Just wanted to share quick thoughts about Friday’s game before I rush off to watch some Saturday morning cartoons (yeah, yeah, you read that right).
First off, what an amazing game. I’ll confess I didn’t give the Beavers much of a chance going into this game. I was worried they’d come in even flatter than they did against UW. And at first, it looked like it was going to be a long night for the Beavers. But while they could’ve folded after going down 14-0, they didn’t. In fact, they fought back and made it a game for the ages. Despite the loss, I loved what I saw from the team. I’ve never been more proud to be an OSU alum. Here’s five things that jumped out at me.
1. The running game: Wow! Who saw that coming? The Beavers took a page from Stanford’s and Arizona’s playbook and it worked well. Ward and Woods attacked the Ducks from the get-go and were very effective. Ward had a career game and Woods had some great move-the-chains runs and catches. (Does anyone think Woods should be given a look at WR? He does so well in space). There were some miscues, (Ward slipping on 4-and-1) but overall Ward and Woods were the offensive MVPS in my book. They came out fired up and carried the Beavers. More importantly, they proved OSU can run the ball effectively and how dynamic the offense can be when it’s balanced. Now the coaches just need to stick to that for the bowl and next season!
2. Speaking of of a balanced offense . . . After that 4-and-1 interception, Mannion settled down and played well enough to for the OSU offense to keep up with the Ducks’ high-powered offense. Despite facing heavy pressure at times and a strong UO secondary, Mannion held in there. His TD pass to Ward was a thing of beauty. His most impressive throw was one that wasn’t caught, the one he threaded through a needle to Clute. He locked in on Cooks too much, but to be fair, outside of Cooks and the tight ends, he didn’t have many options. The main thing is hopefully, Mannion got his confidence back and builds on it during the bowl game prep, and into next season.
3. The Mannon-Cooks show has been dominant all season and has carried the Beavers, but on Friday, it was clear that not having another option at WR hampered the Beavers’ chances. The Ducks started to double and even triple team Cooks, yet that didn’t seem to result in other WRs being open, besides Woods on that one play (dang!) Mullany has battled injuries, but he also disappeared for the last 75 percent of the season. If Cooks comes back for his senior year, the CW illustrated the importance of OSU needing a second impact receiver to keep defenses honest, and prevent Mannion from locking in on Cooks. One of the Beavers priorities this off season needs to be getting Bolden up to speed, especially if Cooks leaves for the NFL.
4. The Beavers could’ve won this game, so I have to give credit to the coaching staff. They were commited to establishing the run and it worked. (But why did it take until the last game of the season for it to happen?) And I thought until the Ducks final drive, the defensive scheme was solid. Still, there were plenty of head-scratching play calls. Why on short downs, do the Beavers try to go for the home run play? Just get the first down. On questionable catches or fumbles, hurry up and snap the ball. At least have a sense of urgency. Finally, I know a lot of teams go into prevent D at the end of games, but against the Ducks in the CW, it might have been better to stick with what was working. I am glad the coaches didn’t lose the team and had them competitive, but I think there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
5. Officating didn’t cost the Beavers the game, and I never use that excuse. But I wanted to highlight the fact that UO seemed to get away with a lot of holding and PI. There’s a reason it’s called homefield advantage I guess. I am not saying calls here and there would’ve changed the outcome of the game, but Friday’s contest illustrated how woeful Pac-12 officating is. Larry Scott has dropped the ball when it comes to improving this, and it continues to hurt the conference’s prestige.
What do you think of my observations? Agree or disagree? What stood out to you?