Our friends over at Building the Dam were gracious enough to answer some of our questions regarding the Beavers!
OSU has made obvious strides forward this year and are more competitive . . . but that has only resulted in a 2-4 record, and the tougher half of the schedule is yet to come. Do OSU fans feel like Jonathan Smith is improving things quickly enough?
Obviously fans would like it turn around quicker, but I think MOST fans realize there was a long ways to go when Smith took over and are willing to be patient. Of course there will always be fans who are constantly angry and called for him to fired after game 3.
The OSU offense had been very productive this year (37 ppg, 475 yards per game) but they were shut out for 59 minutes against the Utes. Was this an aberration or do the Beavs have some weaknesses that stronger defenses can exploit?
I would say the absolute shutdown of the O was an aberration, but there are some definite weaknesses. The offense lacks a true #2 receiver and it’s often Hodgins or bust when it comes to the passing game.
The OSU run defense has gone from historically bad to merely bad. What has led to this improvement?
There finally seems to be some sort of pass rush, which has been lacking the past few years. The defensive line and linebackers are finding their way into the offensive backfield more often than past seasons and it has definitely made a difference. There is still a long way to go, but the defense is less awful than previous seasons.
Jermar Jefferson has not appeared to be at full strength for much of the season. How has this changed the offensive game planning?
It has changed the running game a bit as Jermar is a tougher more between the tackles runner, but Artavis Pierce has looked awesome in his own right. Pierce was the #1 guy coming into last season before injury opened the door for Jefferson. I truly think both Pierce and Jefferson will be playing on Sundays in the future.
Which player on offense should Cal fans know about?
This one has to be wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins. He has been absolutely on fire this season.
Which player on defense should Cal fans know about?
Uhhh... Let’s go with Hamiclar Rashed. He is one of few Beavers that seems to make some noise in the defense backfield. If OSU is going to win they will need the D to step up and Rashed will be key.
Who’s one under-the-radar or X-factor player who could swing this game for you?
Tyjon Lindsey. The Nebraska transfer was supposed to give the Beavs another elite weapon in the WR core, but so far he has struggled. If they can get him going and have a second option for Luton to throw to the offense should be able to score juuust enough to make it interesting
What does Oregon State need to do to win the game?
Force multiple turnovers. Let’s be frank, Oregon State’s defense is not good, and while Cal’s O is pretty bad itself I still expect the Bears to be able to put together a handful of strong drives. The Beavs are gonna need a few turnovers to keep the Bears off the field.
What does Cal need to do to win the game?
Put 3 guys on Hodgins... The Oregon State offense lives and dies by Isaiah Hodgins at this point and if you can find a way to slow him down you will keep the Beavs out of the endzone.
How do you see the game going?
If you had asked me this a week ago I would have had a lot more confidence in the Beavs, but after seeing a good Utah defense shut them down I am worried. I think the Beavs will make adjustments and have a better offensive showing, but I still see Cal taking this one 35-21.
Whom do you most want to punch in the face?
That’s a very loaded question. I’ll listen to the “stick to sports” crowd and avoid politics on this one... So I am going to have to go with Larry Scott. The Pac-12 sucks at so so so many things and Scott doesn’t seem to care to do a damn thing about it