In advance of Stanford’s Homecoming Weekend contest against Oregon State, the Daily’s Winston Shi had a conversation with OSU Daily Barometer sports editor TeJo Pack to preview the Card’s matchup against the visiting Beavers.
Winston Shi (WS): Do you think that the Beavers as a program are on an upswing or a downswing? Where do you think this program can go and what do you expect it to achieve in the near future? Can this team conceivably challenge for a conference championship this year or the next?
TeJo Pack (TP): I think that’s tough to answer. I think that this year they’re without some deep threats; I think they have some possibilities in the future as far as those positions go, but a few of those guys are freshmen, so they’re in the middle of development right now. But I think we’re going probably to lose [quarterback] Sean [Mannion] next year, so that means we’ll have a new quarterback to get into the fold and into the works. And so, to say whether they’ll be a contender for the conference when they’re in the process of rebuilding is probably a long stretch at this point. It’s if whoever they decide on at that position, that quarterback position, is able to step into those shoes and already have the experience he’s going to need, which would be highly rare for any freshman or sophomore at that point. Then maybe they would have a shot. But that’s a pretty long stretch.
WS: What do you think Oregon State needs to do in order to beat Oregon and become top dog in the state?
TP: Well, they’ve got to be a little more productive in all aspects of the game. Each game they can put some things together on offense or defense or special teams, but they never seem to be cohesive in all aspects of the game and put it all together at once. When they do, they play really well and you see a lot of positive things out of them. Those opportunities, when they come around, are few and far between. And that’s what they need to do to be able to, within the conference, within the state – and even challenge Oregon. They have to be able to play in all aspects of the game.
And they’re a completely different style from the Oregon team. Oregon’s a fast-paced offense, and Oregon State’s one of the few huddle offenses that are left in the conference. In order for them to win against a team like the Ducks, or anybody like them, they’re going to need to be good at every aspect of the game. This year they’re pretty solid on defense and have a good running game, but their passing game just hasn’t looked as spectacular as it did last year. In my mind, they need to put it all together, and then they could start contending.
WS: Oregon State played Stanford very close last year. What worked well then, and can this version of the Beavers execute the kind of gameplan that it pulled off last year in Corvallis?
TP: It’s tough to play in Corvallis, first of all. It’s a pretty rowdy stadium, and where you play always factors in as far as what happens in a football game. Oregon State was pretty solid on Stanford on defense – they held them to 20 points throughout the entire game, and Stanford had a pretty high-powered offense last year. So that’s going to be a crucial part of the game – can Oregon State contain Stanford’s offense in the game and at the same time produce points? Though they did hang in there against Stanford last year, they didn’t score a whole lot of points – I think it was only 12 points.
So the offense is going to have to come out and play. It’s the same thing I was talking about in the previous question – perform well in all aspects of the game. If they want to play against a team like Stanford, they’ve got to play a game where their offense is playing well, their defense is playing well and they execute on special teams.
WS: Arizona State had some success against the Cardinal defense after a lot of injuries; with time to throw, does Mannion have the weapons he needs to score points?
TP: Yes, I do. I think that the last game against Utah, we learned something about what they have and what they don’t have. We had a freshman receiver in [Jordan] Villamin who came out of nowhere – he had 37, I think, total yards in the season for the team, and all of a sudden, he comes out and has over 80 yards and two touchdowns, one for 72 yards. He showed that maybe there’s some threats in [Mannion’s] receiving corps now that we just aren’t aware of that we can come out and really change the game for them. And now that Victor Bolden’s back, that’s going to make a huge difference in their long passing game and their speed game too – allows for the fly sweeps and things like that to come back in play that weren’t there when Victor was gone. I think he has some people at his disposal now. Earlier in the season we saw [Rahmel] Dockery catch some long passes too, and he’s just a sophomore as well. There’s some people in the receiving end, and if he can find them, they can be a threat.
WS: I’m sure that losing Scott Crichton is going to hurt, but can OSU still pressure the Cardinal offense into mistakes? Stanford’s been more willing to use shotgun spread formations than it has been in the past; does that play into the hands of the Beavers?
TP: I think [Stanford] has their hands full. You have [cornerback] Steven Nelson in the flats, covering, and I think every team pays attention to the fact that Steven Nelson’s out there. If they do roll with a more passing offense, I think our defense is pretty solid. We have a lot of seniors on the team this year who have proven their mettle and made it through the years to become the defensive corps that they are now, with [linebacker D.J.] Alexander and [linebacker Michael] Doctor and Steven Nelson. Those guys are all in their senior year and are playing pretty well. The defense is solid this year, so if Stanford decides they’re going to go with an in-the-air attacking offense, then I think they’re going to be met with a defense that not only can pressure them at the line of scrimmage but can also cover them out in the open.
WS: How do you see the matchup turning out – do you have a prediction? What do the Cardinal need to do to win, and what about the Beavers?
TP: That’s a tough question. I think it’s going to be a really good game, and I think it’s going to be really close. I think that it depends on two things. If Oregon State can come out and execute on all sides of the ball, then I think Oregon State walks away with that game. But at the same time, like I said before, they’re playing in Stanford, and playing at somebody else’s house is always hard; if Stanford can put things together like they have earlier in the season…I think that Stanford wins by three in the end.
Contact Winston Shi at wshi94 ‘at’ stanford.edu.