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Items on the OSU defense, running backs, Jack Colletto, QB Tristan Gebbia and more.

COURTESY PHOTO: KARL MAASDAM/OSU - Oregon State will be counting on a big season from running back Jermar Jefferson.It'll be Washington State game prep week starting Monday, Nov. 2. So Oregon State has another week to determine who plays and what needs work and how the Beavers feel about their team.

If line of scrimmage play determines winning and losing, it'll still be a bit of an unknown heading into the Nov. 7 game against the Cougars at Reser Stadium.

The offensive line needs to replace three starters, but experience returns with Brandon Kipper and others.

"I think we're more confident, another year in the system," Kipper said. "It's a more confident O-line in our assignments, and we have to execute fundamentals and technique."

The defensive line might be minus Jordan Whittley, but the likes of Simon Sandberg and Isaac Hodgins have given the Beavers confidence that the unit will hold its own and pave the way for the linebackers and outside rushers.

"We're feeling good about (depth)," Hodgins said.

And the big boys have been making each other better in practice.

Said Hodgins of the O-line "We always talk about it: If they don't come to play, we gotta beat them up, so they step up," and vice versa.

Said Kipper: "As a whole, our D-line and defensive scheme has got a much better pass rush, and that's great for us to work on, it has forced us to get great at pass protections."

• As far as run game, running back Jermar Jefferson continues to impress, as he and presumptive starting quarterback Tristan Gebbia enjoyed standout days in last Saturday's scrimmage. (So did rookie receiver Zeriah Beason, the best freshman position player, so far).

While Jefferson will get the opportunity to chase 1,000 yards again — he had 1,380 in his 2018 freshman season before falling to 685 in an injury-riddled 2019 — look for B.J. Baylor to be 1B to Jefferson's 1A at times.

Indications are it'll be a lot like Artavis Pierce and Jefferson last year.

• Coach Jonathan Smith has been impressed with Jack Colletto's transition from backup quarterback (utilized in Wildcat situations) to linebacker.

"He's a good-sized kid who can run," Smith said of the Camas High (Washington) product. "We're confident he can compete on special teams. He's one of the heavier linebackers at 240 (pounds). He's had a great camp. You'll see him a lot.

"He had a vision (for position switch), and we're on board with it, and it's played out well."

• On special teams, Smith said punter Caleb Lightbourn (another Camas kid) "has been booming the ball," and placekicker Everett Hayes impressed in the scrimmages.

• Smith describes Chance Nolan, the potential backup quarterback, as "like a point guard out there, distributing the ball, sees (the field) well. He can move his feet, extend the play. He's really well-liked on this team, respected for his work ethic."

• Outside linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. feels his game "will always" need work, namely with footwork, hand placement and staying lower while rushing. By gaining weight, Rashed Jr. believes "I can hold the edge more. I don't see myself losing any speed."

He wants wins over personal success and wants to "be a leader on the team and be a better defense."

• On Beason, Smith said: "Beason has a chance to be in the rotation, receiver-wise, and be out there as a freshman," because of his ability "physically and mentally, his understanding of the offense, nuance in route running, strong hands. He doesn't look young out there."


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