There is a saying that a win is a win. This is true, and through history, we have perfect examples of this. A Fiesta Bowl romp over Notre Dame is what flutters through our minds as we ponder the magical 2000 season. Near losses to Eastern Washington and New Mexico don’t. That year, it wasn’t until the San Diego State game that the Beavers were able to put together a complete game. A trend I hope continues this year.
Or take the 2008 Season where a huge USC victory overshadows some other games, but we all remember each loss to Penn State, Utah, the crap sacks and ultimately, the game that kept OSU from the Rose Bowl, the Stanford game. We never wax poetically about a tight ASU game or Arizona game, or a masterful win over UCLA in Los Angeles. We just see those as W in the schedule of the past.
So should this season turn out to be a special one, we will most likely not look back at these first two games and nit pick them to death.
Unfortunately, they are all we have so the nitpicking has begun, and while some of it is overblown in my mind, some of it is legitimate. The gripes people have about this particular game circle around a 15 minute span. While many think it started in the 3rd Quarter, I would disagree with this. OSU’s defense was still dominating, and outside of a few penalties the Hawaii offense really did nothing to distinguish themselves. In terms of the offense, OSU still did quite a bit well. The first drive of the third quarter was a TD drive that looked effortless, but the ensuing ones had issues. Lets start with the first one.
1st and 10 at ORST 22 OREGON ST Penalty, Offensive holding (Grant Bays) to the OrgSt 12:
This was actually not a hold. Bays had his hands in and was perpendicular to the defender. While he was holding jersey, he had not extended his arms and when their player turned he let go. I have included an non-conclusive photo that only shows that he never extends his arms past his shoulders. The other rough part of this is that the ref who actually threw the flag could not possibly have seen it because Bays back was to him (he was the ref that lines up facing the line of scrimmage behind the defense. He just saw a guy turn and fall.
It was a good block and by the time the guy realized Storm was there, he was too late to make the tackle anyway. This cost OSU a 22 yard run and a lot of momentum. The offense was still in synch at this time, in my opinion, but the penalty was hard to overcome.
3rd and 6 at ORST 29 Sean Mannion pass incomplete to Richard Mullaney
For many, this deep pass attempt was a poor play call when they needed a first down. I tend to agree because my personal philosophy is to get the first down. That being said, I understand the reasoning. First, 6 yards is not an easy nab. 3rd and 1 you can do anything, but 6 yards was above their rushing average for the game and with the way their defense was set up that play, was going to take perfect execution by the Beavers.
So before the play, I am assuming that Sean saw Richard was going to be one on one and knew that it was the best route at the time. In addition they had given up a lot bad plays at that time, and it was a chance that if they hit it, to turn momentum back to their side.
So I understand why they did it, but to be honest, I just think they could have ran a bubble screen or fly sweep or worked to hit the tight end in the seam on that one. Regardless, I don’t begrudge the pass.
And I think ultimately that is my feeling on this game. The mistakes made were not chronic, though their timing makes them feel so. They were a combination of a lot of things, but Hawaii is not a terrible team and they are probably going to win a few more games this year than they did last year. In all of Hawaii’s drives either they got the ball deep in OSU territory because of special teams, or they were drives that had failed but OSU got penalized and the drives continued.
But lets not forget two things. First, these teams Oregon State has played would both finish last in the Pac-12 if they were playing in it. While I think both have some talent, there is just not enough for them to compete with a veteran team like the Beavers have. So these games should not even be close. Secondly, mistakes by the Beavers have forced them to make the first two games competitive, rather than blow outs. There was improvement from game one to game two, but there were still too many mistakes.
So as we head into a bye week, OSU has a great opportunity to do what they do year after year, and that is improve. We have only seen glimpses of what this team can do when they put it together and it is impressive. Unfortunately, from the offensive line to the running backs to the receivers to special teams to the secondary there are a lot of things that need to happen. Will they? History tells us that with Mike Riley teams the best is yet to be seen, so my guess is we will see better before the season is over. All that matters to me now is that even with big mistakes and struggles with focus, OSU is 2-0. If they can keep winning, even with these kinds of mistakes, there is a good chance that when or if the get it nailed down, they are going to be a very special team.
I would still rather be us than any team in Washington.