As I mentioned last week, to no one in particular, I was a bit worried about the Colorado game. The injuries, the rough game the week before, the second straight road game in the high altitude of Boulder Colorado against a team with a very mobile QB and high octane, fast paced offense.
While many may look at Colorado’s record and think they are terrible, they are capable of winning most games this year in the era of no Pac-12 defense. I was certain that OSU’s offense would improve over the week before, but would it be enough? Starting 0-2 in the Pacific 12 would be devastating for a team returning so much talent and experience.
What I actually saw was a team that did what it takes to win. They ran effectively and enough to extend drives and give their defense a break. Their defense adjusted to changes the other team made and to the tiredness and injuries from the week before. The coaches did a good job of bringing pressure when they needed to and held the Buffaloes to under their season average for yards and points.
The other side of the game that was intriguing to me was the way the offense basically imposed their will on Colorado early on and in the second half. They ran with authority getting 40 yards more than their average and they passed where they could. Players like Caleb Smith and Hunter Jarmon came up big at big times. While there was still an issue getting separation or running routes correctly, there was a lot to be excited about the passing game.
Running the ball was especially effective. OSU’s interior of their line was driving back the Buffalo defense four and five yards initially. The first run after Alexander’s interception could have been a touchdown if he had cut behind the guard and center. There were also a lot more cut blocks by the line, especially to stop the defender left behind pulling guards or tackles from getting upfield. It looked very similar to what USC was doing to us last week.
The last huge piece was Sean Mannion. While he is not able to get the eye popping numbers of Connor Halliday, he is getting the most out of what he has and showing amazing poise in the pocket. His pull up toss to Jarmon, after eluding pressure and moving towards the line of scrimmage was a perfect throw (and amazing catch) while on the run. My confidence in Mannion has never been higher, and he is coming through in the clutch a lot.
There is a lot of work on still, but after five games, in the craziest year of Pac-12 football I have ever seen, getting a win on the road, and doing it after another tough loss is a big deal and I am very excited for the Beavers. With just two road tests left this season, and more than 9 days between each of the next two games, I think the Beavers have a good shot agains a very good Utah team and the offensively challenged Cardinal.