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San Jose State vs. Oregon State game preview: What Can the Spartans Expect From the Oregon State Beavers?

Andy Wooldridge of Building The Dam gives us a great insider preview on Oregon State.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This coming Saturday, the San Jose State Spartans travel up north to Corvallis, Oregon, to take on the Oregon State Beavers on a Saturday night in Reser Stadium. Since the last time these two teams haven't played since 1997 (where the Beavers hold a slight 3-2 edge in the series between these two), Spartan fans may not be that familiar with the Oregon State program and what to expect from them in this upcoming battle.

I was lucky enough to be able to get in contact with Andy Wooldridge, who covers the Oregon State Beavers on Building The Dam. Andy gives us some great insight on the Beavers program, and what we will most likely see play out on Saturday night.

Let's get right to it:

1. San Jose State head coach has recently said that the dual quarterback system is going to be here for a while, as Caragher still hasn't seen enough from either quarterback to make a decision on who to start. Oregon State is starting a freshmen, and from the looks of his stats so far, he was the right choice. What was it that Seth Collins did that separated himself from the others? Especially for being a freshman?

Collins has the explosive ability to make big plays that no one else on the roster can, but that was the case all along. What he has added is better ability to throw accurately, while Marcus McMaryion, his primary competitor, seems to have regressed in that area. He's also cut down his mistakes, which is what had given Coach Andersen pause initially.

2. Speaking of Collins, his first game as a starter saw him break out as a rusher, leading the Beavers in rushing with 152 yards. Would you say rushing is more of his strength? Or should it be his passing abilities that Spartan fans should be more worried about?

Collins can be counted on for a big run, and probably a highlight hurdle, at some point. But what the fans that didn't miss the first 2 minutes of the Michigan game saw, multiple completions to multiple receivers in different areas of the field, is what will beat someone should he be able to do it on more than 1 or 2 drives during the game.
And the better the passing game, the less opponents can load the box to stop both Collins' scrambles and the regular rushing game.

3. As a whole, what are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Oregon State offense? What are they going to try and get going early, and what are some things that the Spartan defense could expose?

The Gary Andersen/Dave Baldwin offense is a run first and short pass offense, that in turn looks to make the bigger play out of those smaller ones. Look for Chris Brown running and a lot of crossing routes and dump down passes with the occasional Collins keeper.

4. With Oregon State going with a freshman quarterback, a good offensive line is vital. How would you rate the Beavers offensive line? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Have they all played together for a while, or is it a new group of guys starting together that haven't quite gelled yet?

The Oregon State offensive line is the most experienced position group on the team with 4 returning starters, plus a prior 2 year starter in Isaac Seumalo who missed all of last season with a foot injury that dated back to the Hawaii Bowl in 2013 against Boise State. As such, it was expected to be a strength of this team, and it was a surprise when the o-line struggled collectively early in the season.
Closer analysis and grading of the first 2 games reveals that the line is playing pretty well, but have been hamstrung by isolated mistakes, and not all by them; the tight end and the receivers and running back all have significant blocking assignments in this offense.
But the one thing that's been an issue is getting good push downfield, which is probably largely a product of the change in blocking style from the pro-style offense these guys have all spent 2-4 years in under the prior coaching staff.

5. Just in general, who is the biggest playmaker thats the biggest threat to get the offense going that San Jose State should be worried with the most?

Beyond Collins, WR Jordan Villamin is the biggest threat to any opposing defense. The sophomore is still learning the intricacies of the job, but is Oregon State's leading receiver in terms of both catches and yards. The reason is his 6'5" frame that carries well over 230 lbs, which is a tight end build, doesn't slow him down, and he's a mismatch for most defensive backs.

That mismatch has resulted in opponents having to resort to taking a penalty to stop him in both games so far, so his production actually exceeds his stats.

6. Just in general, how has the defense performed so far to peoples expectations in this very short season?

The defense has exceeded all reasonable expectations. Given that there are only 2 returning starters, and a new system to learn there, expectations weren't very high to begin with though.
But the Beaver defense has been ahead of schedule under Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake every step of the way. And a real playmaker has emerged in junior LB Rommel Mangeo.

7. In the game against Michigan, Oregon State gave up 35 points. Would you attribute this to Michigan being able to recruit better, or do you think it was more of a bad defensive gameplay on the Beavers part?

It was partially that Michigan has more big road graders than the local heavy equipment dealer, and other factors, not bad play by the defense beyond a couple of blown assignments. Oregon State's defense, which had shut out Weber State (the Wildcats' only production came on a pick-6), actually played pretty well until finally wearing down in the 4th quarter.
The 95 yard field flip that special teams miscues caused just before half time set up a first and goal from less than 3 yards out, which it still took the Wolverines 3 plays to pick up, cost 1 touchdown, and 2 of the other 3 tds came in the 4th quarter, when the defense had to contend with their offense sending them back out after going 3 and punt 4 possessions in a row, and just wore down against the massive Michigan front.

8.Gary Andersen's move to Oregon State from Wisconsin seemed to be a surprise to most of the country when the news broke. What were fans reactions to the news of his arrival? What are the expectations of him? It's tough to say right now since there's only two games he's been the head coach, but are fans excited about what he's been able to do thus far?

It was a shock here, just as it was everywhere else, and so was Coach Riley's departure for Nebr ska the week before. No one expected a hire of this quality, or any hire that quickly.
But once the shock wore off, most fans were excited. They had wanted a change in the defensive system, which Andersen brought, and many were also wanting a more spread and up-tempo offense, which Andersen also brought.
Expectations were and are tempered, as everyone knew this season would be an uphill battle, after graduating Sean Mannion, the most productive quarterback in the history of the program, and the aforementioned almost total turnover of the defense.
There's been some concern that the offense hasn't been more consistent, but most realize that this team is still so lacking in big playmakers on either side of the ball that can make up for a mistake that it only takes one or two players to make one or two mistakes to derail a play, series, or possession, and not be able to make up for it.

9. With a big name coach in town, how do fans expect recruiting to change? I'm sure with the Ducks having so much success in the last several years, fans are wanting that same thing for the Beavers.

Competing with the Ducks will continue to be a challenge, and not just for the Beavers, but there have already been some encouraging signs. Oregon State now has a line into south Florida in assistant coach Telly Lockette that has already been fruitful, and its also become apparent that Andersen is far more creative in his use of where he will go to get a player.
He's also responded to losing a major recruit by having a ready next player he was able to get, something that sometimes was a challenge for Riley's staff.
Andersen's staff is generally a younger group than most of Riley's top assistants, and the appearance (and hope) is that they will relate better to today's high school prospect.

10. Are Beavers fans expecting this to be a competitive game, or are they assuming a pretty hefty victory?

Most are hoping for a competitive game, as the first 2 games have eliminated any crazy talk about hefty victories. Beaver fans I think realize the team is still likely to be inconsistent enough for most any opponent to be able to hang around. But most also expect the difference between a Pac-12 roster and a Mt. West roster that hasn't been in the upper echelon of the MWC for several years to eventually become apparent. Sporadically pulling away to a multiple score win, but not a blowout, is what most are expecting, as far as I can tell.
Again, thank you Andy for taking the time to give us some great insight on the Oregon State program. I highly recommend that everyone go take some time and visit Building The Dam too see what else Andy, along with the other Building the Dam team members, have to say about the Beavers.