Last weekend, the Oregon State Beavers crushed a 21-0 deficit and tied the score 28-28 against the Stanford Cardinal with just a few minutes to play. But OSU fans’ hopes were dashed when special teams and defense allowed Stanford to carve up the field and score a last-minute field goal for the win.
This situation sounds all too familiar. With two teams like the UCLA Bruins and Oregon State coming together after losses by a field goal, it’s obvious that both feel they have something to prove. Beaver fans are commiserating just as much as Bruin fans and, if UCLA wants to retain any legitimacy in the collegiate football world, a win this weekend is a non-negotiable.
Here is a look at the defense the Bruins are up against this weekend.
Oregon State finished the 2018 season with the second-worst run defense in the country, allowing an average of 281 yards on the ground per game. This year, it has gotten slightly better, as the Beavs are allowing opponents to rack up about 180 rushing yards per game, good enough to be ranked 101 among all FBS schools.
Up front playing tackle we should see redshirt senior Elu Aydon getting the start. He has ten total tackles so far this year, with a game high of four against Cal Poly Pomona on September 14. He will be flanked by redshirt senior LaMone Williams and sophomore Isaac Hodgins, brother of fellow teammate wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins.
Judging by current statistics, the Oregon State defensive line doesn’t seem to be a formidable foe. Fans can expect Joshua Kelley to be totalling more yards on Saturday with this weak defense. The UCLA run game will definitely need the help, especially if backup quarterback Austin Burton gets the start and play calling is more conservative.
According to Beaver Blitz, the linebacking corps may, in fact, be the highlight of the Oregon State defense. Redshirt junior Hamilcar Rashed Jr. is leading this group with 24 total tackles, 7.5 of which were for a loss, and five sacks in four games. He also has two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. So, this man will need to be contained for sure. Sophomore John McCartan is also up there with 22 total tackles and two sacks. With UCLA’s offensive line having allowed Dorian Thompson-Robinson to be sacked twelve times, pass protection is going to be essential in this game.
Additionally, Oregon State got a transfer from Nebraska in redshirt sophomore Avery Roberts. He was just one of two true freshmen to start for the Cornhuskers in 2017 and he has fit in nicely this year with the Beaver defense. He has seen action in all four games and has 22 tackles and one sack to his name.
If anything on the OSU defense is going to give UCLA fits, it is going to be the linebackers. In order to give the Bruin quarterback time to throw, it is going to be essential for the offensive line to hold and not let these guys through.
The Oregon State secondary appears to be in flux as this team continues to rebuild, but it is looking like redshirt seniors Shawn Wilson and Jalen Moore will be the starting safeties and redshirt sophomore Jaydon Grant and juniors Nahshon Wright and Isaiah Dunn will be the cornerbacks. Wilson and Wright are having a good season so far. Grant was able to push all the way up from the nickel position to notch a sack. While the strength is in the linebackers, the secondary can do a little damage, too.
Stats on paper are always much different than what plays out on the field, but UCLA can beat the Beavers’ defense. However, with the added fuel of losing by a last-minute field goal, expect both teams to come out with their hair on fire.