CORVALLIS, Ore. — After losing the team’s home opener to Northern Alabama, the Southern Utah football team travel northwest to take on the Oregon State Beavers.
Junior Chris Helbig earned the starting quarterback position in camp, and took every snap against Northern Alabama. Helbig played well and looks to improve on his first game as a Division One starter.
Senior Ty Rutledge had seven catches for 161 yards and a touchdown last week. Running back James Felila ran for 87 yards against UNA and will look to have a strong game against a stingier Pac-12 defense.
Oregon State is coming off of a 1-11 season where their only win came in a nail-biter against fellow FCS school, Portland State. The Beavers opened their 2018 campaign losing 77-31 to Ohio State.
Head Coach, Jonathan Smith, looks to gain his first win in his home opener after taking over the team this season. He leads an inexperienced team who had 31 players suit up for their first Division One game last week in Columbus, Ohio.
Artavis Pierce is the player to watch heading into the matchup. Pierce made two eighty yard touchdown runs last week, and finished the game with 168 yards on the ground.
OSU quarterback, Conor Blount, struggled to move the ball against the potent Buckeye defense but will look to move the ball against the Thunderbird secondary.
The Beavers are coming off of their worst season in program history and are in a transition period under Coach Smith. Southern Utah was frustrated by the close loss last week and the players are hungry to prove themselves. Coach DeMario Warren would like nothing more than to bounce back and compete against an FBS school. There definitely is a talent gap between a Pac-12 squad and a Big Sky squad, but this matchup reeks of upset potential.
The three keys to the Thunderbirds have a chance at an upset in Corvallis are:
- Linebackers Chinedu Ahanonu and Taylor Nelson need to lead the front seven in slowing down Pierce.
- Helbig needs to be consistent on third downs. The increased speed of a Pac-12 defense will probably mean it will be harder to run and Helbig will need to convert third and longs.
- If the D-Line can force pressure on Blount they might be able to force turnovers and take pressure off of Jalen Russell and Taelin Webb at cornerback.
The game will be Saturday, Sept. 8th at 6 pm. Students can watch the game on the Pac-12 network, online at pac-12.com/live, or listen on KSUB 590 AM.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: Easton Bowring