The X-Factor: Utah

What player and position group hold the key to help the Beavers beat the Bears? 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. 


Treston Decoud (Senior) — Cornerback

Vitals: 6-3 208 pounds; from Covington, Louisana; transferred from NW Mississippi State Community College where he a first team All-American in 2014 after recording 38 tackles, six interceptions (third in the nation) and seven pass breakups; was a 247 Sports 3-star recruit and the No. 4 ranked CB nationally.

2016 Stats: Five starts; 31 tackles, two for loss, two interceptions, four pass breakups, and one interception returned for touchdown.

Why he’s the X-Factor: Decoud has been a beast this season. His latest effort, holding California’s Chad Hansen, one of the top receivers in the nation, to four catches for 16 yards. Prior to last week’s game, Hansen’s stats were 55 catches, 754 yards, and eight TDs. So, simply put, Decould dominated his matchup against Hansen. It was the kind of performance that could boost his NFL hopes…

This week figures to be a little bit easier. But Tim Patrick, Utah’s top receiver, is no slouch either. He has caught 24 passes for 429 yards and five TDs this season. He’s a big-play threat literally and figuratively. Not only is Patrick averaging nearly 18 yards per catch, he’s a huge target at 6-5, 210 pounds. So it’s a safe bet that the 6-3 Decoud will be tasked with guarding Patrick.

And if Decoud is stellar again, it would really hurt Utah’s offense by making it more one dimensional, and taking away a safety valve from Utes quarterback Troy Williams. Plus, if Patrick is held in check, the OSU safeties can help out against the run more. Either way, it will be exciting to see both of this big, physical players go at it, and it’s part of the reason Decoud is my pick this week.

Position Group

Offensive Line

Why it’s X-Factor: The boys up front turned in their finest performance of the season against Cal, paving the way for the OSU running backs to rush for 474 yards and into the record books. Plus, they gave up just one sack. But their job gets much tougher against Utah, which always has a strong, physical, and violent front seven. In five games, the Utes have 18 sacks! 

It’s foolhardy to expect the line to be able to block well enough for another 400+ rushing outburst, but the real challenge is to see how they build on the Cal game and come out against stronger competition. That said, if they can limit Utah to two or less sacks, I’d consider that a big win for the OSU offensive line. Don’t underestimate the impact of Sean Harlow’s return, in terms of how physical he is. 

Protecting Darrell Garretson will be key if the Beavers are to jump start  their anemic passing game. Being able to do so against Utah defense would provide this line another huge boost, before the Beavers hit a tough, tough part of their schedule. Utah gives up about 119 yards rushing per game, here’s hoping the Beavs get 200 or more Saturday.

Blitzers, who are your X-Factors for the Utah game?  

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