By Kevin Hampton

Corvallis Gazette-Times

Next up

No. 20 Stanford at Oregon St.

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

TV: ESPN Line: Stanford by 23

CORVALLIS — Oregon State is coming off a big offensive performance against Colorado.

Will the Beavers be able to keep it going Thursday night when they take on No. 20 Stanford?

Teams have been able to move the ball against the Cardinal (4-1 Pac-12, 5-2 overall). Stanford gives up 416 yards a game and is particularly susceptible to the run, allowing an average of 195.4 yards.

That was evident in Stanford’s most recent game. The Cardinal controlled Oregon in a 49-7 Pac-12 win, holding the Ducks to 303 total yards.

Oregon was able to rush for 276 yards, but the pass game was virtually nonexistent, which was largely due to the Ducks’ quarterback situation.

That seems to be good news for the Beavers (0-4, 1-6), who want to establish the run. OSU rushed for 280 yards in their loss to the Buffaloes and would gladly grind away the game on the ground against the Cardinal.

Not so fast, says OSU co-offensive coordinator T.J. Woods, who pointed out that iron sharpens iron and the Cardinal defensive front has practiced against the Stanford offensive line — one of the best in the nation — since spring ball.

“They’ve got a really good scheme in my opinion and they’ve got really good players in my opinion,” Woods said. “It’s going to take a really strong effort from us up front to be able to do what we want to do.

“And that’s a challenge and that’s exciting, and to me that’s why you play in the Pac-12, because you want to play against fronts like this.”

Stanford is missing a few big names from last season’s defense.

Defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who was a first-team all-Pac-12 selection and the winner of the Morris Trophy as the top defensive lineman in the conference, is now with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

Blake Martinez was a first-team all-Pac-12 linebacker and now plays for the Green Bay Packers.

That does not mean the cupboard is bare.

“They’ve got good players everywhere. They’re Stanford,” Woods said. “They can recruit nationally, so they’re going to have tremendous talent from one through 11, in my opinion, and that’s how it’s been since we’ve been here and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. I think coach (David) Shaw and his staff do a great job of that.”

Stepping up for the Cardinal are defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and strong safety Justin Reid.

Phillips is 10th in the Pac-12 with 50 total tackles, including five for loss and 3.5 sacks. Reid has 46 total stops, 3.5 for loss and five interceptions.

“They’re stout in the box,” Woods said. “The Phillips kid is a good player. He’s really developed. I’m real impressed with the way he moves around this year compared to last year.”

“He’s just a workhorse. He’s a grinder, he’s physical, he’s big. I think he’s active for his size and you watch the tape this year and he’s a different player than he was last year for sure. He’s a real guy this year.”

Linebacker Bobby Okereke has 42 tackles, two for loss, two sacks and three quarterback hurries.

Reid leads a secondary that is the heart of Stanford’s defense, according to Oregon State co-offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven.

The Cardinal are fifth in the conference in pass defense and second in interceptions with 11.

“That’s a really good group back there,” McGiven said. “In my opinion, kind of makes that defense go. You say most defenses start from the front and work their way to the back end. I think that back end allows their defense to do a lot of different things.

“Any time you have the ability to close middle and play some man coverage and those guys give them the ability to do that. They’ve got length out there, athleticism, they can run. So that’s definitely a big challenge for us.”

Tight end Noah Togiai said the Beavers need to run the ball in order to get the passing game going against Stanford.

“I think we just need to ride the momentum from Colorado and continue to run the ball like we did and kind of force them to stack the box and that’ll kind of open up the passing game,” Togiai said. “Our receivers will carry the momentum and make plays like they did.”

What Stanford’s opponents have not done well is put points on the board. Stanford is fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing 22 points a game.

18550976