Oregon State needed a new makeover and went out and hired former Beaver quarterback Jonathan Smith. He hopes to change the culture for the better and build the Beavers back to the state of respectability. Smith inherits a one-win team with an offense that returns seven starters but finished dead last in the Pac-12 in scoring and total offense. It doesn’t get any better on the other side of the ball with the defense returning only five starters from a unit that finished last in the conference in scoring defense and 121st nationally in total defense. The projected starter at quarterback Jake Luton had only four touchdown passes with four interceptions last season. The teams’ leading returning running back had only 323 yards on the ground and one touchdown. The one positive aspect for the offense is the four starters returning on the offensive line.
Team strengths: The receiving corp. Wideouts Isaiah Hodgins, Timmy Hernandez, Trevon Bradford and tight end Noah Togiai all combined for 106 catches, 1,297 yards and seven touchdowns. That should give the new quarterback momentum knowing that the players around him have experience and production.
Team weaknesses: The entire defense. The Beavers allowed 43 points per game on defense and finished 128th nationally in scoring, 121st against the run and only three starters return in the front seven. This unit is in for a tough year and will get steamrolled on the ground and torched through the air.
Players to watch: Tight end Togiai and safety David Morris. Togiai led the team in receptions and yards last season and provides a huge sure-handed target for the new quarterback to throw to. Morris finished second on the team in tackles last season with 75, including four from behind the line of scrimmage.
The schedule: Brutal. You can put Oregon State with a schedule full of Sun Belt teams and it’ll still be challenging. Opening up at Ohio State will be a massacre. Other blow out games will come in November with a home game against USC, followed by will be back-to-back road games at Stanford and Washington. Like last season, the Beavers’ best chance for a win will be against another FCS foe when Southern Utah visits Corvallis.
My take: This will be at least a two-year rebuilding process for Oregon State, starting with 2018. With the holes on defense and inexperience on offense, the Beavers will be lucky to win a game this season.