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A Q&A with Oregon State expert Angie Machado, as Cougars prepare to head to Corvallis

WE WANTED THE inside scoop from the Oregon State side for when Washington State travels to Corvallis on Saturday (7:45 pm, ESPN 2). And publisher Angie Machado didn't disappoint. For any who haven’t seen Oregon State all that much this season, what’s the QB situation headed into the WSU game?  Strengths? Weaknesses? 

Machado: The Beavers will be starting sophomore Marcus McMaryion (pictured above) the third-string quarterback who was quickly elevated to starter after both Darell Garretson and Conor Blount went down with injuries two weeks ago against Utah.  This will be McMaryion’s third career start. He started the 2015 Civil War and then last week at Washington. 

McMaryion has shown to be an adequate passer and managed the game pretty well after the first quarter last week. 

Look for him to throw intermediate passes and try to go deep occasionally, but the Beaver run game has been pretty consistent the past few weeks, so he will have that to work with as well. What’s the injury situation for OSU as it prepares to host WSU, and which Beaver team do you see showing up against the Cougs: the team that barely lost to Utah and Boise State and knocked off Cal … or the team that got blown out by UW and Colorado?

Machado: The Beavers have had a slew of injuries this season that continue to mount. 

Defensively, the Beavers will be without linebacker Titus Failauga, and cornerbacks Dwayne Williams and Jay Irvine while linebacker Joah Robinett and cornerback Treston Decoud are questionable.  Offensively the Beavers will be without starting quarterback Darell Garretson. Center Yanni Demogerontas and running back Ryan Nall are questionable heading into Saturday.

The struggles that the Beavers have had this year are really two fold. Early in the year the offensive line struggled.  Run lanes weren’t opening up and Garretson was running for his life.  

And the Beavers have really struggled early in games, and have found themselves dug deep into holes that they can’t get out of.  So far this season opponents have outscored the Beavers 138-67 in the first half, last week at Washington, the Huskies went into the locker room at halftime with a 31-0 lead, which is tough to bounce back from, especially for  a youthful team. What is the single-most important matchup on offense, and defense, in your mind for Cougs-Beavs -- the ones that on paper should have the most impact on which teams gets the W. Or is it something to do with special teams?

Machado: For the Beaver offense, the offensive line will need to get a push and be productive in both pass protection and run blocking. Against the high flying Cougars, the Beavers are going to need to put points on the board and that starts up front. It sounds so simplistic but as I noted above, the Beavers have struggled to put points on the board and especially in the first half -- so the play of the offensive line is crucial if the Beavs hope to send Washington State back to Pullman with a loss.

Defensively, the Beavers have struggled to create much of a pass rush all season but I see it as important against Luke Falk and the Cougs.  What has struck me with Washington State this year is the fact that they have a good run game too.  The Beavers will have to be careful not to blitz too many players and get bit by the Cougars run game -- but putting Falk under some pressure will be important for the Beaver defense. Oregon State and Washington State appear to be going after more of the same recruits this cycle, potentially setting up more recruiting battles between the two schools down the stretch. Give us a thumbnail sketch of the OSU recruiting process, and your take on Gary Andersen’s 2017 class to date.

Machado: The Beavers continue the rebuild under Coach Gary Andersen, who is looking to fill the roster with players to fit his system.  The Beavers are looking for physical defenders with speed and length while offensively the Beavers are looking for offensive linemen and additional speed at wide receiver. 

Over the past month, we’ve seen the coaches shift their focus somewhat to top level prep prospects and junior college players (defensive backs and offensive linemen) who can come in and play immediately.

They are having success on the recruiting trail, but everyone knows that the Beavers will be in for a battle for the top players right up until signing day. What's your prediction?  Write as much as you'd like for our readers on how you see this WSU-OSU battle in Corvallis playing out On Saturday.

Machado: This is a tough one to predict, especially since the only common opponent that the Beavs and Cougs share to date is Boise State and that was at the  beginning of the season.  The Beavs have been very inconsistent so that makes a prediction tough as well. 

They have been playing better however and it looks like No. 2 running back, Artavis Pierce is probable for Saturday.   That would give the Beavers Pierce and No. 3 back Tim Cook - who was productive against Washington last week.

The Beavers, while 2-5, have also faced the toughest part of their schedule.  OSU opponents are a combined 38-13 while WSU's opponents are 31-21 over the same span. 

Being at home helps the Beavers, but the experience and maturity factor lean toward the Cougs.  The wildcard in all of this: the fact that the Beavers have played some physical football against some great opponents, and will be ready for the fight, unlike past years.

I really could see the Beavers surprising the Cougars, but I’ll go with the experience on this one, with the Cougars winning 31-28.

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