The Arizona Wildcats take the road for the last time this season when they travel to Corvallis to play the Oregon State Beavers on Saturday night. This may be the matchup that UA has been looking for to get back on track before the Duel in the Desert.
OSU’s 2016 Record – 2-8 (1-6 Pac-12)
Key Games – Week one loss at Minnesota (30-23), Week four loss vs. Boise State (38-24), Week six win vs. Cal in OT (47-44), Week seven loss vs. Utah (19-14), Week nine loss vs. Washington State (35-31)
Key Offensive Players – Marcus McMaryion (QB), Victor Bolden Jr. (WR), Ryan Nall (RB), Jordan Villamin (WR)
Key Defensive Players – Caleb Saulo (LB), Treston Decoud (CB), Devin Chappell (S), Manase Hungalu (LB)
The Beavers are having a woeful season of their own. Gary Andersen is in his second year with the team and currently holds a 4-18 overall record with just one conference victory. Despite their horrendous record, they have been competitive in a few of these contests. Four of their ten games thus far have been decided by one score, and they are 1-3 in them.
OSU entered last offseason with a big question mark at quarterback. Last season, the two QBs who saw the most action were Nick Mitchell and Seth Collins. Mitchell decided to leave the program and Collins converted to wide receiver. This left Andersen and his staff scrambling to fill the void.
They were ultimately able to land Darell Garretson, who is a Chandler, Arizona native. Garretson transferred from Utah State and played decent until suffering a season-ending injury. This resulted in Marcus McMaryion leading the offense. He saw some limited action last year but is at least familiar with the system.
McMaryion will need to continue to lean heavily on the offensive playmakers like wide receivers Bolden and Villamin. The Beavers have seen flashes of success in the running game. Given UA’s undersized defensive line, it is probably safe to assume that they will try to establish the running game early. This is an offense that is averaging nearly 24 points a game and is capable of big plays.
The good news is McMaryion is more of a pocket passer than dual-threat. The Wildcats have had a tough season, but they have especially struggled with containment of scrambling QBs. Utah’s Troy Williams rushed for 73 yards, USC’s Sam Darnold went for 54 yards, and Colorado’s Sefo Luifau also gained 54 on the ground. There were many reasons UA lost all three of those matchups, but a QB that can extend drives with his feet is one of the bigger reasons.
Much like Colorado, this game was probably circled as a surefire win at the beginning of the season. This is a very winnable game, but we have to remain cautiously optimistic. Offensively speaking for UA, the passing game must get going early. It would be nice to see more of a balance between Brandon Dawkins and Anu Solomon rather than what we saw on Saturday night.
We very well may be looking at a shoot out next week so get your popcorn ready.
This game is scheduled to start at 8:30 PM MT (7:30 PT), and will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.