Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith looked for some wood to knock on when a reporter told him that his team had yet to commit a turnover this season.
Fortunately, a lectern was right in front of him.
“It’s a good thing, obviously, not turning the ball over, especially early in the season,” Smith said. “We don’t do a ton of live reps — ball carrying, tackling — in August, so the first couple games you’re still feeling that out. So far, so good.
“We’re not going into games where the ultimate goal is, ‘Don’t turn it over.’ We’ve got a mindset where we want to be aggressive. But after two, we’ll take it.”
No. 16 Oregon State (2-0) will try to maintain its early-season success when it hosts San Diego State (2-1) on Saturday afternoon in a nonconference matchup in Corvallis, Ore.
The Beavers are coming off back-to-back wins against San Jose State and UC Davis, and neither outcome was close. They rolled to a 42-17 win in their opener and followed that with a 55-7 result in their encore performance.
Now comes another test from the Aztecs, who won their first two games over Ohio and Idaho State before losing 35-10 against UCLA last week.
San Diego State head coach Brady Hoke said his team would take lessons from the loss to UCLA as it prepared for a second straight game against a Pac-12 opponent.
“We’ve got to learn from this one because next week is just as difficult,” Hoke said. “When I say that, I’m talking about (Oregon State) as a good team. They’re a (heck) of a football team. We’ve got to get better this week. We’ve got to make sure that we’re all on the same page.”
Oregon State is led by quarterback DJ Uiagalelei, a Clemson transfer who has completed 73.7 percent of his passes this season for 346 yards and five touchdowns. He also has scored three touchdowns on the ground.
Six Beavers players have caught a touchdown pass.
“You want to have some depth,” Smith said. “I think DJ as quarterback has some confidence in multiple guys out there, so that’s a good thing. Moving forward, as the season goes, you’re going to need more than one or two guys at a position.”
As Oregon State has piled up impressive statistics on offense, perhaps more impressive has been their defensive play thus far. The Beavers have allowed only 24 points, and defensive back Jaden Robinson has made life difficult for opposing quarterbacks by making seven tackles and breaking up three passes in two games.
San Diego State quarterback Jalen Mayden will try to be the first signal-caller this season to outwit the Beavers’ secondary. Mayden has completed 59.5 percent of his passes for 445 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions, and he has rushed for a team-high 184 yards with two touchdowns.
Wideout Mekhi Shaw leads Aztec receivers with 104 receiving yards to go along with a touchdown. Tight end Mark Redman has two touchdowns among his team-high 12 receptions for 102 yards.
This will be the programs’ first meeting since 2014, when Oregon State won 28-14 at home. The Beavers lead the all-time series 3-2.
–Field Level Media