Lindsay Schnell covers Oregon State football for the Oregonian, and answed five questions about the Beavers.
1 – How do you sense the confidence level of this team, given that this is an FCS opponent but also remembering the loss to Sac State in 2011?
Mike Riley and players have spoken candidly about what the 2011 loss to Sacramento State did to that team, and they have no intention of letting it happen again. That was a weird year in a lot of ways, and I don't think the Beavers will be repeating it anytime soon. OSU's confidence level is high because there are so many returning players from last year, but I think everyone is concerned about a lack of depth at a variety of positions right now (offensive line and defensive tackle, to be specific). Still, I expect OSU to approach it by being confident, not cocky.
2 – With Storm Woods and a veteran offensive line, do you expect the Beavers to play smash-mouth?
The words “veteran offensive line” took a hit this week when Riley announced that starting right tackle Gavin
Andrews is out with mono and starting center Isaac Seumalo is a game time decision as he deal with a nagging knee injury. OSU will reshuffle a bit for the opener, and it will help to have two experienced backs (Storm Woods and Terron Ward) … but I think “smashmouth” is a stretch.
3 – We know about Brandin Cooks, but how good is the rest of the receiving corps?
Outside of Cooks the Beavers' most proven receiver is junior tight end Connor Hamlett, a 6-foot-7, 265-pounder who started seven games last season and caught 32 passes for 403 yards and three touchdowns. He's looked good in camp, and I suspect that will continue when games start. Keep your eye on sophomore Richard Mullany, a 6-foot-3, 192-pounder who has terrific hands. He is expected to share time with Obum Gwacham at split end.
4 – Eastern Washington’s offense is built for speed; how do you think OSU will respond?
Yikes. This has usually not been a strong spot for the Beavers, and it's not good that their fastest, most athletic linebacker (D.J. Alexander) will miss this game with a sprained knee. That being said, the other linebackers look good and this group is so ready for some live tackling (they have scrimmaged at all in August) that they'll probably have a little more “zoom” in their step.
5 – What do you consider the biggest area of concern for this team?
Lack of depth on the offensive line. A few players who were slated to be big parts of that rotation (Seumalo, Andrews, redshirt freshman Garrett Weinreich) have been sidelined for a variety of reasons this month, and there's not a lot behind them. Defensive tackle is another question mark, because a few junior college transfers never showed up. The Beavers will start two experienced players there (seniors Mana Rosa and John Braun), but that's another position group that doesn't have a lot of bodies.