EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated following the change in wide receiver Devon Williams' transfer.
Corvallis, Ore. -- Oregon State couldn't have picked a better time to open their Pac-12 schedule: the first week of school. With students returning to campus for the 2019-2020 school year, the Beavers prepare to host Stanford in what could be the first major Pac-12 home win of the Jonathan Smith era.
"I think it's always great to have the students back," says head coach Jonathan Smith. "It's always great to play at home. We got a great challenge that these guys have a ton of respect for and we have another 48 hours to prep for it."
While Stanford has limped into the second week of conference play with a 1-3 record, they are still the same Stanford team they've always been. Oregon and Oregon State players have mentioned in consecutive weeks that not much changes with Cardinal head coach David Shaw and the tactics and scheme he employs on the field. But the difference this season is in their starting talent, and the loss of star offensive tackle Walker Little, forcing some shuffling on Stanford's traditionally dominant offensive line.
"They've got some good o linemen over there, they have for a long time,"Smith says. "They're dealing with what just about everyone is dealing with in the country. Guys down, guys missing, next guy up. We're dealing with the same setup. Our whole gameplan is not based off one guy."
Stanford quarterback KJ Costello has also been playing through injury over the course of this season, sustaining a concussion against Northwestern and then injuring his hand in the first quarter in the Cardinal's 21-6 loss to Oregon. Despite that, Smith thinks that the Beavers defense will likely be seeing the senior instead of backup QB Davis Mills. On Oregon State's injury front, they will likely be without offensive tackle Nathan Eldridge, but will be returning several players that sat out the Cal Poly game in week 3, including running back Jermar Jefferson, wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey and defensive tackle Jordan Whittley.
Morale at Beaver practice has been high following the bye week, especially considering Stanford's struggles in recent weeks. The former no. 1 athlete of the class of 2018 visited Oregon State in week 3 and decided that his new home would be in Corvallis on Wednesday. However, before setting foot into class in Corvallis, Williams went back home to Los Angeles and flipped his commitment to Oregon. Even with the loss, Smith mentioned that an offense flush with skill position players has made Corvallis an attractive destination for high level players who want to make an immediate on-field impact.
"Yeah, I think we got a bunch of selling points," Smith explains. "I really do. Of the offense and if you're an offensive skill player, if you're looking for, I think what we're putting out on tape is a great situation. But also the environment here in Corvallis, playing in this conference, the type of people we have around. The relationships to current roster always helps so all of it, it's all involved in recruiting."
Oregon State kicks off against Stanford at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday at Reser Stadium. Tune in to KEZI College Football Gamenight at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday for postgame coverage.