The 3-2-1: Minnesota

We are now at a point where we can start counting down the hours until Oregon State kicks off their season against  This is a new weekly feature where we talk about three things we learned about the team, two questions that are lingering about the team and finally a prediction. So here you go, the first 3-2-1 of the season! 

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED

Seth Collins looks like the real deal at wide receiver:

His athleticism was never in question, nor was his passion for football. When the former quarterback decided to return to Oregon State after flirting with other schools during the offseason, only to return to the Beavers and a switch to receiver, the questions became how he would adjust to the position change? Collins answered all of those questions with a stellar fall camp where he overtook Hunter Jarmon at the Z-receiver position. He beat defensive backs short, he beat them deep and showed that he could outjump some of the Beaver’s top DBs.

Expect different defensive formations:

Each practice it looked as though the defense was working with a different defensive personnel groups. One day they practiced in their base 3-4 alignment, the next in a 1-4-6 or 3-3-5 or 2-4-5. It aligns with the new philosophy of new defensive coordinator Kevin Clune, who wants to give the offense a different look on each play. Expect a variety of lineups and formations from the new-look Beavers defense that’s trying to improve on the 37 points per game they gave up in 205.

Wait and see with the offensive line:

Once the Beavers moved from fall camp to game prep last week, co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach T.J. Woods said he was pleased with the continuity of the starting offensive line. That being said, he also mentioned that they would have to wait and see how they would perform once they played against an actual opponent. With only two returning starters from last year’s line-- Fred Lauina and Dustin Stanton--the question becomes if there enough help from the offensive line to get the playmakers mention above the ball? At two key positions on the line the Beavers will roll out a pair of players who will see their first college action, with Yanni Demogerontas at center and Blake Brandel at left tackle, there could be some growing pains there. Of course the o-line welcomes back senior Gavin Andrews, who has spent a lot of his time at Oregon State dealing with injuries or sickness that has limited him to 10 starts in his career.

TWO QUESTIONS

Will the pieces fit?

On paper, the Oregon State offense looks like they could nearly double their scoring output from last season’s 19 points per game. They have two Pac-12-proven receivers in Jordan Villamin and Victor Bolden. A couple of big running backs with speed in Ryan Nall and Tim Cook. A quarterback in Darell Garretson who isn’t making the first start of his career and has been coached by co-offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven since his time at Utah State. On top of all of that their is a pair of speedsters in Seth Collins and Paul Lucas, to go along with an athletic tight end in Noah Togiai. That’s a lot of good pieces that could put up some points. Will these pieces fit together to improve the offense enough to bring in more wins?

Will OSU be able to match Minnesota's physicality at the line of scrimmage?

The Big 10 conference has been known for having teams built to win at the line of scrimmage. Teams will try to pound the rock on offense, then stuff the run on the defensive end. OSU players know about this perception, and are aware of the challenge that comes with playing teams from the Midwest. Oregon State holds the speed advantage at the skill positions, but will they be able to hold up in the trenches against Minnesota?

ONE PREDICTION

I was one of the many here on Blitz that picked Minnesota to win this game. I see this game going down to the wire, but because Minnesota is playing at home while the Beavers had to travel two time zones, I see Gophers just squeaking this one out 24-16. Now my prediction is that OSU fans will feel good about the team following the game, in a similar way to last year’s Civil War, where improved play and competitiveness was evident. Before you can run, you need to learn to walk, before you can walk you need to be able to crawl. Last year the team mostly crawled and learned to walk in the Civil War, now it’s time to see if they can run. 

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