Takeaways from the Oregon State Beavers Spring Football Game

Oregon State hosted its annual spring football game on Saturday, where fans can catch a preview of the Beavers ahead of the 2022 season.

Oregon State, which finished 7-6 last season, will open its season Sept. 3 at home against Boise State. The Pac-12 opener is Sept. 24 at home against USC.

Here are five takeaways from the Beavers’ spring game.

1: Quarterbacks still in the works

April 16, 2022;  Corvallis, OR, USA;  Oregon State Beavers quarterback Ben Gulbranson (17) rolls out of the pocket to pass during the Oregon State Spring Football game at Reser Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback play got off to a slow start, as Chance Nolan and Tristan Gebbia went 1 for 7 in the first two series.

The Beavers played three quarters, with Ben Gulbranson also seeing the action, and the group was largely unimpressive.

Nolan, starting last year, was not sharp, missing an open Tyjon Lindsey in the end zone.

Gebbia finally found the end zone on the final play from the scrimmage, hitting Silas Bolden on a screen pass which he took home.

Gulbranson looked the best there, throwing a touchdown pass to Bolden and showing the kind of arm strength that can stretch the field.

But he likely leaves spring training as the third QB on the depth chart.

Gulbranson is a redshirt freshman who played one game in the 2020 pandemic season, throwing for 65 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State.

On the Pac-12 network telecast, head coach Jonathan Smith addressed the quarterback situation.

“I think Chance took a step (forward) in his game this spring,” he said. “We are happy with the three guys.”

Nolan completed 64.2% of his passes for 2,677 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

The Beavers ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in passing yards per game last season with 216.9. They will need to improve on that to be a contender in the North Division.

2: Running backs are impressive

April 16, 2022;  Corvallis, OR, USA;  Oregon State Beavers running back Damien Martinez (6) heads the ball during the Oregon State Spring Football game at Reser Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

After a slow start offensively, the Beavers finally moved the ball to the ground.

With DeShaun Fenwick and Damien Martinez, the Beavers should have a solid 1-2 punch in the running game.

Fenwick, a junior, rushed for 448 yards and four touchdowns last season as the No. 2 back.

Martinez, a true freshman, impressed the coaching staff this spring.

He’s a three-star freshman from Lewisville, Texas, who rushed for 1,712 yards and 26 touchdowns as a high school kid.

Martinez scored a touchdown in the scrum and generally looked impressive.

It won’t take Beavers fans long to find out his name.

Oregon State finished third in the Pac-12 in rushing offense last season with 212.4 yards per game.

The running game will continue to drive the Beavers offense.

3: Defense seems improved

April 16, 2022;  Corvallis, OR, USA;  Oregon Beavers wide receiver John Dunmore (14) heads the ball against the defense of outside linebacker Ryan Franke (9) and defensive back Skyler Thomas (19) during the Spring State Football game Oregon at Reser Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the quarterback’s struggles Saturday was due to the Beavers’ improved defense under coordinator Trent Bray.

Bray, who also coaches linebackers, was elevated to defensive coordinator last season, and he brings an aggressive mindset.

Overall last season, Oregon State was ninth in the conference in total defense (387.4 yards per game) and sixth in scoring defense (25.8 ppg).

In the scrimmage, the aggressive style of the defense made quarterbacks uncomfortable, and outside linebacker Ryan Franke forced and recovered a fumble.

It’s not yet known how much the defense will improve this season, but expect it to be better.

4: Salem area players see the action

April 16, 2022;  Corvallis, OR, USA;  Oregon State Beavers running back Damir Collins (13) is tackled by Oregon State Beavers inside linebacker Junior Walling (14) during the Oregon State Spring Football game at Reser Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Three Salem-area players — receiver Anthony Gould, linebacker Junior Walling and offensive lineman Nick Suing — saw action.

Oregon State expects big things from Gould, who is a sophomore from West Salem.

Gould had 13 catches for 185 yards and a touchdown last season.

Walling, a redshirt freshman from McNary, should see action this season on defense and special teams.

Walling had an excellent goal-line tackle in Saturday’s game against Damir Collins.

He showed the same intensity he displayed for years playing for McNary.

Suing, a Kennedy sophomore, has yet to play in a game for the Beavers, but has seen the field in the scrimmage.

Tyler Voltin, a redshirt freshman offensive lineman from Regis, didn’t appear to see action on Saturday.

5: OSU should be a bowl team

April 16, 2022;  Corvallis, OR, USA;  Oregon State Beavers defensive back Ben Gulbranson (17) warms up before the Oregon State Spring Football game at Reser Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Beavers should be a bowl team again this season.

With a veteran quarterback, strong running game and improved defense, Oregon State should continue to push forward as a program.

That said, the start of the season will be difficult.

They open against Boise State, and after games against Fresno State and Montana State, they open conference play against USC and Utah.

USC is expected to be a Pac-12 title contender in its first season under head coach Lincoln Riley, and Utah won the conference last season.

It will be important for the Beavers to start strong in these games to set the tone for the season. But it will be difficult.

With the quarterback’s inconsistent play, don’t expect the Beavers to be a contender in the North Division, but the future looks bright at that position.

With another year of development, Gulbranson could be a great starting quarterback for Oregon State, and could potentially have them in contention to make the Pac-12 title shot.

2022 Oregon State Calendar

(All times to be determined)

Sept. 3: vs. Boise State

September 10: at Fresno State

September 17: against Montana State, at Providence Park (Portland)

September 24: vs. USC

October 1: in Utah

October 8: at Stanford

Oct. 15: vs. Washington State

October 22: vs. Colorado

November 4: in Washington

November 12: against California

November 19: at Arizona State

November 25: vs. Oregon


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