Once again, the Beavers were unable to get that final monkey off their back — losing for the 23rd consecutive time to USC at the Coliseum. The defense kept the Beavers close, but eventually wore down due to a woefully ineffective offense. OSU failed to score an offense touchdown for the first time since the 2011 season. Here’s five quick takeaways from the game to get you ready for Peter’s Candy Report:
What happened to run game?: Storm Woods and Terron Ward ran the ball very well against the Trojans, especially during OSU’s first several drives. They combined for 90 yards on 16 carries on the night — averaging an excellent 5.6 yards per carry. Clearly, the Trojans couldn’t stop the run game, so continue pounding away? Yet, the Beavers all but abandoned the running game in the second half, despite Sean Mannion struggling to get the Beavers passing game going.
Ignoring a strength: Two catches for six yards. That was Saturday’s combined stat line for tight ends Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith — and it’s unacceptable. Mike Riley and Co. needed to find a way to get those two more involved, especially with the passing game missing Victor Bolden. What happened to the short, underneath passes to the tight end that worked so well for Joe Halahuni several years ago? The OSU tight ends were supposed to be a strength this season, and need to be utilized accordingly.
Don’t Blame The D: Sure, USC’s Hail Mary touchdown was embarrassing, but you know what? It was kind of a combination fluke/good luck play. Outside of that, the Beavers defense played well. It recorded three sacks, held USC star receiver Nelson Agholor to three catches and 27 yards, and pressured QB Cody Kessler often. It wasn’t until fatigue set in for the Beavers, that the Trojans started running away with the game. The injuries to multiple defensive tackles didn’t help either.
What is the offensive game plan?: Time and time again, Riley has said the Beavers need to run the ball more, and that balance is key for success. So how come he doesn’t walk the talk? The Beavers were running the ball down USC’s throat, so why stop? But instead, the Beavers tried to win the game through the air, despite it being painfully obvious that the Trojan D wasn’t having it. That put too much pressure on Mannion to make plays when there weren’t really any to be made. The OSU coaches failed to make adjustments, and one has to wonder if this will continue to happen this season.
Murphy to the house: Ryan Murphy’s 97-yard kickoff return for touchdown was AWESOME. It’s the kind of play the Beavers needed following USC’s interception for touchdown. Murphy showed excellent speed and athleticism, shaking off a tackle and staying up right to score. After all he’s been through at OSU (injuries, loss of his best friend), Murphy has stuck with it and lived up to his recruitment hype. The Beavers will need big plays like that this season to overcome some of it’s shortcomings.
The BIG Question:
This loss left me asking: “Does Riley need to re-evaluate his offensive philosophy?” Because it seems recently, there’s not a whole lot of balance, creativity, or sticking with what works.