The USC Trojans take on the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis this Saturday in another must-win match-up for USC. Unlike years past, defeating Oregon State might not be so easy, especially now that they have a tremendous amount of momentum after a comeback thriller versus Colorado. To get a sense of how this Beaver team is feeling we spoke with Joe Londergan of SB Nation’s OSU site Building The Dam.
1. Quarterback Jake Luton came off the bench and replaced Jack Colletto last week, which lead to a historic comeback win against Colorado. The Beavers have options at quarterback with Luton, Colletto, and Conor Blount who has started previously. Who was the starter coming our of spring camp? Who do you think should get the go on Saturday?
Well, right up until the end of fall camp, we didn’t really have a definitive starter at quarterback. Then at the start of the year, head coach Jonathan Smith went with Luton, who unfortunately suffered a concussion in Week 1 and then an ankle injury shortly after coming back, which is why we haven’t seen too much of him. But now that he is healthy, he should definitely be the starter. While he’s not as mobile as Blount and maybe not as...um....durable (?) as Colletto, he’s absolutely the best passer in the quarterback room. With the quality wideouts that are on this roster like Isaiah Hodgins, Trevon Bradford, and Timmy Hernandez, putting anybody who isn’t the best passer out on the field is kind of a waste in my eyes.
2. What are some keys to the game for OSU?
One of our writers and a former Beaver football player Justin Sattelmaier actually does a “keys to the game” post every week that you should check out here. But I think the biggest thing is playing solid defense and pass protection. If they can let the pass game develop, the run game has proven that it can work itself out, for the most part, creating a good balance on that side of the ball. But defensively, if they play the way they did in the second half of the Colorado game all night, that’s a good start.
3. What are some player matchups that you can’t wait to see on Saturday?
All the ones between Oregon State’s defensive line and USC’s offensive line. Pass rush is something coach Smith has been emphasizing as an area that needs improvement. Now that they have some positive momentum going, it will be interesting to see if those guys in the trenches can play to their full potential.
4. OSU is No. 3 in the nation on fourth down conversions, a very impressive 19 of 23. What allows them to be so effective on fourth down?
I’m pretty sure OSU is in the top five in FBS in fourth down attempts (or somewhere in that area) and I think that just comes from this need to put points on the board. Based on how most of this year has gone, there’s not much reason to think that the defense are going to be able to get it done with their backs against the wall, so you need to take every chance you get to get the ball into the end zone and keep pace with some of these offenses they have faced. Also, when your feature back is averaging six yards per carry, that’s a reason to go for a few of those I think.
5. Give us a score prediction?
I’m not brave enough to pick Oregon State here. I think USC wins this one. Let’s say 31-21.
Check out the Q&A we did with Joe over on Building The Dam as well!