Last week’s game against Arizona wasn’t much in terms of an offensive display by the UCLA Bruins. It was a very winnable game all the way around, but, as Joe pointed out in this week’s Sunday Morning QB article, there wasn’t just one thing wrong with the performance. Between dropped balls and missed tackles, UCLA basically threw the game away.
This Saturday, UCLA hosts the Oregon State Beavers in an evening match up that could turn out be an extremely ugly win if both teams are true to form. OSU is also a one-win team and 1-3 overall, with a 45-7 win over Cal Poly Pomona on September 14. The Beavers are coming off a 31-28 loss to Stanford, where the Cardinal was able to kick a last minute field goal to squeak out the win.
One thing that can be said about Oregon State is that they have the ability to put up a lot of points. They have scored a total of 137 points to UCLA’s 126, but remember that 67 of UCLA’s were during the nail biting shootout with Washington State.
Here is a look at the offense the Beavers will bring to Pasadena.
Senior Jake Luton is the starting QB for Oregon State and one thing he has is size. At 6’7”, he is one of the tallest players on the team and is most definitely a pocket passer. He has 14 rushing attempts for -9 yards. Given that he has been sacked six times in four games, nearly half of those rushing attempts were sacks which explains why his rushing attempts have a net negative yards. He’s been sacked half as many times as UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson. He has a 60.7% completion percentage on 135 attempts and has thrown for nine touchdowns with no picks so far this year.
Oregon State’s offensive line definitely has some maturity up front. It is actually a patchwork of transfers from all over. Their starting center is redshirt junior Nathan Eldridge, who has an interesting history. In 2016, he was actually at Arizona and was the first freshman in ten years to start at center. He played two years and was then injured in 2018 and sat out the season. He turned up this year at Oregon State and is now starting again. In 2017, he was selected to the second team All-Pac-12 by the AP and received honorable mention selection by the coaches.
On the right, the Beavers have redshirt senior Clay Cordasco at guard and sophomore Brandon Kipper at tackle. Cordasco started his football career at two different community colleges, then utilized his redshirt year in 2017. He came to OSU in 2018, and played nine games on the line. He also played some snaps on defense in red zone situations. Kipper is also a transfer from Hawai’i, where he appeared in 11 games in 2017. He played in three games last year for Oregon State, but was able to redshirt due to the new redshirt rule.
On the left is senior Gus Lavaka at guard and redshirt senior Blake Brandel at tackle. Brandel has 36 consecutive starts at the tackle position, which is the most on the team heading into this year. This offensive line really helped the run game last year, allowing Jermar Jefferson to rush for 1,000 yards. This year isn’t looking quite as good, but anything can happen in the next seven games.
Senior Artavis Pierce and Jefferson have taken the most snaps for the running game. Pierce has 43 carries and 363 yards, while Jefferson has 51 carries for 287 yards. This group, while decently talented, will have to fend off the UCLA defensive line, which has done a decent job this year of defending the run. Redshirt sophomore B.J. Baylor may also be in the mix if Pierce and Jefferson aren’t getting the job done. Pierce has the most touchdowns at four. So, look for him in red zone situations.
Receivers & Tight Ends
Luton’s favorite target is junior Isaiah Hodgins. He has 33 receptions for 509 yards and six touchdowns, which is basically Demetric Felton and Jaylen Erwin combined. Hodgins is on the 2019 Biletnikoff Award watch list and also the preseason All-Pac-12 second team. He is definitely on track to pass his 876 yards from last season and has already passed his touchdown total for last year. We’ll also see redshirt sophomore Champ Flemings and redshirt senior tight end Noah Togiai catching passes here and there. But, most importantly, Hodgins will need to be covered and that ten-yard cushion the secondary tends to give opposing receivers needs to go.
It is still hard to analyze this team. UCLA needs a bounce back win, and this definitely could be it. The Bruins cannot go back to old habits of playing down to lesser opponents and only bringing their “A” game to the big contests. The Beavers are definitely beatable.