Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith confirmed Monday that Ben Gulbranson will be the starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
Gulbranson, a redshirt freshman, is 5-1 as a starter in place of the injured Chance Nolan and on Saturday led the Beavers to a 31-7 win at Arizona State. The Beavers will finish the regular season against No. 10 Oregon at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and will then play in a bowl game.
“Yeah, I think so,” Smith said when asked if Gulbranson was going to start the remaining games. “Where it’s gone, Chance’s inability to totally get healthy and back. Ben has played solid and so, yeah, I would be surprised if he didn’t start the next two games.”
Smith gave Gulbranson credit for playing hard against Arizona State, in particular he was very aggressive in finishing runs.
“I thought he played with effort, extending the play. A couple of times he didn’t like what he saw, so he took off, gained a couple first downs,” Smith said. “Sometimes it’s hard for you to recognize quarterbacks playing with great effort. But he was, wasn’t going down lightly, extended it, moved the pocket, threw it a couple of times. So really was pleased with that.”
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Smith said the No. 22 Beavers (8-3, 5-3 Pac-12 Conference) did suffer one season-ending injury on Saturday. Redshirt freshman tight end Malik Kelley was injured late in the game and will be out the rest of the year.
Looking at other injured players, Smith said the team is hopeful that Deshaun Fenwick, Jam Griffin, Anthony Gould, Alex Austin, Jaydon Grant and Jack Colletto will be able to practice this week and be available against Oregon.
Smith said offensive lineman Tyler Morano missed the game due to illness and should be back on Saturday, and the team is optimistic that offensive lineman Heneli Bloomfield will also be available.
Smith gave credit to right tackle Taliese Fuaga for playing well against Arizona State even though he was limited in practice the week before.
Rivalry week is nothing new for Smith, who was 2-2 against Oregon as a player and 1-3 against the Ducks as a head coach. The Beavers won the last meeting in Corvallis, 41-38 in 2020.
This will be the first rivalry game for Oregon coach Dan Lanning. Smith said there are a lot of similarities between this year’s teams and the Oregon teams of the past.
“These guys are sound schematically. They’ve got good athletes,” Smith said. “They’re getting great quarterback play, that’s been similar in years. I think each coach kind of puts their personality into it. Their fourth-down aggression might be a little bit different this year than in the past. The guy’s willing to take chances. He beats UCLA, I think, on the decision to onside on the kickoff. He’s chasing down wins.”
Notes: Oregon State running back Damien Martinez was named the Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week. He ran for 138 yards and two TDs against Arizona State and has gained at least 100 yards rushing in five straight games. … Saturday’s game will be the 126th meeting between Oregon State and Oregon. The Ducks lead the all-time series 67-48-10.