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.
Darell Garretson (RS Junior) — Quarterback
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
2016 Stats: Three starts; 453 yards passing, three touchdowns, one interception, 59 percent completion rate; also rushed for one TD.
Why he’s the X-Factor: Gary Andersen said Garretson is still 100 percent the starter, so he’ll get another chance to get on track against California. It’s a double whammy as the Beavers will need to score points to keep up with Cal, while DG could use a nice confidence booster. While Cal looks to be improved on defense, they won’t be as strong as Colorado, so hopefully, there will be more time for him.
One area Garretson has impressed so far this season is running the ball, and he should look to do that against the Golden Bears, to help open things up for him in the passing game. Also, to help him get into a much-need rhythm, the coaches need to let him roll out and make plays. If he can get comfortable and settle down, this could be a rebound game for him.
However, if Garretson comes out sluggish, the bad news is Andersen won’t hesitate to pull him. But for his sake and to give this offense a chance to get going, Garretson needs to be give a chance to take his lumps. If he can work through them and hit on a few deep balls, maybe he’ll resemble the confident and effective QB that he was during the spring and the Minnesota game.
Last Game: 34 carries, 126 yards, 3.7 YPC, long of 18 yards.
Season Stats: 64 carries, 265 yards three touchdowns, 4.2 YPC.
Why it’s X-Factor: One of the few bright spots for the Beavers last weekend was Art Pierce. The true freshman carried the ball eight times for 61 yards, to lead the team in rushing. Not only was he quick to hit the holes, but also showed power dragging defenders. And his 7.6 average per carry highlights his big-play capability, something the Beavers desperately need.
He and Ryan Nall (nine carries, 35 yards against CU) need to be able to churn and move the chains this Saturday in order to keep California’s explosive offense off the field as much as possible. Running the ball chews up clock time, especially first down after first down. And if the run works, the coaches need to stay with the run. There’s no need to force the passing game, especially one that’s struggling.
If the OSU running backs average close to five yards per carry and get plenty of opportunities, it could help the Beavers keep the game competitive. If the opposite happens, there could be a repeat of the Colorado game. At the very least, Pierce needs more chances to shine because he has been impressive so far. This also could be a game Nall breaks out in, because Cal’s defense hasn’t been its strength.
Blitzers, who are your X-Factors for the California game?