2017 DuckNews Preview – Oregon State

No one associated with the Beaver football program could have imagined the 2017 season taking this kind of a turn, especially with how last year ended.

Gary Andersen led his Oregon State team to an emotional 34-24 win over the Ducks in the 120th Civil War. That same coach wouldn’t be around the see the 121st Civil War.

Oregon State was left to pick up the pieces after a 1-5 start and Andersen suddenly resigning out of nowhere. Cornerbacks coach Cory Hall took over on an interim basis and while he definitely gave the Beavers a new aggressive attitude, that hasn’t turned into wins.

The Beavers have come close to upsetting teams such as Colorado, Stanford, but the past two games against Arizona and ASU not been close.

Oregon is hoping Hall’s first win doesn’t come Saturday inside Autzen Stadium.

“It’s two teams that don’t like each other. We’ve had a bitter taste in our mouth for an entire year and I don’t think our guys want that taste anymore,” said Oregon coach Willie Taggart, who will be coaching in his first Civil War. “We have to come out and ready to roll.”

The two teams are scheduled to fight it out once again at 4 pm on ESPN2. A win would mean so much for either school, but for very different reasons.

Oregon is coming off a huge 48-28 win over Arizona, a win that breathed new life into the season with the return of quarterback Justin Herbert. The Ducks proved they have a completely different offensive attack with the sophomore from Eugene taking the snaps.

“I’ve watched Oregon tape with Herbert and without him and it’s the same game plan,” Hall said. “He’s more comfortable. You can tell that with the team, they feel like they have their head back. The energy they have behind him allowed them to have success against Arizona.”

At one time just being bowl eligible was in doubt for the Ducks. But now an 8-5 record is very much in the realm of possibility with the No. 1 recruiting class on the verge of signing this coming off-season.

With the future bright in Eugene, it’s that cloudy in Corvallis. An upset would go a long way to lift some of those clouds, however. According to Hall, the Beavers (1-10) will need to be in the game right from the coin toss.

“We’ll need to start fast. We’ve had two second halves where we have moved the ball and it’s been pretty hard to stop us,” he said.

One way to start fast would be to rely on the legs of both tailbacks, Ryan Nall and former Duck Thomas Tyner.

Nall, a redshirt junior who was an all-conference honorable mention last season, has rushed for 769 yards (77 ypg) and eight touchdowns. The 236-pounder from Sandy, Ore. is a load to bring down for any defense.

The yin to Nall’s yang is Tyner, who will be one of just a slim group of players who has played on both sides of the Civil War.

Tyner played two seasons in Eugene, from 2013-14, where he gained 1,284 yards on 228 attempts (5.6 ypc), scored 15 touchdowns (14 rushing) and caught 25 passes for 201 yards. He also scored against the Beavers in a 36-35 nail biting Oregon win in 2013.

But Oregon will be featuring a good tailback of its own in Royce Freeman.

The senior ranks ninth all-time in NCAA history in rushing yards with 5,499 and holds school records for rushing yards, all-purpose yards (6,293) rushing touchdowns (58), total touchdowns (62), points scored (372), 100-yard rushing games (30) and rushing attempts (928).

It’s going to be the last time Freeman will be able to perform in front of the home fans and he knows it.

“It’s going to be a special one,” he said. “I’ve played here for quite a while and the fans have been nothing but supportive.”

   ~ Don Smalley