This coming Sunday will mark a year since the last victory for Oregon State football, a 35-32 win over FCS-opponent Portland State with a touchdown in the final 1:08 of the contest.
It was a bright spot in the Beavers 1-11 season in the same way that a penlight is bright spot in a city-wide blackout.
They were outscored by a combined total 516-248 last year. Their quarterback suffered a thoracic spine fracture. At the end of the season, they made yet another coaching change.
Oregon State has 11 fifth-year seniors, and they will have played for four different head coaches during their time in Corvallis: Mike Riley, Gary Anderson, Cory Hall, and now Jonathan Smith.
Smith is a former Beavers player (one of three on the staff), who has brought a great deal of optimism.
He's being helped by Riley, who following his dismissal from Nebraska, has returned to advise the Beavers as a consultant.
Also back is the quarterback who suffered a thoracic spine fracture. Jake Luton is a 6'7", 230-pound senior with four games of experience. He has completed 83 of 135 career passes with four touchdowns, four interceptions and 853 total yards.
Oregon State fans are excited to have landed Tim Tibesar as their defensive coordinator. He spent the past three seasons working with Wisconsin linebackers, helping the Badgers finish in the top ten of total defense every one of those years. He was the position coach of, among others, NFL players T.J. Watt (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Joe Schobert (Cleveland Browns).
However, there still promises to be challenges on both sides of the ball.
The offense is trying to move to an up-tempo style, sure to be a test for an offensive line which according to starting left guard and acapella singer from the Poly Notes, Gus Lavaka, Jr., has been trying to slim down a bit. Lavaka is 6'4", 353 pounds. Next to him will be left tackle Blake Brandel, Jr., who checks in at 6'7", 307.
Defensively, the Beavers are sticking with a base 3-4 scheme, but they have so many injuries in the back end that they've been moving wide receivers into the secondary just to have the personnel necessary to run their 2-4-5 nickel package.
Add in minor annoyances, such as wildfires out west forcing Oregon State to monitor air quality during practice, and while the team might be moving in the right direction, there has already been some adversity along the way...with even more to come this Saturday at noon, when the Beavers meet the Buckeyes.
- Oregon State's school president, Edward Ray was a longtime member of the faculty at Ohio State (1970-2003). Among the positions he held: economics department chair, provost, and executive vice president.
- The Beavers simulated a road trip during their fall camp. They went to Bend, Oregon, spent a couple days there, then held a scrimmage.
- My favorite line from the team's media guide? "In 1921 there was an attempt to make a live Beaver, “Bevo”, into the school mascot, but with little success."