Q: While both teams have struggled this year, this might be one of the more interesting games in several years. Rivalry games always bring out the best or worst in teams, so headed into this contest how do the Beavers look at this game, is it a must win game, or is it just another game on the schedule? In other words, do they approach every game the same way or are some games more important than others?
Angie Machado: The coaches and players continually say they take the season one game at a time, and while I believe them, there is no doubt that Civil War week has brought an extra bounce to their step. You can see a glimmer in their eyes as they look to break the streak of lost Civil Wars and send the seniors out in a big way. It should be an exciting game with both teams fighting for a little momentum this off-season.
Q: The Beavers have been competitive this season, despite the 3-8 record. What has been the underlying reason why Oregon State has made the improvements it has during the year? Is it only coaching or have there been players who made some big steps forward in terms of progress? (Or both?)
AM: Nothing has been easy for the Beavers this season, as injuries, medical retirements and illness have hit the Beavers harder than usual this year. What other team in the country has had two players being treated for testicular cancer and one fighting bacterial meningitis? The key throughout however has been the team’s fight and that is a direct reflection of Coach Andersen.
Talent wise, this is a team that shouldn’t even be in many of the games they have been in. Third string quarterback, true freshmen all over the field, some just seeing their first action in the last month, however they haven’t lost their fight and have given teams everything they have for the most part, something we didn’t during the past few seasons. Many of the freshmen have really had to step up and learn on the fly and they’ve caught on quickly, but overall, the coaches should be applauded for changing the culture in Corvallis over the past two years.
Q: Last week’s win over Arizona was a dominant performance on both sides of the ball. Who were the key players in that game and what did they do that made them so?
AM: Honestly, if you would have told me that quarterback Marcus McMaryion would have had more touchdown passes than incomplete passes last week, I would have laughed. He tossed five touchdowns to five different players, while completing 16-19 passes for 265 yards. He was remarkable. The Beaver offense is a completely different team when running back Ryan Nall is on the field. When he has been unable to play, the offense becomes stagnate, but with him taking reps with true freshman Artavis Pierce, the offense has been able to open up.
Defensively the Beavers have been led by the play of seniors linebacker Caleb Saulo, safety Devin Chappell and corner Treston Decoud. True freshman linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray, who had his first start against Washington in late October continues to be a physical force for the Beavers and junior linebacker Manase Hungalu has seen tremendous growth in his game over the last month.
Q: Oregon defensive coach John Neal said on Tuesday that he expects to see many similar things from Oregon State that the Ducks saw in Utah. Of course Gary Anderson worked for Kyle Whittingham for several seasons, so is that a valid observation on Neal’s part? What similarities might we expect to see from the Beavers?
AM: I can see some similarities, especially with the Beavers defense which models itself in that same “punch you in the mouth” style that Utah plays. The Beavers will try to out-physical their opponents, but are still a few pieces away from being able to dominate. Offensively I can see the Beavers looking to run first against the Duck defense, and then play the pass to mix things up.
Honestly the Oregon State defense is more in the same mold to Utah’s defense then the offense.
Q: If you were to pick the key player on offense and on defense for this upcoming game, who would they be and why?
AM: Offensively it has to be Ryan Nall. If the Beavers are going to have success against the Ducks, it is going to be on the legs of Nall. He can punish defenses, is strong and big, but if he gets into the open field, look out as he has deceptive speed.
Defensively, the Beavers are going to need a big game from linebackers Caleb Saulo and Manase Hungalu in stopping Oregon’s run game. The defensive backs have been solid this year, but not biting and being able to stop the run will be imperative if the Beavers hope to have success.