Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson took advantage of his opportunity against Oregon State last season when J.J. Arcega-Whiteside was sidelined by injury.
Now that Arcega-Whiteside has moved on to the NFL, the Cardinal will likely look to Parkinson again when they face the Beavers on Saturday. Stanford (1-3, 0-2 Pac-12) has lost three straight games, including last weekend's 21-6 loss at home against No. 13 Oregon.
"We're running the ball well. We're blocking well up front. We had so many positive plays that were negated by negative plays. Colby Parkinson was outstanding the first three games. Against Oregon he made two outstanding catches, one that was out of bounds and the other called back because of a holding call," Cardinal coach David Shaw said.
At Stanford last year, Parkinson caught all four of K.J. Costello's touchdown passes and the Cardinal beat Oregon State 48-17 to become bowl eligible. In total, Parkinson caught six passes for 166 yards in the win.
"That game last year really showed what he is capable of," Shaw said. "We'll continue to use his versatility."
Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith acknowledged the Beavers' issues with the 6-foot-7 Parkinson, who has 17 catches for 178 yards this season — but so far no touchdowns as opposing defenses have taken notice.
"He's a matchup problem because, where do you play him at?" Smith said. "They exposed us some last year with that."
It is the Pac-12 opener for the Beavers, who had a bye last week. Oregon State (1-2) is coming off a 45-7 victory over lower-tier Cal Poly two weeks ago.
Stanford has a nine-game winning streak in the series with the Beavers.
Other things of note when the Cardinal visit Corvallis on Saturday:
QUESTIONABLE COSTELLO: The Stanford quarterback injured the thumb on his throwing hand last weekend when he struck an Oregon helmet on a follow through. He is questionable for the Beavers game.
"He fought through it the whole game and made some great throws late in the game," Shaw said. "It's hard to say how much it affected him."
Shaw added that Costello made just two errant throws, so he didn't consider replacing him with junior backup Davis Mills: "He put the ball on the money a couple times with guys in his face. It wasn't like he couldn't do the job."
RETURNING: Smith said this week that he expects to see the return of running back Jermar Jefferson (ankle), defensive tackle Jordan Whittley (knee) and receiver Tyjon Lindsey (leg), who all missed the victory over Cal Poly. Jefferson, last season's Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, ran for 183 yards and a touchdown the last time he played, against Hawaii on Sept. 7.
IS HE OR ISN'T HE?: Oregon State announced Wednesday that receiver Devon Williams had transferred to the school and added him to the roster. The former four-star recruit played for USC last season and appeared in a game for the Trojans this season before entering the transfer portal.
But by Thursday there was confusion about Williams' status with reports that he had left Corvallis. Then Friday afternoon he announced on Twitter that he was joining the Oregon Ducks down the road in Eugene. He thanked coach Smith and Oregon State for giving him "the opportunity to play in their program."
The 6-foot-4 sophomore must sit out this season but he'll have three years of eligibility starting next season.
TURNOVERS: Oregon State has just one turnover in three games, and Smith points to an emphasis on protecting the quarterback and ball security. He doesn't want the Beavers to let up. "We told our guys, that stat has nothing to do with the next game. It can change in a hurry," Smith said.
Quarterback Jake Luton hasn't thrown an interception in 96 attempts.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE: Cardinal outside linebacker Casey Toohill addressed one way the defense can help turn things around: Leadership. Stanford is ranked sixth in the Pac-12 for overall defense, allowing opponents an average of 391.8 yards a game. Cardinal opponents have also scored 16 touchdowns, tying the team for second-most in the league. Opponents have dropped 45-plus points on Stanford twice.
"As much as we talk about it, what we emphasize to younger players is the most important thing is to do it yourself, be committed to the preparation. Attack each practice with a certain intention," Toohill said. "I focus on the next opponent. We have to be disciplined. We have to expect teammates to be in the right place. The best defense we play is just doing our job."
AP freelancer Rick Eymer in Palo Alto contributed to this report.
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