Monthly Archives: October 2014

Cal Game Preview

What: California (4-4 overall, 2-4) at Oregon State (4-3, 1-3)

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Reser Stadium

On the Air: Pac-12 Network/Beaver Sports Network

Series: 34-32, California. OSU has won six of the last seven meetings between the two teams, including three in a row in Corvallis.

Last season: The Beavers cruised to a 28-3 halftime lead and never looked back in a 49-17 victory. Sean Mannion threw for 481 yards and four touchdowns, all to different receivers, including Brandin Cooks who chipped in 232 yards (second highest total in OSU history) on 13 catches.

Cal’s last game: Cal is coming off a 59-41 loss to Oregon last Thursday. Sophomore quarterback Jared Goff completed 32 passes for 360 yards and two TDs. But the story of the game was that the Golden Bears’ running game was surprisingly effective — 193 yards, four TDs, and a 5.1 yards-per-carry average.

Notes: Beavers’ backup tight end Jacob Wark played three seasons for Cal. He transfered to OSU to complete his master’s degree. OSU head coach Mike Riley’s coaching career started in Berkeley. He served as graduate assistant for Cal during the 1975 season. He coached the defensive scout team. Oregon State ended its streak of 28 losing seasons against Cal in 1999. In 2002 against Cal, Steven Jackson rushed for OSU Reser Stadium record 229 yards.

5 Keys to Victory

1. Establish the run early. Cal’s defense is the worst in the Pac-12, allowing 41 points and 533 yards per game so far. So the Beavers need to, and should be able to, run the ball effectively. Using the run to set up the pass is key because if the Beavers do that, they should be able to have a field day through the air. The Golden Bears allow a conference-worst 383 passing yards per game.

2. Jump to an early (and big) lead. There has been a lot of pressure on Sean Mannion during the past few games. He has also taken a physical beating. The Beavers need to continue their recent trend of fast starts against Cal, so that Mannion can play loose and not worry about having to do too much. If he has a little more time to throw, he should put up good numbers and break the Pac-12 record for career passing yards.

3. Pressure Goff. Jared Goff is one of the top passers in the nation, ranking in the top 10 in seven passing categories. He’s second in both passing yards (2,842) and TD passes (26). He’s also averaging 355 passing yards per game (4th nationally). Needless to say, the Beavers need to harass Goff and throw him off rhythm. A few sacks wouldn’t hurt either 🙂

4. Use some trickery. Even though the Beavers should have an easier time moving the ball against Cal than they’ve had in weeks, it wouldn’t hurt to open the playbook a little bit. Run some (effective) fly sweeps, throw a flea-flicker, etc. The Beavers need to figure out ways to gain yards easier. Doesn’t it seem like other teams routinely have big plays, while the Beavers have to fight and claw their way for 10 yards?

5. Stellar Secondary. Goff can get rid of the ball quickly and likes to spread it out among different receivers. So the Beaver defensive backs need to be physical and prevent the Cal WRs from getting breaking away. Big plays are the quickest way to fall behind, as the Beavers found out last week against Stanford. It also will be important for the DBs to fight through screens and snuff out the ball carrier.

Game Prediction: 38-31, OSU. The Beavers’ offense will have an easier time against Cal, and put up some much needed points, just enough to hold off the Golden Bears’ high-flying offense. The OSU defense will help slow down Cal by forcing a few turnovers, and Trevor Romaine will hit a key field goal.

What are your predictions/thoughts  about Saturday’s game?

The Official Candy Report: Stanford

Guess what I don’t want to write today? This report.

Sure. the blog is named after it, but honestly, I have nothing to say. There is a lot of anger and disappointment that is too common these days in Beaver Nation. While the reality is that OSU needs a lot of changes to be an elite team, there is not a lot they can do now for that. As this year goes on, it still has the potential to be a decent year. 7 – 8 wins with a bowl game. The problem is, on a team with arguably the best quarterback in the history of the school, a slew of experienced defenders and the best tight end duo in OSU history, as well as experience on the line and in the backfield, the bar should be higher.

For this to happen, the coaches at OSU need to do something different. I am not a huge proponent of going straight spread option and abandoning what many defensive coordinators think is the best vertical passing game in the conference. What I suggest is this:

Create offensive options that work in less than optimum conditions.

We have the fly sweep, but really, we rarely use it to improve other plays. We have had some success running counters off fly sweep motion, but how about a bootleg? How about the option? What about going to Wildcat with it and put one of your less experienced receivers out there like Hawkins at QB? Or Dockery? How about doing what Cal does and have one of your faster quarterbacks like McMaryion or Mitchell work on a small package with spread option plays. Or a roll out package or whatever you can do to move the ball when things are not going right. Just because something looks open in the booth, doesn’t mean you can block for it.

OSU has payed the three most difficult defenses in the conference by far. They now have the five best offenses left. The Beavers should move the ball better in the coming weeks, assuming they have any healthy linemen left. Now it is up to their defense, who should be getting Grimble back soon. Hopefully that is enough to get a few more wins out. Unfortunately, a few more wins is not the ceiling of the program, the university or this team. This team has more in it and could be looking at two losses or less right now. I do not believe that the coaches are getting the most out of what they have, and that is the difficult part of this whole ordeal. This is not the best this team could be and that is on the coaches.

So if it means at the end of the year they shuffle coaches, bring in consultants or clean house a bit, it has to start with Riley and he has to be willing to do what it takes, even if that is stepping back and letting other people take over huge portions of the team. Because OSU will most likely never be able to pull in top 10 recruiting classes, so they better be able to get the most out of what they have. I felt OSU did that very well six or seven years ago. I have lost that feeling today.

This can still mathematically be a 9 win team, but I am not sure anyone feels like it will be. Every time I doubt the coaches they prove me wrong, so lets see if they can do it. It starts with Cal but carries on to the rest of the year.

Regardless, I will root for the players and the coaches and I will continue to be a Beaver fan, but the warts in the program are too obvious for even a Beaver-aide drinker like me to ignore. I hope when the season is over, someone at OSU makes the call to bring about new ideas and new changes to this program, and I hope it is Mike Riley himself.

GO BEAVERS!

Sometimes you just have to flush one.

Saturday I got home in time to watch the game, only to find out that our power was out. No game, no DVR of game, no dice. Fortunately I had my smart phone with me and was able to get the game via an ESPN app. Unfortunately, I had about 18% charge on my phone, and again, no way to charge it.

Now many a fan would hit the road and find a bar or another place to watch the game. They would not have my daughters, nor the fortune of finally getting one of them asleep, so I was landlocked.

Normally, this would make me feel miserable, but within the 18% charge of my phone, i was able to watch about a quarter and a half, and that was about enough.

While the sound of broken bandwagon ankles is almost as deafening as the “I Told You So’s” who have ever disliked Riley, Mannion, Banker, Read, this version of this team or whatever myriad of things to be tired of with this team, I have one thought.

Flush it. Not the program, not the coaches, not the players, but the game. Sometimes, you have a game so bad that there is no reason to spend a lot of time on it because it only represents a bad game. Now, this year we have had two flushers. USC and Stanford. Colorado and Utah were good games with great effort spoiled by a few mistakes. This game was one of those where it looked like OSU prepared for the wrong team. Stanford is not as good on offense as we mad them look and honestly not as good on defense as we made them look. There were a lot of missed opportunities and a lot to be upset about.

But I am not ready to give up on a great QB or a good defense. Two flushers is two too many, but the season is not ending because we had a crapper of a game. There are five more and OSU better find some answers or some answers will be found for them. It is that simple, so I am going to suit up in my stupid shirts and jerseys all week, take the truck load of grief the duck faithful I work with will heap on me and hope for the best.

But after I write the Candy Report this week, I will give this last game zero thought because it is not worth it. I recommend the players do the same. Just like a DB turns their back on getting burned and lines up to try and get the stop again, the Beavers as a team need to turn the page on this and move on.

The coaches on the other hand, need to figure it out because they are going to see a whole lot of that the rest of the season. Outside of WSU, every team they play from here on out will run a hurry up spread offense so they better find a way to get pressure, to contain the perimeter and how to not lose receivers in the middle so that they are wide open. On offense we need to make sure we work to get first downs until they turn into touchdowns, not try and get touchdowns ever play. 3rd and 1 is a perfect time to work for just a first down.

Rough game and like the unmentionable disaster last year against the suck faces from Montlake or like John Canzano on Pure-Orange this game needs to never be mentioned. Unless it happens again next week. Then serious conversations need to be had, because this team and this school can be a contender and the current methods are not working for that. It can still be a decent year, but I am not sure I can see a championship from this regime until we go through a season with zero flushers.

Things We Cannot Do This Year

In watching a replay of last year’s game against Stanford, a few scenarios need to be avoided for the Beavers to win.

Late in the first quarter, the Beavers get a big fumble return from Scott Crichton that gets them to around their 45 yard line.  Two quick passes to Mullaney later, they are in the red-zone looking to score.  Even a field goal is a huge difference in this game and a touchdown is THE difference.

What happens to OSU is something they need to be aware of.  On first and ten from the 17 the Beavers see this:

osu-v-stan-01

The three highlighted players are the blitzers, bringing the total of Stanford’s rushers to 7.  If you look at OSU’s formation, they have five linemen, a tight end and a running back, so they have numbers to stop the pressure.

osu-v-stan-02

Unfortunately, both the tight end and the running back went out for passes.  If you look at the circles now, you will see that our running back is in the middle running on a route. The tight end is upfield apparently blocking, while Cooks and Mullaney are running a pick route at the top. If you can see, Cooks is going to be open and Mullaney is doing a great job running between Cooks and his defender. Unfortunately, since no one stayed in, OSU is blocking 7 with 5 and Sean is running out of time.

Ultimately, this play ends up a sack and while Cooks was open and the play was a good one, when they saw the safety and linebackers run up to blitz, they should have either had the tight end stay in, or at least chip, or had the running back help.  Either of those may have given Sean the second he needed to get the ball out on a positive play> Not sure it would have scored, but it would be good.

The following play, they called a tight end screen and Stanford brought no one, so it was going to be tough to get good yards on that play. Plus the pass was tipped.

The next play was the worst in my opinion.  While still in field goal range, though it would be a long one, the Beavers line up with a single back and four wide.

osu-v-stan-03

Our Tight end, though in tight, is standing up and a yard or two off, obviously going out for a route.  Our running back is split to the left, almost in a power I look, without the other back.

This formation actually looks perfect, but there was some communication errors.

osu-v-stan-04

Stanford brings four, but Harlow blocks down and the back goes out for a pass instead of protecting.  What ends up happening is that the defender comes clean without even a chip block by the back and gets a free shot on Sean.

These things cannot happen and my guess is that Harlow was very worried about the backer that lined up close to the line. He doesn’t rush and they do a twist stunt in the middle and Harlow just ignores the defensive end.

These scenarios cannot happen this year.  We need to make sure that if we get an opportunity, that we make the most of it.  We cannot have mental mistakes ruin good drives, and these were mental mistakes. While not ideal, a time out on first down would have been better than snapping it with no protections called and terrible numbers facing you.  If this season to date is ANY indication, OSU will get opportunities off of Stanford mistakes. So lets make sure we make the most of them. In a game where every point appears to be important, the Beavers have to score every time. If you need to use a time out, use it.  If you need to change the play or protection, do it.  There cannot be Red Zone drives that end in 0.

GO BEAVERS!

Official Candy Report Awards: Utah

This week was a weird one in that there are four people that deserve awards, and I only have three, so we are going to have some Co-Awardees.

Halloween Spice Drop Award of Being Amazing Every Week, and then Being Amazinger:
There is a player that we are going to miss terribly next year.  He is not leading the team in anything except maybe motor and applied bruises, but he is most likely one of the best defensive linemen to wear a Beaver Jersey.  At least top 10 since 1999.  Dylan Wynn is a machine that plays anywhere, does everything and proved it this weekend more than ever.  Not only did he record his first ever interception, but he was a disruptive force all game long.  Wynn and co-conspirator Bud Delva were all over the place, but Wynn getting the interception and setting up two sacks with his physical play got the edge for me.

We are going to miss Dylan as a leader and as a player next year, and while he is not going to leave OSO with his name all over the record books, he will leave a huge hole to fill.   This weekend was proof of that.  I would not be shocked if Delva and Wynn are competing for this award next week as well.

Jujifruit Award for Improved Play that Belies Their Age
If I knew nothing about OSU Football and had never seen a game or looked at a roster, I would be SHOCKED to hear that Jordan Villamin and Justin Strong were not at least Juniors.  Both of these players forced my hand at giving them co-awards by being dominant forces that could not be denied.

In Villamin, we may have found our deep threat, as the 6’4″, 230 pound receiver has the tools to separate and make teams pay while at the same time was able to pull in two highlight reel catches that both happened to be touchdowns.  Hopefully the confidence that Jordan got this weekend carries through because he is a big and important target fort he Beavers, especially with the injury to Mullaney.  If Jordan continues to improve, along with Bolden and Jarmon, this could be the most talented trio of receivers OSU has had ever.

Justin Strong on the other hand has only become the kind of player we have always wanted on defense.  He covers well, he tackles like an 8 year NFL veteran and he is fearless.  I have been trying to think of the last player that has his skill set we have ever seen, but every name I think of is less complete.  Piscatelli wasn’t abel to cover as well as Justin, nor could Afalava. Meeuwsen wasn’t as fast as Justin, Mitchell wasn’t the same tackler.  Murphy would be the closest in my mind, but Justin seems to have unbelievable instincts.  Ultimately, I have a hard time remembering a player that I just trusted 100%, even in the open field, to make the play and get the guy down.

Both of these guys have NFL potential, and it was super nice to see them flash it on Saturday.  Obviously the loss was rough, but without those two guys, it would have been a heck of a lot rougher.

Good N’ Plenty Award For Ruining Football
For the first time in forever, a la Frozen, I am at a loss for words.  I am looking at the last week in football and there are no huge issues for me.  I was annoyed that Florida State beat Notre Dame, even though I am not a fan of either team, but because there is so much to dislike about FSU.

And that was really my issue.  I look at the game of college football and I see it getting ruined.  While it has never been pristine (read the book Meet on the Hoof to find out what old school terribleness was like) there were always certain things that football had, including a deep tie to the school, a certain amount of school spirit and a certain level of joy for the game by the community and the team itself.

I feel like that is exiting the sport rapidly.  Attendance is down in all sports, especially from students.  Players are less and less accessible to the schools, in some cases having separate housing, studying and even courses so that their involvement in the actual day to day activities of the school are limited.  For those that remember the Giant Killers, most of the players on that team were part of a fraternity and part of everyday life at their school.  While OSU players tend to still be involved with their schools, not all universities can say the same.

You have huge money going to coaches, going to networks and players soon to be getting paid.  The model of the sport has changed to the point that stadium attrition and media attention are going to make the bulk of the income that athletic departments get be from media contracts and not ticket sales.  With the ever changing media markets, and the trouble networks are having due to DVR and alternative viewing sources like Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire, that relationship may be more tenuous in the long run than people realize.

Throw in the creation of the Big 5 and when I look around at football, the biggest disappointment is the sport itself and what it has become.  I enjoy watching games, but I hate seeing something that could be great turned into something that will be managed like Reality TV instead of just Reality.  I watch Pac-12 games and am bombarded with Pac-12 propaganda that has nothing to do with the game at hand.  TV timeouts that used to last a minute or two are now six minutes and the effect of all the game stoppages due to advertisement result in silly conditional rules to speed the game up, like not stopping the clock on out of bounds plays unless it is the last two minutes of each half.  Or rules that cater to the up tempo offenses rather than that just protect players and keep the game fair.

For instance, for the first time in my life, I saw a play where a quarterback was across the line of scrimmage, passed the ball, threw an incompletion and the QB was knocked on their butt.  The play was reviewed and the refs indicated that the players whole body was not across the line, so the hit on him was a personal foul.  THEY CALLED A PENALTY FROM THE BOOTH!  That has never happened and is a terrible precedent.  Not only that, the only time in the entire game of football where it is not just the ball that dictates what being across the line is, or any part of your body, is this new rule about approaching the line of scrimmage.  This is because it helps spread teams that use this technique a lot.  Every other instance in the game if your toe touches the out of bounds, or the ball touches the goal line, that is all you need.  But in this ONE instance, you have to have your whole body across the line.  That is ridiculous and a dumb rule.

So college football, you get this award for being the worst version of yourself I have ever seen.  The games are still exciting, but every thing around you is painful and in some case, harmful to the sport.

The Official Candy Report: Utah

I have new respect for the media. Day after day, members have to go out and report about what they see — so staying engaged must be rough. It’s so hard for me to do anything after a Beaver loss, let alone go out in the community and read what I am sure will be angry and bitter posts.

This past weekend, OSU had a chance to really put a stamp on the season, and they came up just short. It was not due lack of effort or planning, but just some mistakes that were far too costly for the Beavers to overcome. A dropped pass, a turnover, a penalty, and a few head- scratching calls amid a mostly well-called game.

What hurt me the most was watching a SUPERIOR defensive effort go to waste due to some of these mistakes. It was a tough loss, but one that didn’t outrage me like others. We are halfway through the season and on the horizon I see a chance to match the record of the first half or exceed it. I also see a chance to end the season flat, and that ultimately is the issue at hand. There were many players who played amazing against Utah such as Dylan Wynn and Justin Strong. There also were many players who continued to battle and came on strong at the end when they were needed such as Sean Mannion and Jordan Villamin. There also were some players that saw the field for the first time against a very good defense such as Dustin Stanton.

There was a little bit of everything, but in the end, Utah’s defense was too strong and DeVonte Booker got loose.

What did OSU need to do to win? Less mistakes would be first thing to pop to mind, but there is something more. OSU needs to do something with its run game. We saw two fly sweeps that went for a total of 35 yards.  We saw them run a lot of fly sweep fakes that ended with inside stretches and counters. The Beavers need to take the next step and start running bootlegs and options off it, or backside screens.  They need to run it out of Wildcat formation or do double passes out of it. In short, they need to change how they run. OSU’s vertical passing game is one of the best in the nation, even as it’s searching for this year’s deep threat (Is it Villamin, Bolden, or Jarmon? All three have multiple plays over 20 yards), they also need to take some pressure off their line and make the defense think a bit.

There is no reason to move to a total Air Raid offense or to jump on the read option bandwagon. Keeping their defense fresh gives the Beavers the best chance to win, and much like UCLA and Stanford, that starts with being able to run the ball well. The Beavers could have the best offense among those teams if they can invigorate their ground game. They still amassed 100+ yards, but had a few of those sacks been running plays, they could have had many more yards.

The loss of Woods, Andrews, and Mullaney definitely limited the Beavers, but it also was all the more reason to attack the outside. There were very few outside run plays in general, and that is sad. As the box narrowed and narrowed, the Beavers had less and less opportunities to break off a run.

So while the Utah game may have come down to a drop or a snap, the larger picture rests on how the Beavers innovate and refresh their running game. That alone, will take them to another level. This weekend was the most they had run fly sweep motion since the Maryland game in 2007. In fact, it was the most fly sweep fakes they have ever run. Hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.  And hopefully, in tight games such as the Utah one, they take shots with a flea flicker or a double pass, just to get points on the board and give the defense some cushion.

Regardless, Stanford looms as a team that OSU not only has to beat, but honestly should beat. The Beavers just have to find a way to get the ball to their playmakers and avoid mistakes. The defense will take care of the rest. That has been the recipe all year long, and OSU has yet to get the dish just right. No better time than now I guess.

Go Beavers!

Stanford Game Preview

What: Oregon State (4-2 overall, 1-2 Pac-12) at Stanford (4-3, 2-2)

When: 12:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California

On the Air: ESPN2/Beaver Sports Network

Series: 52-25-3 Stanford.

Last season: The Beavers’ 4th-quarter rally effort came up short, as Stanford escaped Corvallis with a 20-12 win. The Cardinal defense held strong the entire game, especially during the final drive, as it stopped the Beavers from scoring on four downs from the 7-yard line. Sean Mannion completed a career-high 41 passes, and his 8-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks late in the third quarter was OSU’s only TD. Running back Tyler Gaffney scored all three of Stanford’s touchdowns while finishing with 145 yards on 22 carries. The Cardinal sacked Mannion eight times.

Notes: Stanford is coming off a 26-10 loss to Arizona State last Saturday in Tempe. The loss dropped the Cardinal out of the Top-25 for the first time since 2010. OSU head coach Mike Riley’s first conference win was against Stanford (30-23) on Oct. 10, 1998. The longest passing play in OSU history occurred against Stanford, a 97-yard bomb from Jonathan Smith to Chad Johnson in 2000. Another record that could fall against the Cardinal:  Mannion needs 316 passing yards to become the Pac-12’s all-time leading passer.

5 Keys to Victory

1. Protect Mannion. Don’t let Stanford’s record deceive you, its defense is still one of the best in the nation and will bring constant pressure. Last year, the Cardinal defense sacked Mannion eight times, and even though he completed 41 passes, many of them were short, dump-off type passes. The Beavers need to do a better job protecting Mannion on Saturday, but it will be a tall order for an offensive line dealing with injuries.

2. Avoid silly turnovers. Saturday’s game figures to be a defensive battle and low scoring. So the Beavers need to take care of the ball. They can’t afford to be sloppy and give Stanford the ball with good field position. Holding onto the ball on handoffs and catches will be crucial, too, as Stanford defenders always tackle hard.

3. Pass the ball. OSU struggled rushing the ball last year against Stanford, netting just 17 yards. Stat-wise, a lot of that was due to all the sacks, but the fact of the matter was that yards on the ground were hard to come by. Expect that to be the case Saturday as well, so the Beavers need to be able to throw the ball. The good news is Jordan Villamin had a breakout game last weekend, and hopefully, he and the other WRs build off that momentum.

4. Don’t leave points on board. The Beavers need to convert in the red zone, on big plays, and their field goals. They likely won’t have a ton of opportunities against Stanford, so they need to take advantage of what they can get. If things get really sluggish, they shouldn’t be afraid to get aggressive and take some chances. After all, Stanford isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut this season.

5. Keep ball away from Montgomery. Ty Montgomery is Stanford’s big-play threat, not just in the passing game, but on special teams as well. The Beavers need to limit his touches because he is capable of taking it to the house anytime he touches the ball. Being physical with him and getting him out of rhythm early will be key. If the Beavers can do that, it could result in Stanford’s offense struggling like it did against ASU.

Game Prediction: 24-17 Stanford. On the road against one of the better defensive teams in the county doesn’t bode well for an offense that’s banged up and has struggled with consistency. Of course, I’d like to be wrong — Go Beavs! (RW)

What are your predictions/thoughts? Can OSU get back on track after two tough losses?

Simple Changes Can Pay Off BIG

In wake of OSU’s heartbreaking loss to Utah, there has been a lot of banter about what Mike Riley and the Beavers need to do to keep up with the constantly-getting-tougher Pac-12. The numbers don’t lie — conference play hasn’t been kind to the Beavers lately.

Sweeping changes aren’t coming anytime soon. The program isn’t going to get a sugar daddy donor, start landing 5-star recruits left and right, or fire Mike Riley. But after watching other games this past weekend, there are smaller changes that could have a big impact.

One of them being to develop a QB who can buy extra time, not just for himself, but the offensive line and wide receivers. I know what you’re thinking, “Haven’t Beavers fans been clamoring for a mobile QB for awhile?” The answer is yes.

But fans haven’t always been realistic about the issue. The harsh truth is that Andrew Lucks and Marcus Mariotas don’t grow on trees. Also, QBs such as them can pretty much pick where they want to play.

While having that caliber of QB would be awesome, it would just be nice to see Beaver QBs coached and encouraged more to extend plays with their feet, whether it’s with a few steps or rolling outside. It makes things that much harder for opposing defenses and can to lead big plays, which haven’t materialized very often for the Beavers this season.

Think about a QB such as Eastern Washington’s Vernon Adams (sorry to bring up a name you’d erased from memory). He’s not the fastest guy in the world, but he makes plays because he knows when and how to use his feet to extend a play. Another great example: Russell Wilson (who sadly, also has beat OSU).

Looking at OSU’s roster, there’s a QB who could fit this mold: freshman Marcus McMaryion. He reportedly runs a legit 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, yet is considered more of passing QB. Best of both worlds, right?  But the bigger question is would McMaryion, or whoever is the starter next season, be coached to extend plays more often?

That would be a simple change that pays off big for the Beavers. More importantly, it’s not some knee jerk reaction that requires a lot of money or someone to be let go. It’s just a matter taking a more forward approach with the offensive philosophy. (RW)

Being a Beaver Fan Is Not For the Faint of Heart

Last week was a tough one for Beaver fans. While a win of against Utah would have not only put OSU in a tie for first in the North, it also would’ve been much better to be 5-1 — with what now looks like four very winnable games on the horizon. Instead, just being one game back, feels like a “Been there, Done that” routine. Many Beaver fans, some for more than 50 years, are frustrated that they might never see OSU reach the pinnacle of the conference.

Younger fans wonder why some teams can put up gaudy offensive numbers, and yet OSU seems to be stagnant in the offensive department.  And many fans look 37 miles down Highway 99 and wonder why the crap those guys have so much success, while the Beavers seemingly have to fight just to be in the middle of the conference.

The reality is that there’s a myriad of reasons, some legitimate, some more urban legend than reality. I am a huge fan of OSUProf’s blog. If you look at his statistical analysis of OSU since 1999, the results are quite frankly alarming.  While there are a lot of ups and downs, the general trend is downwards. Equally damning is his report on the ducks’ rise, showing that they are trending upwards in most categories during the same time span.

This is unbearable to many Beaver fans, and has nothing to do with the heart of the players playing or the effort they are giving.  While the down years of 28 losing seasons were rough, many of those were shared suffering with our nemesis to the south. At the same time, even as recently as the 2000s, OSU was trading annual state dominance with the ducks. This ended abruptly in 2008 and has yet to be relinquished. Last year was close, but even that would have turned an eventually 7-win season into an 8-win one, something that while good by historical OSU standards, is not the sign of dominance Beaver fans are looking for.

While I tend to run a bit on the positive side, I have noticed that next year looks to be extremely tough for the Beavers, because of a lot great players graduating. I won’t be shocked if the Beavers are paraded out as the worst team in the conference by pollsters. So what is the solution? What does it take to make this program into an elite one?

I am not sure — but I don’t think it starts with getting rid of Mike Riley. Utah is a single loss, and a rough one against a solid team, but it doesn’t signify the end of OSU’s hopes. It does mean that the margin of error is very thin the rest of the season and eliminating errors has not been OSU’s forte this season. At the same time, I really can’t say that the Beavers are out of any game with the defense they have on the field this year.

And I guess that is the problem. Every year we see a team that has some aspect that is fantastic and some aspect that needs work. Last season, the offense was great and the defense was suspect. The year before they were both pretty good, but injuries revealed a very thin team.  In 2011, there weren’t many areas that didn’t have flaws, and in 2010 and 2009, depth and wholesale replacement of multiple position groups led to teams that could have been better than their seasons showed.

OSU has had a hard time building depth and getting elite players to Corvallis. There also are trends in play calling and clock management that leave many fans frustrated.  Additionally, there are staff issues, such as highly-paid assistants whose units finish near the bottom of the conference. While OSU may turn the corner and win 4+ games the rest of the year and make some noise in November, the outlook in 2015 and on does not feel like it’ll be an upward trajectory.

So what should we do? What is the answer? Who do we get rid of? Well, those questions are up for debate for sure, but here is what I know. Fewer and fewer high school teams are running Pro-Style offenses. Also, in modern terms, blocking in Pro-Style offenses is getting more and more difficult, and running backs are having a hard time turning down 2,000-yard seasons and tons of touchdowns to join a team where they are going to block as much as they are going to run the ball. In the long run, I think that OSU and Mike Riley need to re-evaluate more than a few plays, but re-evaluate a lot of what the program does. It doesn’t require a huge cleaning of house, but they need to find something that is going to give the Beavers an edge and change how they do things.

Some want the Beavers to go for an athletic QB and pattern themselves after the ducks or Arizona. I would prefer something more like Cal or WSU to go with the offense we already have. Regardless of what it is, while a big close to this season would be a fantastic change of events and would brighten up so many spirits, I think there needs to be a longterm plan for getting back on track — one that is willing to start from ground zero and change how they do everything. The alternative is not exciting for Beaver fans. I will not give up on this season until it is over, and I think that there will be improved football if the team can avoid further injuries.  That being said, no matter how this season ends, more needs to be done to build excitement for next year and the future.

So my only thought is that in this era of football, like Paterno, Bowden, and Bellotti before him, Mike Riley needs to make sure that he is constantly evolving as a coach and brings in new coaches with fresh philosophies to adjust the OSU offense so it doesn’t get left behind. I want OSU to win out, get 11 wins, and go to a BCS bowl. I want that more than anything in all of football-dom. I just don’t think it will happen, and I worry about the continued apathy toward the program. Right now, I can barely bring myself to visit fan sites because it’s the same thing, post after post. Until OSU wins some big conference games, I am afraid I can’t blame those frustrated posters.

Before I get into anything about that game…

I wanted to take the time to say that I appreciate the effort of the team, I appreciate the heart they showed to make plays when they had to for most of the game and how they left it all out on the field.

There were mistakes made for sure, and when they watch the film of the game it will be painful for a lot of them, but that should not diminish the fact that they out defended a defensive juggernaut, they had their chances to beat them and up until they end they fought hard.  Players like Dylan Wynn, Justin Strong, Michael Doctor, Terron Ward, Sean Harlow, Caleb Smith, Connor Hamlett and basically the whole defense should be proud of their effort.  I am sure they are sick to their stomachs today, and will hear all sorts of terrible things this week, but from this fan, I cannot express enough how much I appreciate how hard they played.

I also appreciate the coaching staff and their work.  It was a loss and there is a lot to clean up for next week against Stanford, but any critique I give this week will be about mistakes, mental lapses and maybe a philosophical issue or two.  What it will not be about is plays constantly getting in late, adjustments failing, abandoning the run, abandoning their identity or not preparing their team for what they would face.

Finally, as disappointed as I am, as crappy as my day overall was yesterday, I am ready for the next game and I feel like OSU has a shot. GO BEAVERS!