UCLA Football, due to the rotational Pac-12 scheduling, will face the Oregon State Beavers this year for the first time since 2012.
The Beavers are embarking on a new era after the departure of iconic head coach Mike Riley. The Bruins will look to take advantage of Oregon State’s transition to grab a win before the Beavers inevitably improve.
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The Oregon State Beavers:
Head Coach: Gary Andersen, 1st year
2014 Record: 5-7 overall, 2-7 Pac-12
The story of the season for Oregon State is the change at the head coach position. For fourteen of the last eighteen years, Mike Riley was the face of Oregon State football. His affable nature, quiet competence, and ability to find unheralded talent have defined the modern era of Beaver football. This is why his departure for the Nebraska job was so shocking.
But as beloved as Riley is/was among Beaver faithful, there’s a definite undercurrent of relief that Riley was able to depart on his own terms and that the athletic department was not forced to fire perhaps the most successful head coach in program history. Because Riley’s teams had started to stagnate, and his modest accomplishments were getting overshadowed by the meteoric rise of the hated rival Oregon Ducks in Eugene.
Oregon State Beavers new football coach Gary Andersen. Photo Credit: Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports
So Gary Andersen, coming off of a phenomenal rebuilding job at Utah State and then a successful, if brief, tenure at Wisconsin, has a rebuilding job ahead of him.
The Oregon State Offense:
The other locus of turnover for the Beavers is at quarterback, where Sean Mannion had held down the job, starting all but three games in four seasons.
As a result, the Beavers do not have a quarterback on the roster who has ever taken a snap in a college game. True freshman Seth Collins is expected to land the starting gig, and he’ll be well equipped with senior RB Storm Woods, junior RB Chris Brown, senior WR Victor Bolden, sophomore WR Jordan Villamin, and a strong offensive line.
The offense will be switching from Riley’s old pro-style offense to a modern spread attack. A realistic measure of success for the Beavers will be laying the groundwork this season for future offenses, and the UCLA defense will be looking for a big day against a freshman-led squad making a system transition.
The Oregon State Defense
The defense is making, if possible, an even bigger overhaul than the offense. New Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake will try to change the 4-3 unit to a hybrid 3-4, all while replacing nine of eleven starters. Senior CB Larry Scott anchors a secondary with a lot of promise, while the front seven is full of question marks. If Josh Rosen has the UCLA offense clicking by the time this game rolls around, the Bruins could be looking at a big day.
The Oregon St. vs. UCLA Outlook and Early Prediction:
Oregon State will not always be this vulnerable. The Beavers were always a tough matchup under Riley, and there appears to be a higher ceiling with Andersen at the helm. This is a win that a UCLA team with aspirations of a big season must expect, but the Bruins cannot take the Beavers lightly.
Prediction: UCLA 35 – Oregon State 6