With their matchup against USC just days away, the Beavers feel ready to take on Clay Helton’s Men of Troy.
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For the third straight week, the Beavers will be taking on a team ranked in the top-25. The Cougars and Huskies are the best teams in the north division and both boast a top-15 ranking.
This stretch of games has been brutal for the Beavers, and it won’t get any easier this week, as OSU will be facing perhaps the best pure athletes in the conference in USC.
The Trojans boast one of the most dynamic offenses in the Pac-12 even though they’ve struggled with consistency through the first couple weeks of the season.
Gary Andersen offered his thoughts on what he’s seen in film study of USC.
“For (USC), the obvious things are there,” Andersen said. “They are extremely talented all the way through the team. (Sam Darnold) is an elite player and has very good playmakers around him and they run the ball well. Defensively, it’s a solid scheme by a veteran defensive coordinator (Clancy Pendergast). They are extremely solid on special teams. John Baxter is one of the best special teams coaches in the country. They are a well rounded team and very worthy of their ranking.”
A familiar smiling face was on the sidelines for the Beavers today in the form of quarterback Jake Luton. For the first time since his injury against Washington State, Luton was back at practice and was talking with his teammates and coaches with a big grin on his face. Luton was dressed sweats and didn’t move very much, but he looked extremely good for a guy who suffered a thoracic spine fracture just three weeks ago.
Andersen offered an update on Luton’s overall well-being and noted that they are close to getting him back on the field to at least watch practice on a regular basis soon.
“It's great to have him back and see a smile on his face,” Andersen said with a smile. “We’d like to see him out here everyday and he’s getting closer to that. It’s really good for the kids to see him and I know it’s great for Jake. He’s progressing. His mental attitude is very good which is key.”
Since the injury, Andersen noted that he’s been exchanging text messages with Luton letting him know that he’s there for him in any way that he can be. However, he noted those texts are usually quite brief in length as Andersen added that we all know that Jake is very much to himself.
“I try and text back and forth with him at least every other day if not everyday,” Andersen said. “My messages to him are to let him know that whatever he needs, I’ll be there regardless of the time of day or whatever the scenario is. As you know, Jake is a man of few words and his texts usually aren’t too long either. I appreciate that about him.”
In terms of injury news, Artavis Pierce practiced fully for the Beavers today. After taking a nasty fall against Washington, Pierce was listed at probably and was slightly limited earlier this week but seemed full go in practice. Ryan Nall on the other hand is looking as he is listed. Doubtful. Nall was in a new ankle brace today and was holding the offense’s play cards today on the sideline while not in pads. Andersen noted that if Nall can go he will, but it will all depend on how he is feeling.
If there is a chink in the Trojans armor, it might be that star quarterback Sam Darnold hasn’t been very accurate with the ball this season. He’s tossed eight interceptions against nine touchdowns, and if the Beavers can force pressure on him, they might be able to force him into some bad decisions.
“There have been some really nice plays made on the ball,” Andersen said. “He trusts his arm and I think elite quarterbacks are going to trust their arms in tight windows. A lot of times it has paid off for him and a couple of times it hasn’t. I know he’s thrown some interceptions, but in my mind he is an elite quarterback with his arm, mind, and legs.”
Andersen feels that if the team can put it all together, everyone will see what the team’s potential is.
“This week we’ve talked about our ability to put a full team effort together and that’s gonna be key,” Andersen said. “There are going to be ups and downs in a game but you want to see consistency from all three phases of the game for four quarters. If we can do that, then we will start to get the results we want. I truly believe that. But we have to be able to get that done.”