be an electric athlete and you'll see him back as a return man on special teams where he already has one kick-off return for a touchdown this year. On offense Bolden is really a utility player who will line up wide as a receiver and will go in motion often in the fly sweep, which may be where he is most dangerous. Seeing him in the fly sweep or seeing him with the ball in space is really where he shines, but he can be a deep threat if the quarterback play improves.
BT: Any injuries of note not previously discussed?
AM: I don't expect we see offensive lineman Fred Lauina on Saturday, after going down in Colorado with an ankle injury. Cornerback Jay Irvine is out with a shoulder injury sustained in Boulder as well. Cornerback Dwayne Williams is still questionable for Saturday.
BT: Final prediction, and why?
AM: The Beavers have struggled to find any sort of identity on offense and without a pass rush Cal should be able to move the ball fairly easily. I keep waiting to see the Beaver team that played in week one at Minnesota, if they play like that, I see this game being closer than most expect. However, we have to go off of what we've see the past few weeks and I think Cal rolls 42-10.