Matchups/Players to watch: Can Oregon State trick its way past the Duck defense?
With the final home game of the year quickly approaching, Oregon fans must be thinking about what the season could have been. This has been a different squad with a healthy Vernon Adams Jr. under center. Many of the losses, like Washington State, may have played out differently with the graduate transfer healthily at the helm.
Now, the Ducks’ attention will turn to the 119th Civil War against Oregon State Friday afternoon to see which school gets to host the Platypus Trophy.
While Oregon has been trending up, the same can’t be said of its in-state rival. Under first year head coach Gary Andersen, everyone thought this would be a rebuilding year for the Beavers (2-9, 0-8), though perhaps not quite as bad as it has been. Oregon State hasn’t won a conference game this season and has gaping holes across the field. Losing starting quarterback Seth Collins, who led the team in passing and rushing yards, to an injury didn’t help.
But as the saying goes: throw out the records in rivalry games. So enjoy Thanksgiving with family and friends, eat a lot of turkey and then get ready for some football.
Here are the matchups to watch for on Friday:
Oregon State play calling vs. Oregon defense
Going into this game, the Beavers are going to have to get creative in the play calling if they want a chance to snag the upset. They will have to be aggressive, not afraid to go for two-point conversions, fake punts and onside kicks early in the game to try to catch the Oregon defense off guard. One player who should be involved is Victor Bolden, who is a threat running and catching the ball. Watch for early attempts by him to get touches in the open spaces so he can make plays with his feet.
Oregon running backs vs. Oregon State front seven
Oregon will try to build a quick lead and then drain the clock by pounding the ball on the ground. Coming in, the Ducks are ranked fifth in the nation in terms of rushing yards, piling on 285.9 per game. Starting running back Royce Freeman will likely get touches early and often. For the Beavers, the key will be to get stops and get the defense off the field, giving the offense as many chances as possible to score touchdowns of its own.
Players to watch:
It sometimes feels like Addison’s production on the field is overshadowed by his flashier teammates, even though he has been one of the most consistent players on the Oregon roster. This year he has 50 receptions for 669 yards and seven touchdowns.
In the past two games, against some of the stiffest competition of the conference schedule, the Ducks have gotten a surprise performance out of tight end Baylis. In wins against USC and Stanford, Baylis collected three catches for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Peko is one of the leaders on the defensive side of the ball for Oregon State. The big-bodied senior defensive tackle will look to hold his position against the aggressive Oregon rushing attack, occupying the offensive line and freeing up his teammates to make plays. He has done well this season, recording 40 tackles and a sack.
The Beavers’ sophomore wide receiver has been one of the few bright spots on offense this year. Villamin provides a big target for quarterbacks, standing six-foot-five, which comes in handy when his team works its way into the redzone. When he has seen the ball, Villamin has produced, pulling in 39 catches for 588 yards and five touchdowns.
Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur