Earlier this week I posted our first offseason preview of an opponent. Now it is time to learn more. Let’s learn about the Oregon State Beavers from Max, a.k.a. The_Coach at SB Nation’s Building The Dam.
1. These random home-and-homes are always fun, and it feels extra special after a weird COVID year with no fans or non-conference games. How excited are you guys for something even remotely normal in the opener?
I think everyone in general is excited for a “normal” college football season, but in terms of Oregon State, fans really believe in head coach Jonathan Smith and his rebuild of the program and are awaiting a litmus test of sorts against a Big Ten foe like Purdue. For the Beavers, I think a lot of the last few seasons under Coach Smith, it’s been more about “us” and not about “them” in terms of how the team competes and stays in games. Obviously, more victories would be welcomed, but as the culture gets fixed, those are expected to come. I expect a fun one in West Lafayette.
2. Oregon State has always felt a bit like a Purdue of the Pac-12 to me, complete with a peak in the late 60s, a downslide, then another peak in the early 2000s. Is this a pretty fair assessment?
Yeah, that’s a pretty fair assessment. I mean I love the Boilermakers nickname, but clearly it’s not better than a Beaver (duh), but on the field, it’s pretty similar. We’ve had our fair share of amazing professionals, stand-out college stars, notable upsets and all that. Oregon State is kind of known as the “giant killer” of the Pac-12, with even last year’s upset of Oregon, but it’s the game-to-game consistency that still eludes them as a program.
3. Even last year felt like a similar year for each school, as both won two games, one being a decent home upset, but with a lot of close calls. Was it a step forward or one back for you guys?
I’d say a step forward. It’s hard to look in from the outside and understand unless you’ve seen all the games over the past few seasons, but the quality level of football under Coach Smith is just so much better, the recruiting has improved so much, the general chaos of the program has dwindled. It’s just a good situation right now and it’s definitely trending upwards. It may be a long way from where we want to be just yet, but it’s on it’s way.
4. How has the wild west of the transfer portal helped or hurt you guys?
Oregon State actually won out in the transfer portal pretty handedly. Again, Coach Smith’s rebuild has that optimistic vision surrounding it and maybe it played a role in grabbing some other power-conference players and leading them to the west coast. The additions of defensive back Elijah Jones (Kansas), running back Deshaun Fenwick (South Carolina) and defensive lineman Keonte Schad (Minnesota) should pay immediate dividends, while depth will be helped by the likes of linebacker Heneli Bloomfield (Utah State) and wide receiver Makiya Tongue (Georgia).
5. What are some of the expectations entering this year?
While somewhere around .500 is probably the goal, I would not be too certain that the Beavers can even reach that mark with the schedule they have. They play on the road at Purdue (obviously), USC, Washington State, California, Colorado and Oregon, which all further complicate contests that were already tough to win. And then they’re home schedule only includes the likes of Pac-12 teams like Washington, Utah, Stanford and Arizona State to top all that. Much like the Big Ten, there’s not any weeks off. I’d say if they can get the offense going and have a serviceable defense, they can reach that mark with one of two upsets in the bag. Otherwise, they’ll likely fall short of even that pedestrian dream.
6. What can Purdue fans expect when they visit Corvallis in a few seasons?
Corvallis is known as “The Best College Town in the Pac-12” for a reason and it’s really an amazing place. The fans are so passionate and they love the school so deeply. The local businesses. Just everything and everyone is on board with what’s going on. It’s a place you could come with your friends for a party weekend or bring the family for a game and neither would feel a bit out of place. The return game in Corvallis will also be in late summer/early Fall so c’mon, you’ll get Oregon just as the weather is changing. The beautiful foliage, people. Doesn’t get any better than that. Book your tickets now to the Beaver State.