Conor Blount may not have won the starting quarterback job in fall camp, but his performance on Saturday showed just how capable he is of leading the Beavers.
Blount played just the first half but finished completing 15 of 22 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown while propelling the Beavers to a 41-7 lead at the break.
Oregon State went on to defeat Southern Utah 48-25.
Blount connected with four different receivers, made good decisions, showed his mobility and did not turn the ball over.
“I thought he was really efficient and made some good decisions and recognition of coverage,” coach Jonathan Smith said. “I thought he trusted his protection pretty well because there were a couple times he needed to hold on to the ball to get through a read on a longer developing play and he did it.”
Blount, who replaced Jake Luton after he suffered a concussion on the opening drive at Ohio State last week, completed 12 of 19 passes for 168 yards and two scores against the Buckeyes.
Luton, who did practice some this week, played the second half and was 4-for-9 passing for 63 yards.
Blount said he wasn’t told during the week that he would start but prepared, just as he did last week, to be the starter.
“Some of the logic going into this game was that Jake was just in a limited fashion in the week and Conor did some good things against Ohio State so we felt comfortable with Conor,” Smith said.
“It’s going to be a little bit weekly. I’m anxious to watch this tape and truly evaluate what both those guys did but I think we’ve got two quarterbacks that can move the ball well and that’s where it’s at."
Blount is ready to do whatever is asked of him.
“I feel confident in what I can bring to this team but at the end of the day that’s up to the coaches and I’ll leave that to them,” he said. “They know best.”
Day of firsts
True freshman running back Jermar Jefferson scored the first touchdown of his Oregon State career when he went in from six yards out in the first quarter to put the Beavers up 10-0.
He also became the first true freshman to run for more than 100 yards in a game since Seth Collins did it in 2015. Jefferson finished with 238 yards on 22 carries and a school record-tying four rushing touchdowns.
His one major miscue was a fourth-quarter fumble.
It was also Smith’s first win as the Beavers’ head coach.
“I got a game ball down in the locker room, yeah a good celebration that way,” Jefferson said. “We’re hoping, obviously, to have a few more.”
True freshman tight end Isaiah Smalls had his first catch as a Beaver, a 31-yarder in the first quarter.
Jonathan Willis recorded the Beavers first sack of the season, forcing Southern Utah quarterback Chris Helbig out of bounds for a four-yard loss early in the third quarter.
The Thunderbirds are still looking for their first win against a Pac-12 team.
The recent games haven’t been all that close. In 2017, they lost 77-21 at Oregon.
They dropped a 24-0 decision at Utah in 2016 and 48-10 at Washington State in 2013.
Southern Utah was in the game at Cal in 2012 but the Golden Bears scored 30 fourth-quarter points for a 50-31 win.