Oh the pendulum of college football swings wide again this week. After a pretty miserable first week of Pac -12 play in week one, the conference rebounded and had a solid week two, except for the State of Oregon. Week three saw the pendulum swing back and a lot of teams looked as if they took a step or six backwards.
For the Beavers, there were good moments and seemingly a lot of momentum at the end of week one, this carried over for exactly two drives the next week (one offensive and one defensive) until they got just worn out by Michigan. Coming back this week, there were a lot of issues that needed to be addressed, some small and some big. By the end of week 3, many of those were addressed and in a big way.
The reality of the 2015 Beavers is that they are a defensive team. They have shown this each week as the defense has been either the consistent strength of the game or the last man standing. The offense took a few leaps forward this week as well, but is still a work in progress. Ultimately, it was enough to beat San Jose State. Unlike their Pac-12 North brethren, the Beavers are not going to just be able to outscore teams at will. Washington, our closest counterpart, needed a lot of razzle dazzle to get their points and have yet to have a game that wasn’t in part decided by special teams.
In my mind, the best part of the team, as a unit, is the secondary. Coach Odum’s squad are on fire, giving up just one touchdown through the air (on a broken play) all season and no passes of over 25 yards yet. They have been able to keep everything in front of them and seem to always be around the ball for support in runs as well. All of this without a huge push by the defensive line or a ton of sacks. They showed that this week, especially in the second half really clamping down on the San Jose receivers all game long.
The next best unit is the offensive line. They managed the line of scrimmage most of the game. In fact, with Drew Clarkson getting his first start at guard, the interior three really were physically dominant and pushed around the defense all day long. The great thing with this team is the depth they are building at offensive line. Clarkson being ready to go is a huge step for the Beavers to now have some options on the interior. Fred Lauina was playing pretty well so for Clarkson to be getting these reps, you have to be pretty confident in his abilities.
Finally our linebackers, particularly Mageo, have really been stepping up a lot this season. We have seen some great play by them all over the field. Manase Hungalu had a monster game and was all over the place against San Jose State. You also have Caleb Saulo making plays left and right with a fantastic interception return for a touchdown. The aggressiveness of the defense seems to start with this group and they definitely answered the call to step up this week.
Leaving Ann Arbor, it was not a lock that OSU was going to win this week. The first half did nothing to quell those fears. But the coaches made adjustments, the team narrowed down their mistakes and exploited the mistakes of their opponent. Like many games this weekend, it was about adjustments and making teams pay for turnovers and brain lapses. If the Beavers can be the team that makes the least mistakes, they have a shot in all of their games. Especially with their defense. In a year where there seems to be a lot of sketchy defenses in the Pac-12 North, the Beavers may have one of the best.
Any time you win it is great. When a team this young can shake off a bad loss the week before AND make great half time adjustments to run away with the game, it is even better. This is a learning year and the lessons taught in the San Jose State game will carry over in to the future. It is just always nice when those lessons are wrapped in a team victory.
Go Beavs (PRO)