ASU Football: Five players to watch on Oregon State

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Darell Garretson #10 of the Oregon State Beavers throws a pass during the second half of the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Darell Garretson #10 of the Oregon State Beavers throws a pass during the second half of the college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on November 11, 2017 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

ASU football welcomes in the Oregon State Beavers for their first Pac-12 home game of the season. OSU is in the midst of a rebuild under a new head coach.

Entering the 2018 season, the Oregon State Beavers were looking to improve after what proved to be an atrocious season in Corvallis. The Beavers finished the season 1-11 with their only win of the season coming against FCS opponent Portland State by a margin of 35-32.

Now under the direction of first-year head coach Jonathan Smith, who was a former quarterback at Oregon State in 2000, the Beavers have been a slightly more competitive team heading into their Week Five matchup against Arizona State with a record of 1-3.

The Sun Devils will enter the matchup as heavy favorites against the Beavers after a 2-2 start to the season including a win over Michigan State who was ranked No. 15 the time of the defeat. In order for Oregon State to get their first win in Pac-12 play since 2016, here are the five key players the Beavers will have to rely on against ASU.

Conor Blount

The redshirt sophomore quarterback will be an integral part of the Beavers’ offense as they look to pick apart a Sun Devil defense that has shown promise of being a top secondary in the Pac-12.

ASU currently ranks 79th in the nation in passing defense allowing 215 yards a game while racking up three interceptions to five passing touchdowns. The Arizona State defense has also been effective at sacking the quarterback as they enter the matchup with a total of 13 sacks through four games.

Blount enters the matchup with just over 700 yards through the first four games of the season and a touchdown to interception ratio of six to one with a passer rating of 156.7.

The sophomore’s best performance this season came in the team’s lone win of the season against Southern Utah where Blount finished with 226 yards on 15-of-22 passing. Blount will look to avoid the pass rush of the Sun Devils and challenge corners Kobe Williams and Chase Lucas of ASU in order to lead the Beavers to an upset.

Jermar Jefferson

The freshman back will be an essential part of the Oregon State offensive attack that will be looking to expose the maroon and gold’s rush defense similarly to San Diego State. The Aztecs ran over the then ranked No. 23 Sun Devils collecting over 300 yards on the ground in an upset win over ASU.

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Jefferson has made an enormous impact on the Beavers running game that ranked just outside the Top 100 in rushing a season ago at 137 yards a game. OSU currently is ranked No. 55 in the nation at a mark of 183.5 yards a game on the ground due to the contributions of Jefferson.

The first year back heads into the matchup against the Sun Devils at a mark of 473 yards while averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Jefferson’s top game of the season came in week two against SUU where the freshman gained 238 yards on the ground on 22 carries to go along with four touchdowns. OSU will need another phenomenal game from Jefferson to be able to upset Arizona State.

Isaiah Hodgins

The 6-4 receiver for the Beavers will look to do his best N’Keal Harry impression as his performance in Saturday’s matchup will be crucial in deciding the outcome of the game.

Hodgins will face both Lucas and Williams of the Sun Devils who have commendable in the passing attack. The duo has combined for 30 tackles on the season with Lucas pulling in one of the team’s three interceptions this season against Washington on the first play from scrimmage. The experienced corners will look to lock down the taller receiver as Williams is 5-10 and Lucas is 6-feet.

The sophomore receiver enters the game having racked up 318 yards on the season with over half coming in the team’s week three matchup against Nevada. In the two-point loss, Hodgins finished the game with 14 receptions for 200 yards and two touchdowns. Hodgins will have to have a repeat performance in order to put Oregon State in position to put enough points on the board to upset Arizona State.

Jalen Moore

Moore comes in as one of OSU’s most experienced defensive backs after seeing action in 22 games, including starting 16 through his first two seasons. The safety entered 2018 with 94 tackles, two for a loss, four pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and a forced fumble.

The junior provided most of his contributions in his sophomore year where he started 10 of the team’s 12 games. During the 2017 campaign, Moore was second on the team with 75 total tackles, 50 of which were solo.

This season, Moore has totaled 34 tackles alongside two pass breakups with a tackle for loss. He has been a vital part of the Beavers pass defense that currently ranks 104th in the nation, allowing 259.8 yards through the air on the year with 11 touchdowns allowed and two interceptions.

Moore will be put to the test this week as he will look to slow down the offensive attack of Arizona State who struggled to throw the ball a week ago with 104 passing yards. The junior safety will look to slow down the likes of Harry, Frank Darby, and Kyle Williams in order to limit the Sun Devils offense.

Shawn Wilson

Joining Moore in the secondary will be junior Shawn Wilson who has entered 2018 having played in 19 games including five starts. Through the first 19 games, Wilson totaled 38 tackles, two for loss, an interception alongside five pass deflections.

The junior bursted on the scene last season finishing the season with 34 of his career 38 tackles including 23 solo tackles. Moore also picked an interception with three of his five career pass deflections. The cornerback secured a career-best nine tackles against Washington State and picked up an interception against Arizona in his sophomore season.

Moore has played in all four games this year for the Beavers in route to 19 tackles on the season, with one interception and two pass deflections. The junior cornerback will be put to the test this weekend as the 5-9 cornerback will be challenged by facing the 6-4 Harry for the Sun Devils. Harry leads ASU in receiving on the year at 335 yards with four touchdowns but was limited to five catches for 20 yards against Washington a week ago.

These five players will be essential to Oregon State’s success against Arizona State in Tempe on Saturday.

Expect the Beavers to use the likes of Blount, Hodgins, and Jefferson on the offensive side of the ball to drive the ball against the tricky 3-3-5 scheme of the Sun Devils.

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On the defensive side of the ball, it will be a secondary battle as Moore and Wilson look to limit the ASU passing attack in route to a possible upset in favor of OSU.