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Offense: Most people don’t realize how good the Beavers have been on offense in Coach Jonathan Smith’s three years in Corvallis. They have been able to score points but in 2021 they have a QB issue to resolve before we can tell how good they can be. Chance Nolan replaced Tristan Gebbia against Oregon and led the Beavers to an upset win over the hated Ducks. Gebbia sat out all spring with injuries so you would expect that Nolan has the advantage when preseason practice starts. They also have to replace three-year starting running back Jermar Jefferson. B.J.Baylor appears to have the inside track. The strength of the offense is the offensive line with pro prospects Nathan Eldridge and Joshua Gray.
Defense: While the offense has been good, the defense has just been mediocre. Two linebackers Omar Speights and Andrzej Hughes-Murray return two anchor the defense. They must improve upfront as the Beavers were gashed for 5.6 yards per carry on the ground in 2020. There is experience with ends Simon Sandberg and Isaac Hughes. All four secondary starters from last year are back and hopefully will benefit from the experience of last year. Improvement needs to be made on this side of the ball.
9/4 at Purdue
The non-con schedule gives the Beavers an opportunity to start the season 3-0. The game at Purdue is winnable and they need to beat Hawaii at home. If they don’t beat Idaho then they are headed for a disaster. A 2-1 start is acceptable; anything will be a disappointment.
9/25 at USC
10/9 at Washington State
10/30 at California
11/6 at Colorado
11/20 Arizona Statte
11/27 at Oregon
The schedule makers were not kind to the Beavers. They play the three favorites from the South Division as well as having to travel to Oregon from the North. Home games against Washington, Utah, Stanford, and Arizona State are all very difficult. If they could win 2 of those it would be fantastic, one would be good, and it is entirely likely they will lose them all. Road games at Washington State, California, and Colorado are winnable and it would be nice if those games were in Corvallis. They ain’t winning at USC and not likely in Eugene.
Summary: This could be tough year for Oregon State. The conference schedule might be too difficult to navigate through. They will need a much improved defense and a QB has to emerge. If they can win the first three games on the non-conference schedule it would really help their overall record.
Predicted Finish: 7th place in the North Division
Overall Record: 3-9
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