KERRY SAYS: First road win at USC since 1960?
Oregon State has so many things it needs to fix, winning is probably not an option Saturday when it visits 14th-ranked Southern Cal.
But that's not unusual. The Beavers' last road win against USC came in 1960, Terry Baker's sophomore season. They've visited 23 times since then without a "W." Solar eclipses happen more often.
Southern Cal is a 32-point favorite this time, a spread due more to the Beavers' ineptitude than the Trojans' formidability. They lost 30-27 at Washington State last Saturday and have a slew of injuries to starters and key reserves.
"Hell," snorts OSU coach Gary Andersen, "their backups could start at most places. They're USC."
That doesn't mean Andersen, his coaching staff and his players are intending to turtle and let the Trojans roll over them to victory Saturday.
OSU's defense showed signs of emerging in last Saturday's 42-7 loss to Washington, a game in which the Huskies led 7-0 at halftime.
Offense is a different story. With starting QB Jake Luton out with a spine injury, Darell Garretson threw for only 74 yards. "And we couldn't run the damn ball an inch," fumes Andersen.
"Darell was only average," the third-year coach says. "He can play a lot better. But we have to help him some, too. We dropped four or five passes. We need to throw the ball downfield more, but Darell has to be given some time to throw."
Talented freshman Isaiah Hodgins, who entered the Washington game as Oregon State's leading receiver, didn't play a down, but Andersen says he wasn't suspended. Jason Phillips, the Beavers' passing game coordinator and receivers coach, chose to use primarily Jordan Villamin and Seth Collins as wideouts, often with a tight end and two running backs. Villamin caught one pass for five yards, dropping several; Collins had two balls thrown to him, catching neither.
"Coach Phillips felt 100 percent that those were the guys we needed to play (against the UW defense)," Andersen says. "That will change as we go week to week."
Timmy Hernandez and Trevon Bradford — surely behind Hodgins on the depth chart at receiver — did play against Washington. Andersen would do well to keep a closer handle on what his offensive coaches are employing if they can't do it better than they did against the Huskies.
The Trojans aren't quite as good as the Huskies, but they're in the same league.
"I don't think they're as tough, not quite as physical," Andersen says. "But they're more skilled, more athletic — just a very good, very gifted, well-coached team. They're SC. That's what they are."
USC quarterback Sam Darnold threw for only 164 yards against Washington State, a career low. But Andersen holds him in high regard.
"He's a well-rounded quarterback, no doubt," he says. "He's a big kid, hard to sack, who can throw all the balls, and you have to deal with his athleticism. He makes some big plays out of the pocket."
Andersen says there will be no quit in his players.
"It's important that these kids continue to fight and battle," he says. "It's hard. I get it. But they will. This crew wants to fight. They're gaining ground. As hard as it is to see at this point, they're working to make some things happen in a positive way. We're going to get through all of this."
The Beavers will be without starting cornerback Xavier Crawford (back), but have hopes that the other players dinged up against Washington — running backs Ryan Nall (ankle) and Artavis Pierce (head), defensive end Paisa Savea (ankle) and receiver Trevon Bradford (knee) — will be able to go against the Trojans.
It will matter, but not enough to produce the Beavers' first win in 57 years in the Coliseum.
THE PICK: Southern Cal 38, Oregon State 10