With Jake Luton’s status uncertain for Oregon State’s home football opener with Southern Utah on Saturday, it’s business as usual for Conor Blount.
Luton, who was named the starting quarterback for last week’s season-opener at Ohio State, lasted just one series before suffering a concussion.
Blount came in and completed 12 of 19 passes for 169 yards, with two touchdowns to Trevon Bradford, in the first half. He did not play in the second half of the 77-31 loss.
Coach Jonathan Smith said Monday if Luton is unable to go, Blount will get the start against the Thunderbirds.
The redshirt sophomore won’t be changing his approach this week.
“Last week I really, truly did go into that week thinking it could be play one, it could be play 50,” Blount said. “It’s going to be the same thing, it’s going to be the same thing for the next 11 games.”
Blount, who found out last Monday he would not be the starter, admitted receiving that news hurt a little. But he was able to remain focused during the week of practice.
“I put the work in and I know opportunities are going to come so when they come you’ve just got to make the most of them and that’s what I did,” he said.
Offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren said Blount’s preparation was evident.
“I really liked his demeanor and how he carried himself out there on game day,” he said. “I would feel very comfortable if he was out there on Saturday.”
Bradford said the team knew Blount would rise to the occasion.
“Conor’s always been a really confident player,” he said. “He’s really confident in his abilities. We know what he can do when he gets in the game. There’s really no dropoff between him and Jake, that’s why the competition was so long. We believe in Conor and what he brings to the table.”
Game slows down
Blount’s first collegiate action came his freshman year in relief against Boise State. He said it was a much different feel on Saturday even though Ohio State was a better team.
“Obviously that’s a little bit better defense but I felt like it slowed down a little bit,” he said. “My head wasn’t blowing up, I wasn’t just trying to know the play, I knew the play, I was reading the coverage it wasn’t just go out there and kind of freelance a little bit. So definitely more comfortable and it felt right.”
Game plan change?
Lindgren said not a lot changed when Blount entered the game for Luton so early last week.
“We got into a little of the QB read game with some of our run stuff that we probably wouldn’t have run with Jake,” he said. “But not really. I felt like we had access to everything that Jake had. Conor had done a nice job preparing all week and I thought he did a nice job for the most part.”
Lindgren was asked to evaluate the play of the offensive line after Saturday’s performance. Like every position group, he said, there was a mixture of good and bad.
“For the first game I thought there were some positive things and just like every position group I thought there were a lot of areas where I was like man we’ve got to clean up our technique, be more physical,” Lindgren said. “There’s so much room for improvement. I’m not singling that group out but it was across the board at every position.”
However there was one area that he specifically mentioned — errant snaps. On several occasions, Blount was forced to chase them down and a couple led to sacks.
“We had some bad snaps there so clean up the snaps and just avoiding negative plays,” Lindgren said. “… We had the ball across the 50-yard line and we went backwards a couple times and took ourselves out of field goal range.”
New QB in town
Lindgren said he's excited to have Nebraska transfer Tristan Gebbia, a quarterback, in the program. OSU made the announcement on Monday. Gebbia will sit out the 2018 season and be a redshirt sophomore in 2019.
“He showed up pretty quick there and he’s been working with us a little bit,” Lindgren said. “I’ve been thrilled. Great kid and I’ve heard a lot of good positive things from numerous people about him. Just excited to get to work with him in the future.”