Utah will take on the Beavers of Oregon State on Saturday in weather conditions that are predicted to be similar to a category 3 hurricane. It’s going to be wet, and it’s going to be windy, as the the remnants of typhoon Songda pass through Corvallis and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. These types of weather conditions do not favor passing the ball, which is a positive for Oregon State, as their offensive strength is clearly running the ball.
The Beavers struggle on offense averaging 27.4 points per game, ranking them 9th in scoring offense in the Pac-12. Through the air, the Beavers are sub par, ranking last in the Pac-12, passing for only 155.2 yards per game. Oregon State’s quarterbacks have combined for only 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions and have struggled to throw the ball down field.
Running the ball, the Beavers are much better, averaging 206.2 yards rushing per game. The Beavers average 5.31 yards per carry and have scored 11 times on the ground this season. It’s not an elite rushing unit, but it has been effective, ranking 4th in the Pac-12 in most rushing categories. Their biggest game running the ball came last week, when the Beavers ran for 474 yards and 6 touchdowns against Cal. On Saturday they will face a considerably tougher run defense in Utah.
Darell Garretson (6-0, 209 lbs.) is the starting quarterback for the Beavers. Garretson’s name might sound familiar because he started his collegiate career up in Logan where he filled in for an injured Chuckie Keeton at Utah State in 2013 and 2014. He transferred to Oregon State when Gary Anderson moved to Corvallis, and took over the starting job this season after sitting out last year.
Garretson has struggled with accuracy throwing the ball downfield this season with only 5 completions over 25 yards. He is completing 54.8% of his passes with 3 touch downs and 3 interceptions. It should be noted all 3 of Garrettson’s touchdowns came in the season opener against Minnesota. Since then, he has not thrown for a touchdown and has been intercepted 3 times and has only averaged 3.4 yards per completion in the past 3 games.
Utah should keep an eye on Garrettson running the ball, he ran for 105 yards on 10 carriers and 2 touchdowns (including the game winner) last week against Cal.
At running back Ryan Nall (6-1, 234 lbs.) is the go to guy for Oregon State. Nall runs with power and leads the team with 432 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns while averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Against Cal last week, Nall had his best game of the season, exploding for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 14 carries. One issue for Nall against the Utes is he appears to be a bit banged up and was seen walking around in a boot this week.
Whether or not Nall is able to go, Utah can expect to see a good amount of freshman Artavis Pierce (5-11, 201 lbs.) with 202 yards rushing and 1 touchdown. Pierce is a change of pace from Nall, providing speed and quickness to the run game.
With the lack of an effective passing game this season, the Oregon State receivers haven’t really had an opportunity to stand out. The two you need to keep an eye on are sophomore Seth Collins (6-3, 188 lbs.) and Victor Bolden (5-9, 183 lbs.)
Collins spent a good portion of last season as the Beavers starting quarterback before moving to receiver this season. So far this year he leads the Beavers with 24 catches for 268 yards but no touchdowns. Bolden has 19 catches for 172 yards and 1 touchdown. Bolden is a speedster and should see some carries in the run game as well. Oregon State offensive coordinator Dave Baldwin like to run the fly sweep with Bolden, and has had success, with Bolden having 161 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Utah’s achilles heel this season on defense has been the big play. Against both Cal and Arizona the Utah secondary has given up deep passes for touchdowns. This week it shouldn’t be a problem. Garrettson hasn’t shown the ability to accurately throw downfield this season and the weather will not be conducive to throwing deep anyway. In the ground game, Utah is always tough to run against and with Lowell Lotulelei back, and Nall banged up a bit, it will be a tough challenge for Oregon State to run effectively on the Utes in what should be a pretty one dimensional offense. Utah has better players on both lines of scrimmage and in a game that will likely come down to who can move the ball the best on the ground, Utah has the advantage.