Struggling Beavers lose Collins to illness
CORVALLIS — Heading into the final two games of the season, Oregon State was dealt another blow. Receiver Seth Collins, one of the most dynamic players on the team, was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.
Collins was upgraded from fair to good condition at a hospital late this week, but it appears his season is over. Coach Gary Andersen seemed stunned when he spoke about the development.
Andersen couldn't discuss any specifics about the illness because of privacy rules. And he was unsure of the impact on the team heading into Saturday night's game against Arizona.
"They seem fine, but are their minds on Seth? Absolutely. He's a teammate," Andersen said. "It's not just a normal, 'Hey, I hurt my knee in practice.'"
Collins has 36 catches for 418 yards this season. His illness was the latest blow for the injury-plagued Beavers (2-8, 1-6 Pac-12), who have lost four straight. Another key loss was quarterback Darell Garretson, knocked out for the season by a broken ankle suffered against Utah. His backup, Conor Blount, was injured in the same game.
Just this week, Andersen announced that linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu won't play again this season because of an ankle injury. Safety Jalen Moore, who started the past four games, is also done for the season.
On the bright side, the Beavers could see the return of running back Ryan Nall, who has rushed for 672 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Arizona (2-8, 0-7) is similarly having a tough season marked by injuries. The Wildcats have lost seven straight going into the Oregon State game and they're still searching for a first conference win. They are coming off a 49-24 loss at home to No. 12 Colorado.
"It's been maybe the most frustrating year I've ever had. I've had other bad years, not too many, but this probably has been the most frustrating in a lot of ways," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said. "That doesn't mean you're disappointed in everything, it just means you're frustrated with a lot."
Things to watch for when Oregon State hosts Arizona:
QUARTERBACK SHUFFLE: The Wildcats have played Brandon Dawkins, Anu Solomon and Khalil Tate at quarterback this season, rotating largely because of injuries. Most expect Dawkins and Solomon to see time on Saturday at Reser Stadium. Dawkins has thrown for 1,162 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. He's also rushed for 673 yards and eight TDs. Solomon has thrown for 383 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
THE LAST TIME: The Wildcats haven't been to Corvallis since 2011. The Beavers that year had lost four straight to start the season, including a stunning loss to lower-tier Sacramento State in the opener, but beat Arizona 37-27. The Wildcats fired coach Mike Stoops two days later and defensive coordinator Tim Kish filled in as interim coach for the rest of the season.
Last season, the Wildcats routed the Beavers 44-7 in Tucson.
PENALTIES: In their 38-24 loss at UCLA last weekend, the Beavers had 12 penalties for 119 yards. It was their third straight game with more than 100 yards in penalties. Overall, the Beavers have the fourth-most penalty yards in the league, and they're averaging 74.8 yards a game.
Andersen was clearly upset about it following the loss to the Bruins.
"Let's talk about the penalties right out of the gate. Something has got to get fixed. I refuse to be a part of an undisciplined football team on the field or off the field. I refuse and it will get fixed. Somehow, someway, there is obviously some disconnect," Andersen said.
A FEW NUMBERS: Arizona ranks at the bottom of the Pac-12 for scoring offense with an average of 22.4 points per game, while the Beavers rank 10th with 23.8. The Wildcats' ground game is their strength, and they are ranked second in the league for rushing offense with an average of 214.7 yards a game. The Beavers' rush defense is ranked No. 10, allowing an average of 228.3 yards a game.
Dawkins leads Arizona with an average of 84.1 rushing yards a game, fourth in the league.
MOOD LEVEL: "Right now, we are just taking it day by day. The mood is to beat Oregon State," Wildcats senior linebacker Michael Barton said. "That should be our focus. We are already over what's happened; we can only control what's ahead of us. Right now, our number one focus is Oregon State. I don't think anybody is down."