Kerry Says: Injuries aside, OSU might have upset chances next two games
Though it's early in the season, Oregon State's bye week couldn't come at a better time.
The did-not-play-because-of-injury slate for last Saturday's 45-7 bludgeoning of Cal Poly was long, with at least seven would-be starters on the shelf. And that's not including defensive tackle Jeromy Reichner (knee) and linebackers Addison Gumbs (knee) and Andrzej Hughes-Murray (foot), all out, or likely out, for the year.
Now the Beavers have two weeks to heal up, rest and prepare for the Stanford game Sept. 28 at Reser Stadium.
The Cardinal are 1-2 and have been drilled in successive weeks by Southern Cal (45-20) and Central Florida (45-27), both games on the road. Stanford was ranked 23rd after beating Northwestern 17-7 in its opener, but the results have been decidedly un-Stanford-like since then. The Cardinal fell behind 21-0 to UCF in the first quarter and never recovered.
Oregon State and Stanford, incidentally, are the only 1-2 teams in the Pac-12. Every other team is at least 2-1 except UCLA, which is 0-3.
Stanford plays host to Oregon on Saturday, and the Beavers wouldn't mind if their in-state rival beat up the Cardinal a little to soften them up for their Corvallis gig. The Cardinal already have lost starting left tackle Walker Little for the season to a knee injury in the opener. They are starting freshmen at both offensive tackle positions.
Senior quarterback K.J. Costello, returning after missing the USC game with a concussion, was 21 for 44 for 199 yards, one TD and one interception. UCF amassed 545 yards total offense and 347 yards passing. The Cardinal had no sacks.
The Beavers figure they owe the Cardinal one. The last time the teams squared off in Corvallis in 2017, Stanford came in ranked No. 20 nationally and as 22-point favorites. The Cardinal escaped with a 15-14 win when JJ Arcega-Whiteside caught a 3-yard TD pass over OSU cornerback Shawn Wilson in the corner of the end zone with 20 seconds left.
Oregon State led 14-9 when Ryan Nall fumbled on the Beavers' 43 with 2:30 to play and with the Beavers needing just one more first down to wrap up the victory in their second game under interim coach Cory Hall. The Beavers held Stanford to 12 first downs and 222 yards.
The Beavers will be in a positive state of mind after checking all the boxes in their victory over Cal Poly despite missing the likes of running back Jermar Jefferson (foot), receivers Trevon Bradford (foot) and Tyjon Lindsey (foot), center Nate Eldridge (ankle), defensive tackles Simon Sandberg (knee) and Jordan Whittley (knee), linebacker Matthew Tago (knee) and safeties David Morris (foot) and Jeffrey Manning (foot). An early guess is that Jefferson, Lindsey and Whittley will return for the Stanford game.
Bradford, Sandberg and Manning have yet to play this year. Bradford, OSU's No. 2 receiver a year ago, has stepped up his activity in practice and could make his debut against the Cardinal. That would be an important weapon as the Beavers' offense tries not to be too dependent on Isaiah Hodgins, who leads the Pac-12 in receiving yardage (347) and receiving TDs (five) and is tied for the lead in receptions (23).
One player who might get more of an opportunity at receiver for OSU is redshirt freshman Jesiah Irish, who looked good in punt-return duty, running one back 58 yards to the Cal Poly 2, though it was negated by penalty. Junior Champ Flemings had a breakout game against the Mustangs, catching five passes for 142 yards, including TDs of 47 and 75 yards, along with a 66-yard kickoff return.
Oregon State's defense did a solid job keeping Cal Poly's vaunted triple-option system under control, holding the Mustangs to 315 yards. Stanford prefers a ground attack, too, in its pro-style offense, but ran only 23 times and threw 49 passes while in catch-up mode against UCF.
Suddenly, Oregon State's next two games — against Stanford and at UCLA on Oct. 5 — seem winnable. Whether the Beavers can make that happen, of course, remains to be seen.
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