The X-Factor: Oregon State vs. Minnesota

What player and position group hold the key to make the Beavers first game a victory in Minneapolis? BeaverBlitz takes a look at this week's X-Factors.

Editor’s Note: For each game this season, we are identifying a player and position group that could be the X-factor for the Beavers in that game. We claim no responsibility for jinxing any players. 

Individual X-Factor

DARELL GARRETSON  (RS Junior) — QB

Vitals: 6-0, 209 pounds; from Chandler, Arizona; transferred from Utah State where he started 11 games; sat out last season due to transfer rules

Last season (2014):  Played in five games before suffering a season-ending injury, completing 91 of 135 passes for 1,140 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

Why he’s the X-Factor: Darell Garretson will be making his highly anticipated first start for the Beavers, which also will mark the first time he’s seen live game action in nearly two years. It’s totally understandable if he comes out nervous and rusty his first drive or two. But for the Beavers to win a tough Big Ten matchup on the road, they will need Garretson to provide a steady, guiding presence that’s expected out of a team captain.

Minnesota will likely stack the box to try to contain Ryan Nall, and force Garretson to make plays. He will need to be prepared to use his feet a little to extend plays, as the OSU offensive line likely will need several games to mesh with each other. If Garretson can do that, and buy time for his receivers to get separation from Minnesota’s strong secondary, it could result in big plays downfield for the Beavers. It will be interesting to see how Garretson attempts to exploit the defense.

Garretson’s play tomorrow will go a long way toward an OSU victory. If he struggles, the Beavers may find it hard to get into a rhythm offensively. But hopefully, he settles in quickly and is able to help the offense move the chains consistently. 

Position Group X-Factor

DEFENSIVE LINE

Why it’s X-Factor: It’s tempting to pick the OSU offensive line, all things considered. But watch out for the front three (or four?) for the Beavers on the other side of the ball. They have to be able to put pressure on Minnesota QB Mitch Leidner. Not only does he have a big arm, but he can run the ball a little (253 yards, 6 TDs last year). So, getting to him, hitting him, and hopefully wrapping him up will be paramount.

Minnesota’s top running back, Shannon Brooks, is out with any injury. But the Beavers still have to deal with backup Rodney Smith who ran for 670 yards last season. So, yes the defensive line has its work cut out for itself At the very least, if they can get enough pressure on Leidner, or at least create seams for the linebackers to penetrate — things look brighter for the Beavers. Plus, isn’t it about time the Beavers had a defensive line that was consistently disruptive?

Expect to see a lot of rotating along the line tomorrow, as the Beavers need to stay fresh against a Minnesota team that will likely go right at them and be physical all night long. Here’s hoping for a multiple sacks and tackles for loss performance! 

Blitzers, who are your X-Factors for the Minnesota game? Join the discussion in The Lodge.

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