Jake Luton

Oregon State football: What to know about the Beavers spring game

Oregon State football: What to know about the Beavers spring game

The Oregon State football team left the 2018 season with a lot of questions.

Putting their 2-10 season behind them, the Beavers will showcase their newly-improved defense, excellent depth at the receiver position and of course, the battle for starting quarterback on Saturday at the Oregon State Spring Game. 

Beavers fans can take in the team's annual scrimmage, which concludes Oregon State's spring practice period, before the season starts on August 30.

The QB race heats up

Jake Luton has looked sharp as of late and is the obvious frontrunner for the starting quarterback nod come August. Luton, who has started nine games for the Beavers since his first season due to injuries, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June. In his time with Oregon State, Luton has passed for 2,513 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Tristan Gebbia split first-team reps with Luton in the Beavers last full practice ahead of this Saturday’s game. Gebbia was the first QB to take the field, connecting on two of his first three passes to I’Shawn Stewart. Luton took more snaps in team drills than Gebbia, but must step up in order to protect his role.

The spring game should give Beaver fans a clearer idea of which of the two players will be named starting quarterback for the 2019 season. The decision could be made as soon as the conclusion of spring camp.

Deep receiver depth on display

All Pac-12 Honorable Mentions Isaiah Hodgins and Trevon Bradford were both sidelined for the Dam City Showcase, but Oregon State’s receivers didn’t miss a beat. Keep your eyes on the young Beavers, who are vying for a spot in the highly-competive receiver group. 

Underclassmen Jesiah Irish and Anthony Gould made their presence known in Saturday’s showcase and emerged as game-changers. 5-foot-11, 172-pound Irish gave Beaver fans a glimpse of the future, speeding past the cornerback to catch a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jake Luton. Irish saw the field two times last season, but didn’t exceed the maximum four games to preserve his redshirt.

Gould also stood out on Saturday, turning a long catch and run into a 75-yard touchdown play. The 5-foot-10, 180 pounder out of West Salem has the explosiveness and speed to compete for a spot in the receiver rotation.

Hodgins, who is working through a minor leg injury, and Bradford, who sported a boot to protect a broken bone in his right foot, are expected to be ready to go come preseason.

Building the dam on defense 

Oregon State's defense was statistically one of the worst in the FBS ranks in 2018. OSU allowed 45.7 points per game, approximately 12 points per game worst than any other team in the conference and they know it's time to change that. 

The Beavers are expecting some help from their incoming recruiting class, which includes three-star linebacker Omar Speights, three-star defensive lineman Evan Bennett and transfer Jordan Whittley. Sophomore Isaac Hodgins will be returning to the D-line after playing in all 12 games and making 11 starts last season. With three seasons under his belt, senior outside linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray, one of the squad's anticipated co-captains, will bring experience to the the table. 

Here's more information on Oregon State's Spring Game: 

Where: Reser Stadium

When: Saturday, April 20 at 11:00 a.m. in Corvallis, Oregon

More details: The scrimmage game is open to the public, and there will be an autograph session beginning at 9 a.m. on the concourse. Posters will be provided, with one autograph per person. Fans can also enter to win a $200 concession voucher for the regular season.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton will return in 2019

usatsi_11536168.jpg
usa today img.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton will return in 2019

The Dam just got a whole lot stronger. In what was going to be one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2019 Oregon State football season, is now a strong foundation: senior quarterback Jake Luton is to return for another season at Oregon State.

How is this possible for the 22-year-old Luton to still be able to play? Glad you asked: Luton is going to get his medical redshirt approved, granting him another year of eligibility. Luton, who turns 23 in April, will have one more chance at showing off his skills to pursue his NFL dreams to what has already been an up-and-down college career riddled with injury.

First, there was that nasty shoulder-to-helmet contact hit on Luton at Washington State in 2017 that carted Luton off the field and to the hospital. Luton would not play another snap for the remainder of that season. Then, during the very first series of the 2018 opener vs. Ohio State, Luton was sandwiched between two Buckeyes after just getting a throw off, resulting in another head injury. While that hit sidelined Luton for the rest of the game, he then suffered a high ankle sprain the final week of non-conference play vs. Nevada (he would miss four games after that). 

Before Oregon State:  

- Three-year starting quarterback at Marysville-Pilchuck high school in Marysville, Washington

- Used a redshirt his freshman season at the University of Idaho (2014)

- Played in four games for the Vandals as a redshirt-freshman (2015)

- Transferred to Ventura Community College in Ventura, California and was ranked among the ESPN Top 50 Junior College recruits (2016)

- Joined Oregon State in 2017 as junior. 

Why this is important:

First of all, he has experience, and tons of it. He returns to head coach Jonathan Smith for another season; he returns to a young team that needs a senior leader on offense; he returns as a teacher and leader to an already young quarterbacks group; he returns to a football community that has been down for some time to provide a glimmer of hope in Corvallis; and most importantly, he returns for himself to pursue his dreams of the NFL.

Secondly, the experience behind Luton at the quarterback position is lacking. The other quarterbacks on the Beavers’ roster? After redshirt-sophomore Conor Blount, who was to be the future of this program, announced back in November that he would transfer out of Oregon State, which now leaves junior Jack Colletto and redshirt sophomores Aidan Willard, Nick Moore, and Tristan Gebbia.

The Dynamic Duo back at it:

Luton rejoins running back Jermar Jefferson in the backfield, and if you don't know who Jefferson is, get used to hearing his name. The 5-10, 211-pound now Sophomore is the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, finished ninth overall in rushing yards and first among freshman, named to the Freshman All-America First Team, and rushed for 1,380 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

In 2018, Luton recorded 1,660 yards, threw for 10 touchdowns and four interceptions in the eight games he appeared in. Paired with a solid run game, Luton will have more opportunity to open the playbook and show off his arm in Smith’s system. 

Oregon State 2019 Schedule:

Aug 30 - Oklahoma State at Oregon State

Sept 7 - Oregon State at Hawaii

Sept 14 - Cal Poly at Oregon State

Sept 28 - Stanford at Oregon State

Oct 5 - Oregon State at UCLA

Oct 12 - Utah at Oregon State

Oct 19 - Oregon State at California

Nov 2 - Oregon State at Arizona

Nov 8 - Washington at Oregon State

Nov 16 - Arizona State at Oregon State

Nov 23 - Oregon State at Washington State

Nov 30 - Oregon State at Oregon

Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

beavsrams.jpg

Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

There are a few reasons for optimism following the first game of the Beavers season.  However, grabbing a big early season win isn’t one of them.  The Beavers came into Fort Collins as underdogs, but many felt they had what it takes to pull the upset.

That looked to be the case early on, as the Beavers were the first team to get on the scoreboard. A big strike through the air from new quarterback Jake Luton to Timmy Hernandez gave OSU the 7-0 early in the first quarter.

For much of the first half it was a well played, back-and-forth matchup, but one arguable call in the final seconds of the first half would permanently shift the momentum in favor of the Rams.

Colorado scored a touchdown to take the 24-17 lead with just 1:19 left in the half. With the clock ticking away Oregon State started to march down the field putting together a near perfect two-minute drill.

With 13 seconds on the clock, and the ball on the CSU 7-yard-line, the Beavers had time for one more play. Luton took the snap, scrambled under pressure, side armed a pass around the defense, and found the outstretched arms of a diving Noah Togiai for the tying score. Or did he?

The ruling on the field was incomplete, but was sent upstairs for video review.  It looked as if Togiai had control of the ball, with a knee inbounds, as he fell out of play. Every replay they showed looked like a touchdown. Twitter thought it was a touchdown. Television announcers thought it was a touchdown. I thought it was touchdown. But when the review was finished the referees stayed with their original call of an incomplete pass.

Oregon State settled for a field goal and headed to the locker room trailing 24-20, rather than knotted up at 24.

That play seemed to take the wind out of the Beavers sails, and swung the momentum to the home team. The Rams came out and outscored the Beavers 17-0 in the third quarter and never looked back.

The second half seemed to be nothing but a constant replay of a Beavers turnover followed by a Rams score. Interceptions, fumbles, it didn’t matter. CSU found ways to frustrate the Beavers and grind the Oregon State offense to a halt.

The Beavers looked good early, and behind Ryan Nall they had 125 yards on the ground in the first half. In the second half they managed just 30 rushing yards. That is pretty much a quick way to sum up the game for the Beavers.

But it’s not all negative for the Beavers. Despite the high number of interceptions, Jake Luton showed that for the first time since Sean Mannion was on campus, the Beavers might have some semblance of a passing game. Last season the Beavers averaged just 29.4 passing attempts and 174 yards per game. In the loss to the Rams Luton had 27 pass completions on 47 attempts, for 304 yards and two touchdowns.  Sure, he did have three interceptions, but it was still one of the better quarterback performances the Beavers have seen in some time.

The loss leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Beavers fans, but the season is still young. Now all eyes will look to the next opponent: The Portland State Vikings. Anything less than a blowout win for the Beavers and then we may want to sound the horns of concern. As we saw against CSU, the Beavers can shoot themselves in the foot and easily become their own worst enemy. Hopefully next Saturday the Beavers are playing only the Vikings, not the Vikings and themselves.

Final Score in Fort Collins: Colorado State 58 – Oregon State 27

Next Up: The Beavers open up their home schedule against the FCS Portland State Vikings. Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM, Saturday, Sept. 2nd.