1. For me right now, it is difficult to be a Beaver fan. Mostly because of other fans. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand there are many issues that people struggle with, and I understand the fact that sometimes, it would be nice to just come out and roll a bad team like OSU did against Idaho or Utah back in the late 2000’s. I understand all of this, but what bothers me the most is that even doing that would make no difference because the reality is Beaver fans are bored of Mike Riley. Not all of course, but many, and I would almost say a majority of people that like to share their opinions online in the various forums and blogs are.
There is no cure for this, just like a job where morale has sunk and you and your co-workers just complain all the time about how lame the job is. It is very hard to get that morale back. Almost impossible. I have seen it at every job I have had except for two (so maybe it is me?). The same goes for Mike Riley. People don’t wear the ‘Dean of Pac-12’ coaches as a badge of honor, but rather something that shines a light on a lack of innovation and a program that is holding on to old ideas.
I for one, disagree with this, but I see why people are complacent to apathetic and I understand it. I just think it is silly, and you need to look no further than the fans of other teams and other coaches to understand why. While we are bored with him, many fans, coaches and media are scratching their heads as to why we have been able to keep him around. While we complain about slow starts, other coaches are hard pressed to match the season long growth that Mike and his coaches produce. A lot of programs would also like the stability and lack of concern over institutional issues.
I think that Mike has a lot left to do at OSU and has a chance to something special this year if they can fix a few mental issues on the team. They have weathered the usual slow start (and hopefully can get the win this weekend) have shown a much improved defense and are looking at a decent early schedule with SDSU and USC being the toughest schools until Stanford on their schedule. We will see what happens, but it is impossible to overcome boredom or, in many cases, a loss of morale for the program. Only winning can do that, and that is up to Mike and his staff and the Beaver players. This year is a good year to do it and I hope that they can, because a lack luster year may be too much for Beaver Nation to handle. If that is the case, I fear we will find out how hard it is to replace a Mike Riley.
2. USC definitely felt the post Stanford let down that the Beavers did last year against the Trojans. Stanford is so physical, that it is hard to recover from their assault. Then to have to travel across country to the East Coast is not going to help. That being said, they should have won and 400+ rushing yards is not acceptable, even against an NFL lineman factory like Boston College.
What is weird to me is how many people are looking at that game as a blueprint on how to stop the Trojans. Maybe it is, but BC is a running school, built around exceptional offensive line play and a Stanford like offense. They are built different than OSU and many other teams, so the blueprint of what they accomplished is not a cookie cutter solution that can be used by every team. I fully EXPECT OSU to pass 40 times in their game against the Trojans, and I think that is fine, as long as they run 25+ times as well (not including sacks). For OSU a solid running game forces teams to stack up the box and allows them to pass and improve on play action. It also allows them to run screens, bubble passes and the like because the runners have a lot of field if they can get past the front line. Fly sweeps are great too.
So for OSU, they don’t need to grind it out because they are not built that way. I don’t try and out pull a Dodge truck with a Ford Edge, but I would be more than willing to race a Dodge truck through a busy freeway with the Edge. This metaphore may kind of suck, but the point is you have to do what you do best. You should adjust to the defense and what they give you, but just like teams make the score worse against the ducks by freaking out and passing, regardless of their competency doing so, teams also can get in trouble abandoning what they have been practicing all year to try and replicate success another team with different schemes and personnel.
3. A great reader of the blog named John Blow Cheese had some really good thoughts in his comments on my latest The Official Candy Report. I don’t have the time to address them all, but it is a good read so I recommend it to anyone that has the time. but there was one section of his comments that I wanted to address a bit.
I think he makes a good point about Sean Mannion throwing into double coverage too much or not being Ben Rothlisberger, but I don’t know if that is the best comparison. I think of Sean as more of a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. Now I am not saying he is either of those guys or that he will do what they did in the NFL, but Sean has something to his game that is a bit more than just the usual statue passing the ball around. You watch his film last year and this year and you can see noticeable difference in the pocket, in how me moves around it and in the way he uses his feet. Sean is playing at a very high level and will continue to get better as his components improve. He misses a few throws here and there like all QB’s, but his ability to thread the needle or hit players quickly is his edge. He is not going to kill you with his feet, so he has to get yards with his arm when he can.
The second TD against Hawaii was an amazing throw, as have a lot of his passes on screens or in traffic. While he is not shy about making passes that are going to be contested, he also is doing a good job of hitting open targets. Sean is also able to and willing to take a hit or get sacked, which is important for a player that is going to be asked to pass 40 times a game. Last year, he had rough games and still came out throwing accurately and standing in the pocket without getting happy feet. He did this against Stanford en route to a season high passes completed against the Cardinal and he did it last weekend against Hawaii. This weekend he is playing a tough, blitz happy defense in SDSU, and he is going to get hit. he is going to take some licks just as any team from the ducks to the Trojans would take their licks against the Aztecs. They are a good team that will win 9-10 games this year.
But having a guy like Sean, who can hit anyone on the field at any time, is a huge weapon and one that needs to be used. We can be upset at the number of passes we throw, and the running game is SUPER important to sustained success, but I have faith in Sean when he is throwing and I think he is not only a prolific passer, but probably our best I have seen. We will miss Sean after he leaves this year, and we will remember him far more fondly than many think of him now once the emotion is gone. He may win huge this year, he may not, but Sean Mannion will go down as one of, if not the, best QB’s to play for the Beavers in their history. So I enjoy the time, enjoy watching him and enjoy the fact that every game he plays is a march to a history that may not last forever (with silly WSU in the conference) but is impressive as it has happened in the most difficult time in Pac-whatever history because the coaching an physical talent in the Pac-12 is unrivaled by past seasons.