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Oregon State Beavers Dam the PAC-12


Since the late 19th century, the Beavers of Oregon State have played the game of football from its primitive beginnings to the modern schemes we see today. And under head coach Jonathan Smith (2022 Co-PAC-12 Coach of the Year), OSU has gone 26-31. However, they have been on the uptick the last two seasons, posting a 17-9 record. And, against their arch-rival Oregon in the “Uncivil War,” they have won two out of the last three meetings.


Leave it to This Beaver to Tote the Rock

The Beavers' offense in 2023 will center around talented running back Damien Martinez. As a freshman last season, Martinez rushed for 982 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 6 yards per carry. That was good enough to rank fourth nationally among all freshmen and fourth in the PAC-12.


Martinez set a single-season school record when he rushed for over 100 yards in six consecutive games.

The three-star recruit from Lewisville, TX posted two games with multiple rushing touchdowns: 178 yards, 3 TDs (8-yard average) in a win vs Colorado, and 138 yards and 2 TDs in a road victory at Arizona State.


For his efforts, Martinez was named the PAC-12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and First Team All-PAC-12.


 

Something to Prove at Oregon State

Oregon State has its best quarterback “prospect” they have had in years with former Clemson QB DJ Uiagalelei arriving in Corvallis via the transfer portal. He comes with a beaver dam-sized chip on his shoulder to prove he is not a Jekyll and Hyde behind center.


But which version of DJ will the Beaver fans get?


The 2022 version:

  • 2521 passing yards

  • 22 TDs

  • 7 INTs

  • 61% comp. pct

  • 545 rushing yards

  • 7 TDs

DJ turned in a “respectable” season, but he faltered down the stretch. Against in-state rival South Carolina, DJ was 8 of 29 passing for 99 yards, 1 TD, and 1 INT in a 31-30 loss.


In the ACC Championship against North Carolina, DJ was a paltry 2 for 5 passing for 40 yards and 0 TDs. As a result, Dabo Swinney impersonated an usher and showed DJ to his seat…on the bench next to the waterboy.


DJ did not play in The Orange Bowl vs Tennessee.


But he still ranks in the Top Ten in several passing categories at Clemson, including pass attempts, completions, passing TDs (36), and passing yards (5,681).


Or…


Will Beaver fans get the 2021 version of DJ in which he only completed about half of his passes (55%), and some of those were to the other team (10 INTs)?


Then, there is the five-star high school phenom version of DJ. He was the number one quarterback prospect coming out of St. John Bosco High School in California. DJ was not old enough to vote or get into bars when he was named the National Offensive Player of the Year and a USA Today 1st Team All-American as an 11th grader.


In his high school career, DJ passed for 10,946 yards, 127 TDs, and only 11 INTs.

Oregon State Beavers Hold the Line

Four of five starters return on the offensive line to block for and create big wide running lanes for Martinez, a half-ton of pancake-blocking manpower that averages 300 pounds per man-Henell Bloomfield (6'4, 306), Josh Gray (6'4, 288), Taliese Fuaga (6'6, 326), and Jake Levengood (6'4, 288). This unit allowed just 14 sacks all season, good enough for a tie for 14th in the FBS.


In Defense of Oregon State

The Beavers return just five starters across all three levels of the defense, but they're good. A year ago, they were a Top 20 unit in rushing defense (108 yards/game) and scoring defense (20 points/game). But, OSU lost leading tackler LB Omar Speights and his 300+ career tackles to the transfer portal and LSU.


Here are the returning starters:


FS KitanOladapo: 81 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 6 pass breakups.

LB Josh McCartan: 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 3 pass breakups.

DB Ryan Cooper: 3 INTs, 45 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 10 pass breakups.

DE Sione Lolohea: 33 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.

DT James Rawls: 30 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble.

The Schedule

The Beavers kick off the 2023 season on the road at San Jose State on September 3rd. They host San Diego State (September 16th), Utah (September 29th), UCLA (October 14th), Stanford (November 11th), and Washington (September 18th). Their most challenging road game is Oregon on November 24th.


I see the Beavers going 9-3, with losses to Utah, Washington, and Oregon.


For at least this year, Oregon State will play in a very talented PAC-12. In 2024 and beyond, who knows?




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