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.
Brandon Arnold (Junior) — Safety
Vitals: 5-11, 206 pounds; from Los Angeles, California; Scout 3-Star recruit.
2016 Stats: Eight tackles and one interception that was returned for 43 yards.
Last season: Played 11 games, three of which were starts. Recorded 36 tackles.
Why he’s the X-Factor: The OSU defense will have it hands full trying to stop Boise State’s potent offense, including senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck who caught 88 passes for 1,412 yards and eight touchdowns last season. In case you are wondering, he’s already caught 13 passes for 243 yards and two TDs this season. Needless to say, Treston Decoud or Xavier Crawford will be busy Saturday.
As a result, Arnold will be counted on to provide support in the defensive backfield — and he has demonstrated a knack for big plays. Last week against Idaho State, he had a 43-yard interception return. Outside of a perfect game by the Beavers, they will need to create a turnover or two to defeat the Broncos, and that’s where Arnold’s presence could pay off in a big way.
He’s athletic and has a nose for the ball, so he should have opportunities to make plays against an offense such as Boise State’s. He also might need to help out against the run, in case standout BSU running back Joe McNichols gets past the front seven. Honestly, a case could be made for any of OSU’s defensive backs to be the X-factor, but Arnold seems primed to follow in Decoud’s footsteps.
Position Group X-Factors
Why it’s X-Factor: Boise State has recorded eight sacks in its first two games, meaning the OSU offensive line will face its biggest test, yet. And honestly, this game will probably be the barometer for the season for the line. If holds its own, it’s sign that it has improved from the first two games and could be decent. If it struggles, well, it could be a long season.
If the line can open running lanes and protect Darrell Garretson, perhaps the offense can keep up with Boise State’s, and give the OSU defense enough rest and time to make adjustments. If anything, sustaining drives will be key, as it will keep the BSU offense off the field. It would be nice to see the Beavers establish the run game, and this will be
This is a unit that’s faced a lot of adversity during the past year, and the players would probably be the first to admit they need to get a lot better. It won’t be easy against BSU, but what better time to take a big step forward, as the Broncos are a tough and physical team. This is a big reason the o-line needs to make an impact this Saturday, to show they can improve and get better.
Blitzers, who are your X-Factors for the Boise State game?