Back in August, we predicted the Oregon State Beavers would go 4-8 this football season, and through four games, our predictions have been perfect. The Beavers beat Weber State and San Jose State, while losing to Michigan and Stanford. As the Oregon State squad gets a week off this Saturday for a bye, it’s time to review what’s gone right so far for the Beavers—and what’s gone wrong.
We have to start with quarterback Seth Collins, a true freshman. He’s played like a talented one, however, running for 306 yards and three touchdowns in four games (which includes the negative yardage from sacks, per NCAA rule). Yet we are often reminded of his inexperience, especially when it comes to throwing the ball. Collins has completed just 54.7 percent of his passes this season for only 581 yards on 95 attempts. He’s not able to get the ball downfield consistently, although he has done a good job limiting the errors: Collins has tossed just one interception, while throwing for five TDs.
Of the 10 offensive touchdowns for Oregon State through four games, Collins has eight of them. He is what makes the offense go, and when Collins’ inexperience shows, it slows down the whole offense. That has to change going forward, considering the presence of running back Storm Barrs-Woods in the backfield. With a 5.6 yards-per-carry average, the Beavers need to lean on the experience Barrs-Woods brings to the game. He also has a 16.3-yards-per-catch average as a receiver this season. He needs the ball more, especially when Collins is throwing.
Wideout Jordan Villamin has been effective when the ball is there for him: He has a 16.4 yards-per-catch average this season. The issue is getting him the ball more often, meaning Collins has to recognize when there is no room for him to run. He has to not take the whole game on his shoulders, especially when he has tools like Barrs-Woods and Villamin to utilize in Head Coach Gary Andersen’s offensive schemes. Once Collins learns how to spread the ball around more to his effective teammates, the Beavers offense has the potential to explode.
Defensively, the team needs to get off the field sooner. On average, the Oregon State squad has been on defense for 32:35 each game. This can be improved with Collins’ growth on offense, of course, but the defense can also step up and make bigger plays when needed. Right now, opponents are converting just 27 percent of their third-down opportunities against the Beavers, but that number comes with an explanation required: Michigan, for example, converted 6-of-13 chances against Oregon State and held the ball for 38:01 in that game. Likewise, Stanford converted 7-of-12 attempts on third down and held the ball for 34:35 in its win over the Beavers.
Against the big boys, Oregon State’s defense really needs to improve. Since all of the remaining schedule is full of Pac-12 opponents, the Beavers defense is going to be on the spot every week going forward. Over the next eight weeks, Oregon State will either grow up or shrink from the chance to do so. This will take all of Andersen’s coaching ability to keep this young team confident each week, regardless of the results.
We can take the chance here to re-assess our 4-8 prediction from earlier, based on the results so far:
- @ Arizona, October 10: The Wildcats haven’t beaten anyone decent yet, and they got blown out against UCLA. If this game was at Reser, maybe the Beavers could pull the upset. But Arizona’s offense will still confuzzle Oregon State’s defense. Still a loss.
- @ Washington State, October 17: The Cougars run a similar scheme to Arizona, and considering the defense’s issues, this might not be a win any more. It will depends Collins’ ability to keep the ball moving on offense, in truth. Let’s give the Beavers the benefit here. Still a win.
- Colorado, October 24: The Buffaloes lost to Hawaii. Enough said. Still a win.
- @ Utah, October 31: The Utes ran up the score on the Oregon Ducks last weekend. Still a loss.
- UCLA, November 7: Nothing has changed here. Still a loss.
- @ California, November 14: See Arizona game above. Still a loss.
- Washington, November 21: This game depends on Collins, too. The Huskies are nothing special this year, so maybe the Beavers can pull an upset at home. Now a win.
- @ Oregon, November 27: Nope, not until they prove they actually can do it. Still a loss.
There you have it. The Beavers will now go 5-7 this year.