One year ago the Portland State Vikings put a scare into the Oregon State Beavers before falling 35-32 on their way to an oh and eleven season, few of which were as close as that near upset in Corvallis.
So far in 2018 fortunes haven’t changed much for the FCS school in downtown Portland. Annihilated 72-19 by Nevada in their opener, the Vikings aren’t likely to snap their losing string Saturday in Autzen with a defense that allowed 636 total yards against the Wolfpack.
Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi completed only 16 of 16 passes but averaged over 21 yards per catch against the porous Viking secondary. To be fair, Portland State has only a pair of seniors in the second with as many as eight freshmen populating the depth chart. The task gets exponentially more difficult against the Ducks.
It is also fair to note the Viking offense did nothing to keep the defense off the field being forced to punt 11 times.
Sophomore Davis Alexander started the last three games of the season in 2017 and completed 13 of 32 attempts for 224 yards and a pair of scores against the Wolfpack, giving up one interception.
Second team All-Big Sky Conference tight end Charlie Tamoepeau – a 6’3” 240 pound junior– was Alexander’s primary target in the opener with three catches for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one from 75 yards out.
The Vikings used a two-prong approach at running against Nevada with Darian Green and Sergio Hoffman splitting 21 carries between them with Green’s 40-yards leading the team in rushing. Alexander netted 20 yards on ten carries, mostly in flights of self preservation against the Nevada pass rush.
He can expect much the same against Oregon’s defense. Coordinator Jim Leavitt will certainly look to disrupt the Viking offense with a mix of coverages and a decided advantage in match-ups in the trenches.
Bowling Green took advantage of some early sloppiness on the part of the Oregon defense and put together a pair of scoring drives while the Duck offense misfired on their two opportunities.
Struggling offensively and giving up points by the bucketful as the Vikings are make that an unlikely scenario in Saturday’s contest. It would be hard to imagine anything other than the Ducks taking a commanding lead early in the game and employing the full depth chart for at least the second half with a primary goal of keeping everyone healthy.
The game will be a homecoming for three of the Vikings. Sophomore linebacker Nicolas Ah Sam
was a two-sport star for the Springfield Millers before joining the Viks. As a freshman, Ah Sam started the last six games of the season at outside linebacker, recording 38 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Brothers Ryan and Zach Phillipo – both offensive linemen and graduates of Sheldon High are also on the roster. Ryan spent the 2017 season with Oregon as a walk on before transferring last spring.
~ Rick Morgan