There will be a lot of new things about the Oregon State offense when the Beavers under first-year coach Jonathan Smith open Saturday at Ohio State, but quarterback won’t be one of them.
Jake Luton, the Beavers’ starter for the opener last season in what turned out to be a disastrous 1-11 year, gained the nod from Smith and new offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren after a preseason competition. Don’t blame that 2017 record all on Luton, either, since he started just the first four games before suffering a spinal injury.
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But Luton, 6 feet 7 and 235 pounds, bounced back this preseason in the multiple-look offense Smith brought from Washington, enhanced by Lindgren, who moved over from Colorado. Luton won the job over sophomores Conor Blount and Jack Colletto, and Smith indicated it’s because it became obvious Luton had been there before.
“I think he brings some things because he has some experience from last year,” Smith said.
Not that the job was handed to him.
“He worked really hard in spring practice,” Smith said. “We opened up the competition and it went through the summer. I thought all of the quarterbacks really improved.Join the conversation at Facebook.com/groups/BuckeyeXtraFans and connect with us on Twitter @BuckeyeXtra
"Then we got into fall camp and really narrowed it down to three guys as fall camp went on. He really separated himself in the last week and a half — making great decisions with the ball. He has a live arm and can make a lot of throws and be accurate with them. I even think he grew in his leadership role with the team and guys continued to gain respect for him."
The trick for Smith and Lindgren, especially Saturday, will be exploiting what Luton does best, which is stand and deliver from the pocket, while trying to hold off an aggressive Ohio State defensive line led by Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones.
“He limits you a little bit,” Lindgren said. “He doesn't move as well as those other guys and there will be some things with the quarterback involved in the run game that we just won't call with Jake. It limits you a little bit that way, but also it opens up some things in the pass game and in the play-action game.”