Oregon State report: Beavers might be down a QB

Jonathan Smith is in his first season as head coach at Oregon State.Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Beavers have done well with 2-QB system so far

When Oregon State opens Pac-12 conference play at home against Arizona on Saturday, odds are most eyes will be glued to what each starting quarterback is doing.

Oregon State (1-2) has drawn plenty of attention for its effective use of two quarterbacks so far this season, more or less splitting snaps between senior Jake Luton and sophomore Conor Blount, while junior Khalil Tate has been the main offensive weapon for Arizona (1-2).

"I think we've got two guys that have shown we can move the football with," OSU coach Jonathan Smith said Monday during his weekly press conference. "I do think the way things will play out I think we need two guys to play in games."

Smith might just have one available Saturday, though.

Luton did not practice Sunday or Tuesday, when he was in a walking boot because of a sprained ankle suffered last Saturday. It could be a late-week or game-time decision on Luton, a 6-foot-7 junior who began his college career at Idaho.

Blount and Luton combined for 459 yards through the air in the 37-35 loss at Nevada, the highest passing total for Oregon State since October 2013. For the season the Beavers are producing 314.7 passing yards per game, way up from last year's 196.3 average.

Tate has thrown for 887 yards and six touchdowns, setting career highs for yardage in Arizona's last two games. That's almost a complete 180 from what he did in 2017, when he ran for more than 1,400 yards including an FBS quarterback-record 327 yards against Colorado last October.

"I think it is impressive with the way he's throwing it," Smith said of Tate, who only attempted seven passes against OSU last November (while running for 206 yards and two TDs).

"He's still moving around, now. He's still scary, extending plays. Maybe even scarier is that he's throwing it so well and you've got to contain him in the pocket."

OSU came ever so close to ending a pair of long losing streaks last week, nearly picking up its first road win since 2014. The Beavers rallied from a 23-point deficit and had a chance to win but Jordan Choukair's 33-yard field goal as time expired was no good.

A win against Arizona would be Oregon State's first against an FBS team in 14 games and snap a nine-game losing streak in Pac-12 play.


--RB Jermar Jefferson is seventh in FBS in rushing, averaging 130.33 yards per game, tops among true freshmen in the country. He has carried the ball 47 times for 334 yards and six touchdowns in Oregon State's last two games. "He's a good player for us, he needs to touch the ball," coach Jonathan Smith said. "I know I don't want to have him carrying it 25 times the next four straight games."

--WR Isaiah Hodgins had 14 catches for 200 yards and two TDs against Nevada, tying the school single-game receptions mark. The sophomore's 299 receiving yards this season are already more than he had in 2017.

--WR Timmy Hernandez pulled in 11 receptions for 116 yards against Nevada, giving the Beavers a pair of receivers with 10-plus catches for the first time since 2008.

--WR Trevon Bradford, who injured his shoulder against Southern Utah in Week 2 and missed the Nevada game, could return this week. He has nine receptions for 151 yards and three touchdowns this season.

--TE Noah Togiai, Oregon State's leading receiver in 2017, has an "outside chance" of playing Saturday after missing the first three games with a knee injury, according to coach Jonathan Smith.