Corvallis, Ore. -- College football scout teams are unheralded, undiscussed, and yet indispensable to a team's preparation for their opponent the next week. Every week, the scout teams, comprised mainly of second and third string players on the depth chart, have to learn new offensive and defensive schemes and give the starters as close a look as they can get to the real thing. One week, the scout team would have to learn an option run offense and the next week, they could have to mimic the pass-heavy air-raid style. In Corvallis, Oregon State has spent the week preparing for the architect of that air-raid, Washington State head coach Mike Leach.
"Scout offense is created by the defensive part" , explains Beaver head coach Jonathan Smith. "So the defensive staff watches all that tape and they put it together. It's not easy to be the scout team quarterback when you have to change offenses weekly."
The air-raid, is also unique in that the Quarterback makes a good deal of the decisions at the line of scrimmage. In Pullman, whether it be Connor Halliday, Gardner Minshew or current starter Anthony Gordon, the QB can change the play from pass to run, can alter the route a receiver runs, or change the play completely. Which makes a solid scout team effort during the week absolutely essential to understanding an offense that is sixth in the nation in yards per game.
"This week, trying to recreate what they do is tough" , Smith says. "Getting at some of the stuff at the line of scrimmage, some of the line adjustments that take place, but I think we prepared well. Throwing it way more like that, running routes, (the scout team) had a blast."
Gordon, in particular, has been every bit as prolific as his predecessor, Gardner Minshew. The senior has thrown for over 4,000 yards and 39 touchdowns with two games left in the season. That number puts Gordon firmly at the top of the nation's passing leaders, and nearly 700 yards ahead of the next player on the list, LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Joe Burrow. Despite the Cougars explosiveness, there have been a multitude of questions on the defensive side of the ball, as Wazzu has had to contend with multiple defensive backs either transferring out of the program, leaving the team or being dismissed for various team rules violations. The conditions are ripe for a shootout in Pullman, but Oregon State head coach Jonathan Smith isn't so sure.
"We've gone into a couple others where we assumed something, whether it be high scoring or low scoring, but it didn't happen that way", he mentions. "We'll get into the rhythm of the game and see what it looks like on both sides."
Oregon State kicks off against Washington State at 6:00 p.m. with bowl eligibility on the line. The game will be broadcast on the Pac-12 Network.