Utah faces another important Pac-12 test on Saturday as the Utes travel to Corvallis to take on the Oregon State Beavers. UteZone caught up with Oregon State insider Angie Machado of BeaverBlitz to get her take on what to expect this weekend.
The OSU win over Cal was probably the least expected Pac-12 result last week. What did the Beavers do differently against Cal to finally get the offense rolling and notch the first conference win?
They ran the ball. It sounds simple enough, but the Beavers had struggled to do much of anything offensively this season until Saturday. Against Cal the Beavers rushed for 474 yards. Yes, you read that correct, 474. They had rushed for a total of 557 yards in the previous four games COMBINED.
The biggest reason, was the offensive line. They were able to open up huge holes and big, bruising back, Ryan Nall was able to take advantage. The Beavers also utilized a nice mix of short passes and fly sweeps to keep Cal off balance.
How would you describe the Beaver offense? What are its strengths and who are the players Ute fans should be aware of? Do you see them putting up the kind of rushing yards they did against Cal on Utah?
The Beavers like to spread the field out and use a combination of deep balls and shorter passes and runs. The problem is, we really haven’t seen the Beavers offense run on all cylinders since Gary Andersen took over. Last year the Beavers went through three quarterbacks, and this year we’ve seen Garretson struggle with the deep ball and the offensive line struggle to block both in pass protection and run blocking.
Obviously Ute fans should be aware of Darell Garretson, the quarterback. He was able to run for over 100 yards against Cal and looked comfortable doing so. He has continued to struggle with deep passes however. Ryan Nall is a little banged up, but expected, as of now, to see some action. Utah will also see Paul Lucas, a speedster and Artavis Pierce, a true freshman who has some ‘wiggle’ to his game.
Wide receivers Victor Bolden and Seth Collins are the main targets to watch. Bolden is artful with the fly sweep and Collins, a quarterback last year, has made the transition to wide receiver look easy. He is an incredible athlete and has really picked up blocking schemes quickly.
As for putting up the kind of rush numbers like the Beavers did against Cal? No way. Utah’s front seven is way stronger than Cal’s and it will be a battle all day in the trenches.
How would you rate Darrell Garretson as a quarterback? How do you think he'll fare against one of the better pass rushing defensive fronts in the Pac-12?
Well, the struggles really have been up front for the Beavers, but they have revamped the offensive line over the past two weeks and Garretson has had more time to make his reads. The weather should also help the Beavers as it is supposed to be heavy rain on Saturday, meaning both teams will be running the ball more.
The Oregon State defense has given up a lot of points in Pac-12 play. What do you see as their greatest weakness? Who are the playmakers that could be difference makers against the Utes?
Yes, through the season, the second and fourth quarters have been brutal for the Beavers, but against their two PAC 12 opponents it was the first half against Colorado where they gave up 37 points, and the third quarter against Cal where they gave up 17.
It is really a double edge sword. When the offense struggles to maintain drives, the defense struggles and wears out. Against Colorado, the Beavers only scored six points and that came from two field goals. Playing an entire 60 minutes has to be the goal for the team, including the defense.
A couple of players Ute fans should know include Treston Decoud, the Beavers senior cornerback who was able to contain Cal’s Chad Hansen to 24 yards receiving on Saturday. Decoud has really grown into one of the top cover corners in the nation. Bright Ugwoegbu may only be a sophomore, but he has become one of the Beavers most active linebackers and leads the team in tackles for loss. Caleb Saulo is a senior linebacker who leads the team in tackles. Senior safety Devin Chappell has also had a solid season so far.
Everyone knows that Gary Andersen used to coach under Kyle Whittingham. Does he approach this game as a rivalry? Is he extra motivated to throw new wrinkles in to trip up the Utes?
I think Andersen would be the first to tell you that this is just another big game in the PAC 12, but I do think this one means more to him and I do expect him to do his best to get the team fired up and ready, which includes some wrinkles. I expect a very good chess match on Saturday between Whittingham and Andersen.
What is your prediction for the game, including the final score?
Predictions are so tough with this team, especially after their first PAC 12 win under Andersen last week. Will that motivate them to come out ‘guns blazing’ or will some of the struggles we’ve seen earlier in the season creep back in? Big question marks as to what team shows up.
Honestly there has been so much inconsistency this season, it makes it nearly impossible to predict. Last week I picked Cal 48-14 and we saw how that went. That being said, Oregon State always seems to play Utah tough and this is most likely going to be a game determined by who can run the ball with more success as the weather sounds like it will be downright dreadful.
I’m going to go with Utah winning a close one, 24-18.