Oregon St. runs a familiar 4-3 system under defensive coordinator Mark Banker, which should come as no surprise to the Bruin coaching staff, players or fans. Banker has been running the Beaver defense for 9 years, and he has always coached a very good defensive line. The defensive unit has struggled mightily this year, giving up 32 points per game, 382 yards per game, and 5.7 yards per play. The source of the struggles can be found on the usually steady defensive front. The Beavers have registered only 3 sacks and 9 tackles for loss this year, the majority of which came against FCS Sacramento St. (Oregon St. sacked Sacramento St. twice and registered 6 tackles for loss).
Last year, the Beavers sacked UCLA quarterbacks 3 times and registered 10 tackles for loss, but the Bruins were still able to rack up 337 yards of offense including 210 rushing yards and converted on 8 of 17 3rd down attempts. Those negative plays were the key to holding the Bruins to 17 points, and will likely prove the key to this year's game as well.
Sr. Dominic Glover is out for academic reasons, and fellow starter Jr. Castro Masaniani has been suspended for the game, which means Sr. Kevin Frahm, 6'2 281 lbs., Jr. Andrew Seumalo, 6'3 281 lbs., and Sr. Ben Motter, 6'5 285 lbs., will man the defensive tackle positions.
At end, RS Fr. Scott Crichton, 6'3 258 lbs., and Jr. Taylor Henry, 6'1 258 lbs., will start. Crichton leads the team with 2 tackles for loss and has registered a sack. They will be spelled by Jr. Rusty Fernando, 6'3 232 lbs., Fr. Dylan Wynn, 6'2 240 lbs., and Jr. Rudolf Fifita, 6'3 263 lbs.
Oregon St. lost two of it's starting linebackers to graduation, and the third has been demoted to back-up. The Beaver linebackers are similar to their defensive line- undersized and quick. While Wisconsin did gain over 200 yards on the ground, they did most of the damage after wearing the smaller Oregon St. defense down.
The leader of the group is middle linebacker Jr. Feti Unga, 6'1 248 lbs. He leads the team with 17 tackles, but has yet to register a tackle for loss. Jr. Tony Wilson, 6'1 246 lbs., will be his primary backup.
Sr. Cam Collins, 6'2 238 lbs., will start at the strongside linebacker position. The former safety did start two games last year, but has only made 6 tackles this season. Former starter Sr. Rueben Robinson, 6'3 238 lbs. will back up Collins.
The weakside linebacker is manned by So. Michael Doctor, 5'11 222 lbs. He is second amongst the linebackers with 11 tackles. Fr. Donnel Welch, 6'1 223 lbs. is his primary backup.
The unquestioned leader of the secondary is FS Sr. Lance Mitchell, 6'2 207 lbs. After registering 74 tackles and 2 interceptions last year, there was some talk of All Pac-12 honors. To date, Mitchell has made 12 tackles from the safety position. Mitchell will be spelled by Fr. Tyrequek Zimmerman, 5'11 188 lbs.
The strong safety spot is manned by another good tackler, Jr. Anthony Watkins, 6'1 218 lbs., who also has 12 tackles this season. Watkins will be backed up by Fr. Ryan Murphy, 6'3 209 lbs.
At cornerback, Oregon St. starts So. Rashaad Reynolds, 5'10 185 lbs., and Jr. Jordan Poyer, 5'11 190 lbs. Starter Brandon Hardin, 6'2 219 lbs., would have matched up well against UCLA's bigger wide receivers, but he is injured and will miss this week's game. Due to the fact that Oregon St. uses their safeties in run support, look for matchup problems with UCLA's big wide receivers against the small Beaver cornerbacks on the outside.
So. Sean Martin, 5'11 175 lbs. and Jr. Ryan Handford, 5'9 197 lbs. will play in nickel and dime packages.
Fr. Trevor Romaine takes over placekicking duties after the loss of Brian Kahut. Romaine is 2 of 3 on the short season. Sr. Johnny Hekker returns as punter. The steady punter is averaging 38 yards per punt, and has career averages a little north of 40 yards per punt.
Due to James Rodgers' injury, the Beavers have used a variety of returners this year. Don't expect to see Rodgers returning punts or kickoffs this week, and the returner to look out for is Fr. Malcolm Marable. Marable is small enough to hide behind blockers, 5'7 164 lbs., and fast enough to break a seam.
That concludes the Oregon St. preview. Fire away with any additional comments and thoughts.