No. 18 Oregon State football opens 2023 season on the road

Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (#5) speaks to reporters after day two of Oregon State Footballs fall camp practice on Aug. 9, 2023. Uiagalelei was named the starting quarterback for the Beavers ahead of their season opener against San Jose State University.
Oregon State quarterback DJ Uiagalelei (#5) speaks to reporters after day two of Oregon State Football’s fall camp practice on Aug. 9, 2023. Uiagalelei was named the starting quarterback for the Beavers ahead of their season opener against San Jose State University.
Sam Nicklous

Beaver Football enters game week ahead of the season opener at San Jose State University with a new starting quarterback and is set for a showdown against some familiar faces. 

The Beavers have a new starting quarterback ahead of the 2023 season in D.J. Uiagalelei, having been named starter. Former starting quarterback Ben Gulbranson, who went 7-1 as a starter last season, is expected to be Uiagalelei’s backup.   

Uiagalelei was named the starting quarterback in the final week of fall camp, which is the earliest head coach Jonathan Smith named a starting quarterback.

“He just continued to get better and better. I do think there was a bit of separation; we had two big scrimmages, and he played the best in those two.” Smith said, “The separator in our mind was those two scrimmages.”

Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren also mentioned after Wednesday’s practice that the first scrimmage is where Uiagalelei had begun to make the push to be the starting quarterback for the Beavers.

“I was thankful for coach Smith to be able to trust me to start game one,” Uiagalelei said on being named the starter, “I was happy that coach Smith gave me the opportunity; I want to go out there and show them that I can be the best teammate that I can be.”

Smith alluded that the backup battle between Gulbranson and Aidan Chiles was very close and would be decided throughout the course of practice in the lead-up to game day.

The game between the No. 18 Oregon State Beavers (0-0) and the San Jose State Spartans (0-1) will kick off at 12:30 p.m. at CEFCU Stadium. The game will be televised on CBS. 

Oregon State currently leads the series 4-2 against the Spartans. The last time these two teams played each other was back in 2015 when OSU beat the Spartans 35-21 in Corvallis. The last time the OSU played in San Jose was back in 1988 when the Beavers won 41-27 over the Spartans.

The Beavers enter this week with a nearly healthy roster; the only injury is to kicker Everett Hayes, who was dealing with a groin issue in the final weeks of fall camp.

Hayes and fellow kicker Atticus Sappington competed in fall camp for this season’s starting kicker position. According to Smith, Sappington won the starting job due to availability and his fall camp performance.

“He did win the job; that was because Everett’s availability was less and less, Atticus had great camp and scrimmages. He was really accurate on field goals and kickoffs, and he’s up starting game one,” Smith said.

Other close position battles, according to Smith, were the third cornerback spot and the second inside linebacker spot. Those two positions went to cornerback Tyrice Ivy Jr. and Illinois transfer inside linebacker Calvin Hart Jr.

“I think we had guys step up when we needed guys to step up, and (I’m) excited to see what they do Sunday,” Defensive coordinator Trent Bray said of the performances of Ivy and Hart in fall camp.

The matchup also has some familiar faces for Beavers fans on the San Jose coaching staff and roster.

Current Spartans head coach Brent Brennan was on the OSU coaching staff from 2011 until 2016. Other San Jose staff with Oregon State ties are defensive backs coach Derrick Odum, offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven, offensive line coach Josh Oglesby, defensive line coach Joe Seumalo, and former OSU starting quarterback and SJSU offensive analyst Lyle Moevao.

“I know a lot of these guys.” Smith said, “Josh (Oglesby) was here when we arrived. (I) worked with him for a short time. I know both Lyle and Brent pretty well; those guys I know the best out of the crew.”

Another former Beaver player that fans will recognize is SJSU linebacker Matthew Tago, who played for Oregon State from 2018 to 2020 before joining the Spartans.  

The Spartans enter this week with a game under their belts against USC, a 56-28 loss for SJSU.  

“There’s some advantages of being able to see their first game on tape, but I think there are disadvantages as well of them getting their first game and being able to work out some of those kinks as well as the mechanics that come with that.” Smith said, “Usually, you make a big jump from week one to week two when you do that.”.

Despite the loss, the Spartans have a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball who shined in the loss and who could pose challenges for the Beavers.

Spartans quarterback Chevan Cordeiro threw for 198 yards and three touchdown passes in the loss to USC. Cordeiro should also be familiar to Oregon State, as he faced the Beavers in 2021 when he was the starting quarterback at the University of Hawaii in a 45-27 win for Oregon State at home.

Cordeiro is a threat in both the passing game and the running game, rushing for 52 yards against USC. 

Running back Quali Conley and wide receiver Nick Nash are also focal points of the Spartan’s offensive attack..Nash had three touchdowns and 89 receiving yards against the Trojans defense.

Safeties Chase Williams and Tre Jenkins have some of the biggest impact on the San Jose State defense, along with defensive lineman Soane Toila.

For Oregon State, a win would be the first would mark a first season-opening road game since 1999, Dennis Erickson’s first season coaching OSU and when Smith was a quarterback for the Beavers.

The Beavers earned a 28-13 win over the University of Nevada and finished the 1999 season with a 7-5 record.

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