• John Skinner

2017 Oregon State Preview

Updated: Aug 27, 2018

Edoga’s injuries handicap the offense- Junior Chuma Edoga is emerging as one of the best tackles in the country and the minute he exited the games against both Texas and Washington State, the offense struggled.  The media has under-reported his importance to SC’s offensive success.  His presence and ability to anchor the offensive line is hugely important to the success of the running game. Edoga is expected to miss the Oregon State game with a leg injury but hopeful for a return against Utah.

Inability to gain three yards in three plays doomed SC- With the Trojans up 14-10, and the ball on the 3-yard line after Uchenna Nwusu’s acrobatic interception, a touchdown puts SC up 21-10, and more importantly, claim full momentum in a hostile road environment.  Instead, SC goes out of the shotgun near the goal-line and tries to block eight in the box with only six on a running play.  They try and isolate freshman tight-end Josh Falo on a passing play but he hasn’t caught a ball all year and then on third down SC ran the ball literally right where the Cougars had a 2 to 1 advantage on SC’s blockers.  Washington State holding SC to a field goal put the momentum on the Cougars side and demoralized the SC offense.

Red-zone efficiency must improve- Compared to last season, SC is headed in the opposite direction when it comes to one of the most important offensive statistics-red-zone efficiency (converting touchdowns inside the opponents 20 yard-line). From the moment Darnold took over as the starter last season, Darnold was the best quarterback statistically in the nation when it came to red-zone offense. Through five games this season, only 13 of 21 trips inside the red-zone have resulted in touchdowns, less than a 62% ratio that ranks 64th out of 130 FBS teams.

Hard to play QB when you can’t set your feet and have inconsistent receivers-  A pro scout from an AFC West team told me this week- “It is tough to be a great QB when 75% of your throws are rushed and receivers don’t break-off routes correctly, etc.  Sam has always thrown off his back-foot more than you would like to see but now it is exasperated.  It is also a massive mental challenge to make tough throws when you don’t have confidence in guys around you. It reminds me of what Rosen over at UCLA dealt with last season before his injury…Until Darnold gets healthy guys back or the depth develops well, it is going to be a struggle…Despite Darnold’s struggles, SC is probably 1-4 or 2-3 without him.”

Pro Scout on Darnold going pro after this season and what he is hearing: “We prefer franchise type quarterbacks starting at least 2.5 years in college. Most GM’s and evaluators will tell you that.  You want to see a progression in leadership and skill development before making a substantial investment in a franchise QB. It would really help Sam’s long-term development to stick around another year and nail down a quicker release from his footwork through his release point. However, his physical attributes and feel for the game are rare and that makes him high to mid-high 1st rounder without that extra year.  We are hearing he probably comes out due to some financial limitations on the home front and he’s a little shaken at the team’s recent offensive performance, but a lot can happen in the next few months to sway him to stick around. This is shaping up to be a loaded QB class and he is one guy who could take a bigger progressive step with more experience.”

Prep for Oregon State- This is as close to a bye week as SC will get. They are 34 point favorites against the 1-4 Beavers.  However, Oregon State only trailed #6 ranked Washington 7-0 at halftime before losing 42-7 and only trailed Washington State 28-16 well into the third quarter before fading down the stretch. In their four losses they’ve been outscored 200-71, including being outscored 147-49 in the second half this year.

The Beavers will be without their top QB Jake Luton who is out with a back injury. Back-up Darell Garretson only had 94 yards passing against Washington. The top offensive threat is RB Ryan Nall but he is dealing with an ankle injury and was held to just 18 yards rushing vs. Washington.

Defensively, they are adept at rushing the passer and will look to harass Darnold and create turnovers. However, they are one of the worst FBS teams in the nation and are at or close to last in every major statistical category in the Pac-12   SC should have plenty of opportunities to create big plays offensively and force turnovers.

Bottom Line- After a strong week of practice, SC should be able to handily defeat the Beavers and give much needed rest to banged-up players in the second half.

Betting Guide- Two of the worst bets in college football are SC (1-4 ATS) and Oregon State (0-5 ATS).  SC opened a 31 point favorite and it was quickly pushed to 34.5 by the betting public.  The Beavers only victory on the year was a three-point win over Portland State despite entering the game as a 26.5-point favorite.  SC is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games in the conference while Oregon State is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games in Week 6.  The total has gone under in Oregon State’s last three games against SC.

Geller’s Take vs. Oregon State “Next Man Up” spotlight- During last Friday night’s loss to the Washington State Cougars, the Trojans most experienced offensive lineman, senior right-guard Viane Talamaivao suffered a season ending injury with a torn pectoral muscle and will be out for the remainder of the season. Tackle Chuma Edoga is also banged up, but has not been completely ruled out for the game against the Beavers.  It will likely be freshman Andrew Vorhees who will start at right tackle—and be attributed with this week’s “next man up” spotlight—in Talamaivao’s absence, or possibly in place of Edoga if he sits. The four-star true freshman graduated high school early and participated in spring practice.  When fall camp rolled around, Voorhees passed up more experienced lineman with his toughness and ability to pick up the playbook faster than most.  Oregon State held the sixth ranked Washington Huskies to 7 points in the first half last week and with the blueprint to stop Sam Darnold out, that being to attack the banged up offensive line and put him under pressure, expect the Beavers to send numerous blitz packages and attempt to confuse the youth and inexperience on the USC offensive line.  Vorhees will need to play well in order for the Trojans to sustain drives.

Quick-hitters- .

*Freshman running back Stephen Carr has not practiced this week and is most likely out for Oregon State.

*SC is hoping to have tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe and linebacker Porter Gustin back by the Notre Dame game.

*Left Tackle Toa Lobendahn and wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. are expected to play against Oregon State.

*SC has 16 sacks this season, including 13 in the past three games. . .the total ranks ninth in the country.

* A pair of walk-on specialists--true freshman Placekicker Chase McGrath and Punter Reid Budrovich--are in the national Top 20 in field goal percentage and punting, respectively.

*SC’s defense ranks 116th nationally in number of plays of 20-or-more yards allowed.

Carol Skinner Memorial tid-bit: The Washington State game was the first time since 1982 that SC did not complete a pass to a running back or tight end.