Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Getting To Know The Oregon State Beavers

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Getting To Know The Oregon State Beavers

Bowl Season

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Getting To Know The Oregon State Beavers


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Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Getting To Know The Oregon State Beavers

It’s been a while since the Beavers have been in a bowl, so we talked with Nick Daschel of The Oregonian to learn more about Oregon State.

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Oregon State is making good on its rebuild.

The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl will kick off on Saturday between the Utah State Aggies and Oregon State Beavers, featuring a pair of teams who reached SoFi Stadium by following fairly similar paths.

To answer our questions about the Beavers, we reached out to Nick Daschel, who covers Oregon State football as a writer for The Oregonian.

Mountain West Wire: It’s been a little while since Oregon State has gone bowling, but Mountain West fans may have had an inkling that the Beavers have been building toward something promising over the last couple years. What would you say is the biggest step forward that the team made in order to secure its first winning campaign since 2013?

Nick Daschel: Building up the talent base. It was awful when Jonathan Smith took over 2018. OSU didn’t have a single player from its roster participate in an NFL camp from the 2018 roster. The Beavers went seven years (2013-20) without producing an all-conference first-team selection.

Fast forward to 2021, when Oregon State had 17 players on the all-conference team, its most since 2008. OSU’s defensive talent, arguably the worst in FBS in 2018, has taken an enormous step forward. Last year the Beavers placed two starting cornerbacks in the NFL. This year’s team had five defensive backs on the all-conference team.

MWW: Oregon State always seems to have a dynamic playmaker who can be a nightmare for opposing defenses, from Jacquizz Rodgers to Brandin Cooks to Isaiah Hodgins. Who would you say best fits that mold among this year’s Beavers and what does he bring to the table?

ND: No one on this team fits the mold of an A lister like a Rodgers or Cooks or Hodgins. But this team has more players capable of contributing in a big way. Running back B.J. Baylor led the Pac-12 in rushing yards. Receiver Trevon Bradford has 149 career receptions and 14 touchdowns. Tight end Luke Musgrave can be explosive, as he caught seven passes against Oregon. A team and fan favorite, Jack Colletto, is nearly automatic in converting short yardage situations as a Wildcat quarterback.

MWW: Chance Nolan appears to have brought some stability to the quarterback position, so how is it that he ended up starting 11 games and what has been his biggest strength?

ST: Nolan is unlike any OSU quarterback under Smith in that he has dual threat capabilities. Nolan hurt several opponents with the play-action passing game, as the Beavers made defenses pay attention to their potent running game. Nolan is particularly good in the short to intermediate passing game.

The key for Nolan is accuracy. He can be wild, but when accurate, Oregon State thrives. In the six games when he completed two-thirds of his passes or better, OSU was 6-0. The improvement to Nolan’s game over a year ago is his willingness to stay in the pocket. In 2020, Nolan took off at the first sign of trouble. While he’s run a fair amount this season – 62 carries, 283 yards, three TDs – Nolan took the pass rush heat and often thrived.

MWW: One thing that may get overlooked in the lead-up to the LA Bowl is that Oregon State also has a strong offensive line that was recently named as a Joe Moore Award finalist. Within that unit, who’s the standout that Aggies fans will want to get familiar with and why?

ND: After OSU’s 42-34 win over Utah, Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said the Beavers had the Pac-12’s best offense, specifically because of the offensive line. It’s a veteran group that collectively has more than 120 career starts. Four of the five linemen started every game this season. The leader is center Nathan Eldridge, a first-team all-conference selection who is in his seventh year of college football (four Arizona, three OSU).

Right tackle Brandon Kipper is a three-year starter who is particularly strong in the run game. Left tackle Joshua Gray is a two-year starter and potentially a high-round NFL draft choice down the road. Sixth-year senior Nous Keobounnam is versatile, as he’s started at center and right guard the past three years.

MWW: I noticed that linebacker Avery Roberts was the lone Oregon State defender to be named recently to the all-Pac 12 first team (and for the second straight year, at that). What can you tell us about Roberts and why he’s so important to the Beavers?

ND: Roberts, the Pac-12’s leading tackler, will not play against Utah State as he had minor surgery after the Oregon game. He’s expected to leave OSU with a year of eligibility remaining for the 2022 NFL draft. Kyrei Fisher is Roberts’ likely replacement against Utah State.

MWW: Lastly, how do you see the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl matchup unfolding between Oregon State and Utah State?

ND: As is always the case with Oregon State, the start is crucial. The Beavers have had some awful first quarters this season, often in the losses. Utah State will surely key on Oregon State’s running game, as it is the team’s strength that the Beavers often use to consume the clock and set up touchdowns. Pay too much attention to the running game, and as we said above, Nolan can hurt opponents with the play-action pass.

Defensively, Oregon State isn’t great in pass defense. Utah State, obviously, can be lethal through the air. OSU was better in pass defense under interim defensive coordinator Trent Bray (replaced Tim Tibesar on November 7). That trend must continue if OSU doesn’t want to get into a shootout.


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