The past few seasons have been far from that of the storybook variety for Oregon State’s football program. The Beavers have won seven of their last 34 games spanning over the last three seasons good for the worst win percentage in the Pac-12 during that period.
Oregon State will host the Sun Devils with a different head coach than the last time these schools met up after Gary Andersen parted ways with the program in early October.
Former cornerbacks coach and current interim head coach Cory Hall has had the Beavers playing better football of late, especially at home, but doesn’t yet have a win to show for it.
The Beavers have played two home games under their new leader and have lost both by a combined four points, so this isn’t a game to be taken lightly for ASU despite Oregon State’s 1-9 record.
If the Beavers have success this Saturday, here is who they’ll likely lean on to have it.
Darell Garreston - Senior QB
Ever since the Beavers lost their starting quarterback Jake Luton to a season-ending thoracic spine fracture against Washington State, Garreston has been the guy.
The Chandler, Ariz. native who attended Chandler High School not far from ASU transferred to Oregon State following the 2014 season from Utah State. After sitting out the 2015 season due to transfer rules, Garreston was named the started coming into last season. He made six starts before suffering a season-ending ankle injury. He then lost the starting job to Luton only to reclaim it following Luton’s injury. He has thrown for just over 1,000 yards in six starts and eight games overall this season including four starts where he couldn’t pass the 200 yard mark. He has thrown five touchdowns and four interceptions while also running for another two.
If the Beavers are to have success against ASU’s wildly inconsistent defense this weekend, Garreston will need to be an effective game manager and do what the last three quarterbacks to face the Sun Devils have done, light them up. If the ASU pass rush is effective and the run defense limits how much they can rely on their run game, Garreston could be exposed and taken advantage of, or he could put on a show in what will be his second to last college football game.
Ryan Nall - Junior RB
It’s no secret that Oregon State relies heavily on the ground game to keep their offense moving. The key factor in that plan is Sandy, Ore. native Ryan Nall.
Nall has racked up 727 yards on just 139 attempts as well as seven touchdowns so far this season in nine starts due to his absence from the USC game due to injury. Over his career, Nall has rushed for 2,133 yards on just 359 attempts good for a career average of just shy of six yards per carry. He has also punched it in the end zone 23 times as a Beaver to go along with numerous other accolades pertaining to his impressive performance thus far at Oregon State.
Nall redshirted as a freshman at Oregon State and as such watched from the sideline as the Beavers upset ASU in Corvallis the last time these two teams met up. The Sun Devil defense has allowed some big games to other top running so far this season such as Rashad Penny, Bryce Love, and Ronald Jones Jr. so keying in on Nall will be crucial if Arizona State wants to control the game and earn their sixth win of the season.
Manase Hungalu - Senior LB
The Oregon State defense has undoubtedly had it’s issues this season, allowing an average of 40.7 points per game. Hawaii native Manase Hungalu; however, has been one of the lone bright spots. Hungalu has played in every game this season for the Beavers and leads the team with 61 total tackles to this point. Coming off an 83 tackle campaign a year ago, it’s clear that he has showed no signs of slowing up racking up 2.5 sacks and two interceptions to go along with all of those tackles.
A week ago when the Oregon State defense was introduced to Arizona phenom Khalil Tate, the result was, let’s just say, humbling as the freshman ran for 206 yards and two scores on just 16 carries. In total, the Beavers allowed just 68 passing yards but they yielded 534 yards on the ground, somewhat overshadowing that statistic. Hungalu is the leader of the defense and if the Beavers want to have a chance of slowing down Demario Richard who has been on fire the last few games (477 yards in the last four games), he will need to step up and have a great performance.
No matter how you look at it, this game is a must-win for both teams. Oregon State has just one win and after this weekend has just their annual rivalry game against Oregon to try and collect win number two. For Todd Graham and ASU, this win would be number six on the year and would land the Sun Devils a bowl birth after missing out last year.
As a final tune up before the much-anticipated territorial cup in just 11 days time, this game is more than just a road game versus a 1-9 team for ASU.
If they want to have success against the Beavers and move 6-5 on the season, these are just a few of the guys they’ll want to keep an eye on.