Oregon State Beavers: CFN College Football Preview 2021

·11 min read

College Football News Preview 2021: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the Oregon State football season with what you need to know.

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– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Oregon State Schedule Analysis
– Oregon State Previews
2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015

2020 Record: 2-3 overall, 2-3 in Pac-12
Head Coach: Jonathan Smith, 4th year, 9-20
2020 CFN Final Ranking: 51
2020 CFN Preview Ranking: 54
2019 CFN Final Ranking: 77

Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Offense

For a seven game season and a 2-5 record, Oregon State’s offense had its moments. Its ground game rumbled all over Oregon, it was terrifically balanced over the last two losses to Stanford and Arizona State, and to be harsh about it, most of the issues were on the other side of the ball.

The O, though, wasn’t great at keeping the chains moving, the passing game wasn’t efficient enough and there weren’t enough downfield plays, and it was a bit too reliant on RB Jermar Jefferson, who’s now trying to be a Detroit Lion. So now …

The ground game has options at tailback, but Jefferson was outstanding over the last three seasons. Deshaun Fenwick is a 6-2, 226-pound blaster who comes in from South Carolina and should be a factor right out of the gate. Combine him with 208-pound junior BJ Baylor – who ran for 124 yards and a score last season – and the backs should be okay as long as the front five can continue to be solid.

The Beavers got a good year out of the line that led the way for close to 200 rushing yards per game and finished 13th in the nation in fewest tackles for loss. All five starters are expected to be back around All-Pac-12 center Nathan Eldridge and Second Team All-Pac-12 left tackle Joshua Gray.

Tristan Gebbia led the team with 824 passing yards and three touchdowns with three picks in just four games before suffering a hamstring injury. It’s still his gig to lose, but he doesn’t add anything to the ground game and he’s going to have to battle to hold off a few other options.

Chance Nolan stepped in and threw a team-high six touchdown passes and can run a bit, but on the way is Sam Noyer – Colorado’s starting quarterback and leading passer last season. The Second Team All-Pac-12 performer has got the experience, the running ability, and the 6-4, 220-pound size to make a big push.

Leading receiver Trevon Bradford returns after catching 24 passes for 239 yards and a score, but they grabs didn’t really go anywhere – he averaged under ten yards per catch.

TE Teagan Quitoriano is a good receiver, and junior Tyjon Lindsey – the top deep threat – and second-year freshman Zeriah Beason are back after tying for the team lead with three touchdown passes.

– What You Need To Know: Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Oregon State Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Defense

Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Defense

The defense returns most of the main parts and should get back seven starters, but there’s a ton of work to do after allowing 442 yards and 33 points per game. The pass defense struggled, the run defense was a disaster, there weren’t enough takeaways, and the pass rush was among the worst in America. Other than that, everything was great.

The inside linebackers made a ton of tackles, but they need more help. Avery Roberts and Omar Speights are good-sized 235ish pounders who combined for 132 tackles and did what they could to get into the backfield.

There’s size on the outside – 244-pound Andrzej Hughes-Murray only made one sack, but he was second on the team with four tackles for loss – and 6-6, 246-pound Riley Sharp has pass rushing upside.

All the main parts are back up front around 6-0, 274-pound junior Isaac Hodgins at one end. He plays like a smallish tackle with the quickness to do more to get behind the line. The raw bulk, though, is missing from the front three without any 300-pounders.

No pass rush equals mediocre pass coverage – usually. The secondary will rotate in a slew of parts with junior S Jaydon Grant the best of the bunch – making 29 stops with two picks – and second-year freshman Alex Austin a good-looking corner who’ll hold down one spot. There’s upside with this bunch, but they need help.

– What You Need To Know: Offense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Oregon State Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Top Players

Best Oregon State Beavers Offensive Player

C Nathan Eldridge, Sr.
Yeah, it might seem boring to have an offensive lineman as the team’s best player, but he’s a good one.

The 6-4, 292-pound former Arizona Wildcat was a First Team All-Pac-12 leader for one of the league’s better lines. Several Beaver blockers will be in the mix for all-star honors, but Eldridge is the longtime veteran quarterback up front and a blaster of a run blocker.

2. OT Joshua Gray, RFr.
3. TE Teagan Quitoriano, Jr.
4. OG Nous Keobounnam, Sr.
5. OT Brandon Kipper, Jr.


Oregon State Football Schedule 2021, Analysis

Best Oregon State Beavers Defensive Player

LB Avery Roberts, Jr.
After starting his career at Nebraska, the 6-1, 233-pounder sat out a year, got in on the fun as a sophomore in 2019, and he instantly made a huge impact with 83 tackles and two sacks in what should’ve been an All-Pac-12 season.

Last year he got the First Team All-Pac-12 honors with a team-high 69 tackles with three tackles for loss. He’s a big hitter, isn’t bad at getting behind the line, and along with Omar Speights, the Beavers have a nasty 1-2 punch on the inside.

2. DE Isaac Hodgins, Jr.
3. LB Omar Speights, Soph.
4. S Jaydon Grant, Jr.
5. CB Alex Austin, RFr.

Top Incoming Oregon State Beavers Transfer

RB Deshaun Fenwick, Soph.
A solid recruit for South Carolina, the 6-2, 226-pounder wasn’t a bad part of the rotation with 523 yards and two touchdowns – averaging 5.4 yards per carry – over his three years. He turned into a bit of a pass catcher last season with 14 grabs, but his upside is as a tough runner who can tear off yards in chunks.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Keys To The Season
What Will Happen, Win Total Prediction
Oregon State Schedule Analysis

NEXT: Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: Keys To The Season

Oregon State Beavers Biggest Key: Offense

The big plays for the passing game have to return. The Beavers struggled with the air attack during the mid-2010s with too many misfires, too much inconsistency, and without any downfield pop.

Things got better for a little while, but last year the O averaged just 6.3 yards per pass and hit 58% between Tristan Gebbia and Chance Nolan.

The quarterbacks will get the protection behind the veteran line, and the receivers have to do more when they get the ball in their hands. Getting to 200 receiving yards isn’t the problem – the Beavers did that time and again.

Dinking and dunking didn’t help with the time of possession battle and certainly didn’t scare secondaries.That has to change.

Oregon State Beavers Biggest Key: Defense

Be more dangerous in the backfield. It all ties together.

The run defense wasn’t anything great, offenses had too many easy third down chances, there wasn’t any pass rush, teams kept converting those easy third down chances to own the clock, and it was all rough for the Beaver D.

Start, though, with the inability to get behind the line.

The 2019 Beaver defense was a terror. Starting with a mammoth 22.5 tackle-for-loss season from Hamilcar Rashed, Oregon State generated over seven tackles for loss and 2.67 sacks per game.

Last year? Seven sacks in seven games. That was bad, and the 3.86 tackles for loss per outing were even worse. There’s too much talent and too many good options in place for that to happen again.

Oregon State Beavers Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Tristan Gebbia, Jr.
Or Colorado transfer Sam Noyer, or sophomore Chance Nolan. The Beavers need more production under center, and they’ve got the options to do it.

How often do you get a quarterback who was a second-team all-conference performer the year before? That’s Noyer, and he’s going to provide a huge push with his ability to hit the downfield throw – a problem last year for OSU.

But it’s still Gebbia’s gig to lose. He’s getting past a leg injury, but when he’s right he’s not bad at spreading the ball around and he’s got the baller attitude always be battling.

No matter what, though, the Beavers need the spot to be a major positive.

Oregon State Beavers Key Game To The 2021 Season

at Purdue, Sept. 4
Go ahead and pick your poison among the Pac-12 games, but the Beavers could use a tone-setter. The last time the program won a season-opener over an FBS team was …

2012 in a strange 10-7 battle with Wisconsin. Before that? 2007 against Utah. And the last time your Oregon State Beavers won a season-opener on the road over an FBS school was 1999 at Nevada.

To get even crazier, the last time Oregon State won a season opener on the road against a Power Five school was …

1965 over Illinois.

The 1967 Beavers beat Purdue in the only meeting between the two, and they did it in West Lafayette. Do it this time around against the high-octane Boilermakers, and there will be plenty of reasons to get fired up for a big start with home games against Hawaii and Idaho ahead.

Oregon State Schedule Analysis

2020 Oregon State Beavers Fun Stats

– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:03 – Oregon State 27:57
– Fumbles: Oregon State 9 (lost 3) – Opponents 7 (lost 1)
– Total Scoring After 3 Quarters: Opponents 182 – Oregon State 129

NEXT: Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

Oregon State Beavers College Football Preview 2021: What Will Happen, Season Prediction

If a program fires a coach or allows him to leave before he’s whacked, the new guy’s job in the first year is simple: provide hope.

Show a vision for where the program is going, and give a glimpse of what might be coming after a little more time and with the right pieces in place.

Jonathan Smith did exactly that at Oregon State.

Along with showing the fans the potential of what the Beavers could be, he showed improvement with a two-win first season and then a 5-7 2019 that at least was a whole lot of fun.

And then 2020 happened and everything came to a screeching halt. However, as bad as the 2-5 season might have been, again, Smith brought the hope with a win over eventual Pac-12 champion and arch-rival, Oregon.

However, there were a whole lot of problems with the 2020 team, and the 2021 schedule is a whole lot of rough to come up with a huge step forward.

Set The Oregon State Beavers Regular Season Win Total At … 4.5

The defense has to go from lousy to mediocre, the pass rush has to show up, the passing game has to be more dangerous, and it all has to happen in a Pac-12 that should be a lot stronger.

Yeah, about that hope thing … hope sometimes smacks head-first into the reality of the schedule.

The 2019 team that won five games and showed so much improvement had Cal Poly on the slate and there was no USC.

This year, Idaho is the FCS layup, but there’s a road trip to USC and the team misses an Arizona team that should be the weakest in the Pac-12.

At Purdue, at USC, at Washington State, at Cal, at Colorado, at Oregon. Oregon State isn’t going to be favored in any of those.

It needs to beat a good Hawaii team at home, and there have to be a few big conference home upsets – that’s a problem with Washington, Utah, Arizona State and Stanford all likely to be the favorites.

But Oregon State will win a few games it probably shouldn’t.

This really is a better team than the 2020 version, Smith showed that he can coach up his guys to pull off something special here and there, and …

No, Oregon State isn’t going to break the streak and it’s probably going to be an eighth straight losing season.

But really, Smith is making this program better. Hope will turn into wins at this program soon enough.

– What You Need To Know: Offense | Defense
Top Players | Keys To The Season
Oregon State Schedule Analysis

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