For the first time this season, I am deciding these awards with just too many people to choose from. Two 100-yard rushers each with 60+ yard runs, two interceptions, one for a touchdown, a 100-yard receiver with a key 63-yard reception, a warrior of a cornerback who took on and shut down one of the best receivers in the nation, a defensive lineman who dominated the opposing team all night long, and is so physical that even just an average block by him sounds like targeting.
The coaches did a great job, plays got in quickly and, probably most importantly, they looked prepared. The team as a whole looked more prepared than they have in forever. They came out ready from the get go, especially on defense.
So who do I give the awards to? I kind of want to give them to everyone, but I am going to choose just three people.
1. The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Being Awesome
There are players who are warriors such as Dylan Wynn, who give everything they have every week. There are players that do more with the skill they have who Mike Hass, who are not denied no matter how good their opponents are. Some players are all of those things, and Terron Ward is one of those players. Finding out that his career at OSU may be over, I wanted to highlight a player who has always given all he had, been key to many great Beaver wins, and who came to OSU with no fanfare or recruiting service accolades — and yet, will leave one of our great backs of all time.
While he came to the Beavers during a time when the pass was king, Ward’s ability to block, catch the ball, and make the first guy miss made him invaluable. The speed and quickness that he hits the hole with led to some huge runs like the ASU game in 2012 or this last contest against those same Sun Devils. Terron has been a great member of Beaver Nation, never complaining about splitting time with Storm Woods, never complaining about a loss or a game that he felt he could have played a larger role in. He is a great ambassador for the program and a huge part of the last three seasons. I am sad his time at OSU came to an end too soon. He would have been a huge piece this weekend, as OSU has to find an answer to Washington’s great front seven. But for one week at least, he helped those around him have their best weekend of the season. For that, these spice drops are for you Terron.
2. The Jujifruit Award of Getting Better All The Time
There has been a lot of talk among Beaver Nation concerning the offensive line. While I have my thoughts on them, I think some of the grief they get is not entirely their fault. That being said, this last week, the line played the best they have played all year. It was the first time since conference play started that OSU started the same line two games in a row. As Gavin Andrews got more familiar with playing guard, and as ASU brought everything, the offense was able to churn along and blitzes were picked up well. Josh Mitchell did an amazing job working at center as the interior part of the line created holes all game. When I think of the offensive line’s performance Saturday, i think of this photo I saw on Building The Dam (full article is here and is well worth reading). You see Andrews turning to go after someone else after knocking his defender to the ground. You see Mitchell attempting to block any defenders that flow back inside, and you have a hole that you could drive a truck through that Woods is running out of.
When we talk about what we want from a line, that was it — players who dominate their guy and then look for someone else, guys who keep working down the field to make sure that the play goes for as many yards as they can, and players who are physically able to execute what is asked of them. It has not always been that way this season. There have been other photos or film moments of guys standing around, confused in the face of twist stunts, or just chasing guys that they missed the block on.
So for me, a huge step was taken last week. ASU doesn’t have a great run defense, but it has a solid total defense that was ranked fifth in the conference, and Oregon State shredded them. So thank you offensive line, for not giving up and always getting better. Players like Dustin Stanton, Andrews, Mitchell, Fred Lauina, and Sean Harlow give us a lot of hope for the future. It was just one game, and the front seven they face this week is going to be a tougher test, but with a lineup that appears to be set, and players beginning to get healthier, there is a chance that we will see another solid effort by this group.
And that can only mean good things for the Beavers.
3. The Good N Plenty Award of Crapiness.
To me, this was the easiest award to give. College Football has often lived by water cooler arguments and heated fan altercations. As part of the Civil War, a game so hostile that we use the same name as the worst war in American history to describe it, we all understand this. We understand that the point of the BCS was to anger people into a little extra passion every year. We know that the reason they don’t shrink the season to nine games and go to a playoff is because College Football is forever more popular when there is no clear winner and tons of speculations.
So it should come as no shock that with the new and-1 method of deciding the National Championship, that the people in charge of this faux playoff would find a way to make it infuriatingly controversial. Rather than just going with the BCS computer rankings or the AP Poll, the decide they need another BCS type system where such giants of College Football such Condoleezza Rice select who should play in the “playoffs.” So they get together every week and decide, publicly of course, who the top four teams are.
And it has absolutely no bearing on the final result. Many of the people I work with think it provides momentum, but it is false momentum that shouldn’t even be a factor because, as we saw this last week, until the last game is played, no one is safe. Momentum will do the ducks no good if they lose the Civil War. All it will mean is that for weeks they were part of a discussion they didn’t belong in, because it was a discussion that was too early. It is like deciding four name choices for a child before you know what sex it is. Guess wrong and you may have to scrap four names that should never have been in contention.
All this total farce of a process does is become another money grab by the people who get the richest off college athletics, the networks. It gives ESPN more money, which they truly need, and allows them to occupy Monday through Wednesday with infuriated fans who feel their team of choice was jilted unfairly from being in the process. One-loss Alabama jumped unbeaten Florida State because they looked good that weekend and the thought of Alabama not being in the top spot feels wrong. But what if Alabama loses in the SEC Championship game? Then that two-loss team will pack its bags and go to the Sugar Bowl or whatever. But they will not be in the championship, so all that their inclusion in the conversation did was piss off FSU fans.
So way to go College Football. While the NFL is the reigning champion of a-holes in sports, you are doing your best to try and keep up with your rich, dysfunctional pro cousin. When this season is over and you have 10 one-loss teams to choose from, there will be plenty of anger to last all the way to next August. But right now all it does is make my life a little more unbearable in Eugene as I have to listen to different National Championship scenarios ad nauseum. Just wait until the end, because unlike the BCS bowl game, there is no rhyme or reason to how these guys votes. There are no point totals to climb and reach, and there are no predictable scenarios. Just a bunch of people that have opinions throwing them out there.
Why don’t they just start a blog or something?