Don't miss any of The Bootleg's Stanford - Oregon State coverage: State of Stanford, Troy Clardy's column, How to Beat Oregon State, and our Look Back at the UCLA win with a look ahead to Corvallis.
Stanford ventures back off into the Pacific Northwest still looking to prove itself in a true Pac-12 road environment. The Cardinal beat Washington State in Seattle last month, but that game came in cavernous and rather empty CenturyLink Field. A game in Utah's boisterous environment did not go well two weeks ago, so Saturday's contest against Oregon State at rowdy Reser Stadium is a chance for the Cardinal to prove their mettle.
"Their defense is opportunistic, their offense is explosive," David Shaw urged caution about the Beavers. "And that's a deadly combination."
Oregon State is leading the nation averaging 427 passing yards per game. Their defense and running game have both recently benefited from the big leads that this aerial production has built. The Beavers' secondary, in fact, has intercepted eight passes over the course of the past three games.
Stanford will go to battle without receiver Devon Cajuste (bone bruise) and kicker Jordan Williamson (leg muscle strain). Both look to be ready for the club's next game versus Oregon on November 7.
"We could probably push it, but it would not be worth it," Shaw said. "[Williamson] is a bit closer, but one more week and a half (including the upcoming bye) will probably be exactly what he needs."
Jordan Pratt, who grew up 20 minutes from Reser Stadium, will fill in for Cajuste at the "big" wide receiver position, which puts a heavy emphasis on run blocking. Shaw also indicated that Kodi Whitfield and Michael Rector would see their roles in the passing game increase.
Stanford's true battle, though, will likely come on the other side of the football, where quarterback Sean Mannion has developed an electric combination with receiver Brandin Cooks. Cardinal receivers Dontonio Jordan and Keanu Nelson have been simulating Cooks for the Stanford scout team, but Shaw knows his defense is in for a unique challenge Saturday.
"Once you're on the field with Cooks, you realize the difference in speed that he brings," he said.
The Cardinal's defensive effort should aided by a gradual return to health on that side of the ball. Nose tackle David Parry, who's been fighting through a lower abdominal issue for the past several weeks, felt much better this week during practice. Defensive end Henry Anderson won't be available to help yet, but he's on track for a possible November 7 return along with safety Zach Hoffpauir. Meanwhile, Ikenna Nwafor (leg) will be sidelined for several more weeks.
Here's the rest of this week's Bootleg Radio podcast material:
David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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