Young outside linebackers tasked with stopping a dynamic Arizona rushing attack

Oregon State vs. Stanford

Cassidy Wood, Multimedia Contributor

The Beaver defense has had to adjust significantly; having a total of 6 starting defensive players out for the season due to injuries.  True freshmen Shemiah Unutoa-Whitson and Andrzej Hughes-Murray are two of multiple players that will need to step up to fill those positions.

“It’s crazy how many teammates we’ve seen get hurt,” said junior safety Brandon Arnold.  “We’ve seen so many fall down, and the next man has had to step up.”

On a brighter side, sophomore cornerback Dwayne Williams and junior outside linebacker Titus Failauga will play for the first time this weekend since getting hurt earlier in the season.

“I’m excited to get back out there,” Williams said.  “I just miss it, and I’m ready to play with my teammates again.”

The Oregon State (2-8, 1-6 Pac-12) defense will need to watch the run game – Arizona (2-8, 0-7) has been known for their ground attack, rushing for an average of 214.7 yards per game; good for second in the Pac-12.

“They want to run the ball,” said head coach Gary Andersen.  “With their running backs, with their quarterback; which is why they are one of the best run teams in our conference year in and year out.”

Oregon State will need to prepare for two quarterbacks; redshirt sophomore Brandon Dawkins, who has the most rushing yards for the Wildcats (averaging 84 per game), and Anu Solomon, who has been in and out of the lineup this season.

“We have to be very gap sound,” said Andersen.  “We need to constantly be changing the defense, switching it up, so we can keep that offensive line on eggshells.  We don’t want them to know where we’re going.  We just need to control the gaps and control the line of scrimmage, and we’ll be alright.”

Last year, the Beavers lost to the Wildcats 44-7 in Tucson, Ariz.  The game was pretty much over by the end of the second quarter; going into the half down 34-7.

“When you get the chance to go up against a team that you faced in the previous season, and they beat you pretty bad, you get some extra motivation,” said Arnold.

“This whole season, I feel like we’ve improved,” said Williams.  “We are a completely different team from last year.”

The team hopes to win this game, and then go on to beat the Ducks the following week at home to end the season on a high note.

“4-8 isn’t the best record, we all know that,” said Williams.  “But we have really improved this season and it would be huge to walk away with these last two wins.”

“These kids have fought and battled every week,” said Andersen.  “And I think that we’ve proven that you better prepare to play the Beavers. It won’t just be a day off; we will fight until the end.”

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