Monthly Archives: October 2015

5 Stats I Liked & 5 I Didn’t Like: Colorado

Well, not much to say about the Beavers’ latest setback that dropped them to the bottom of the Pac-12 North. The bright spot for me besides the amazing weather was seeing Nick Mitchell get his first shot. It will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation plays out the rest of the season. Onto the main event…

5 Stats I Liked:
122… Rushing yards for Ryan Nall. The RS freshman enjoyed a breakout performance against  Colorado, averaging 6.1 yards on 20 carries. His 1-yard TD run with 2:58 left in the opening quarter gave OSU its only lead of the game. Nall moves the pile impressively and is a bruiser!

24… Passes attempted by Nick Mitchell. He only completed nine of them, but the important thing was that he finally got a chance to show what he could do. He appears to know the offense well and what to do. He just needs more time to get comfortable.

4.9… Average yards per carry for the Beavers… That’s further proof that the Beavers can be effective running the ball, if they commit to it. And I’ll keep beating you guys over the head about this 🙂

6… Stops for Kyle Peko. The much-anticipated defensive lineman enjoyed his best performance in an OSU uniform. One of those tackles for loss. He also had a QB hurry and a pass breakup. Despite the defensive line’s struggles this season, Peko has been strong.

401… Total yards of offense for the Beavers; marking their second-highest total of the season. It was a balanced effort, too, as they rushed for 202 yards and threw for 199 yards. On the other hand, maybe that makes the loss more hard to accept.

5 Stats I Didn’t Like:
1… Touchdown. In a high-powered, high-scoring conference such as the Pac-12, one trip into the end zone isn’t going to cut it — not even close. The Beavers’ offense needs a serious boost, and soon.

40… Percent completion percentage for OSU’s QBs. Yes, the Beavers QBs are young and inexperienced, but it’s still hard to see the passing game struggle, after being spoiled by Mike Riley’s passing attack. The good news: Mitchell throws a pretty catchable ball.

0… Turnovers forced. The Beavers did a good job of limiting the Buffaloes offensively. But in a game where points were hard to come by, a turnover could’ve made all the defense. And it’s frustrating they couldn’t force one against Colorado.

1… Missed field goal. With the score tied at 10, and a chance to go up three early in the third quarter, the Beavers came away empty from 44 yards out. Maybe three points there would’ve helped changed the outcome of the game.

0-4… In Pac-12 play. Sorry, I have to go here. At the end of the game, that’s the stat the matters. The Beavers found themselves alone in the last place and will have a hard time climbing out out of that spot.

With Utah on the docket this Saturday, things definitely don’t get easier for the Beavers, especially because the Utes will be smarting from their loss to USC. The important thing to watch for is more progress to be made, no matter how small. And as always, Go Beavs! (RW)

So what now?

The game on Saturday was, as many pundits have coined, “The Battle for the Basement” between Oregon State and Colorado.  As the team on the losing end, what should Beaver Nation do now?  I mean, there is no way the Beavers are going to win any more games, right?

Well, maybe and maybe not.

Here are three takeaways from this last weekend that I think are important to remember:

  1. There is parity in Football. 
    While a close loss against Colorado at home in front of tens of fans seems like rock bottom,  more than any other year, the distance between the worst team and the best team is short.  Colorado has been close in most of their games this year, even when their QB could barely throw the ball after separating his shoulder.
  2. The season is not, in fact, over.
    So  lets realize that the rest of the games are going to happen. We are not going to just wave the white flag and forfeit them all.  Yes, OSU has some fairly obvious deficiencies, some of which are insurmountable this year. But they also showed that there may be more to this offense than we previously thought. Through injuries and bumps and bruises, some good things happened.  Players like Hopkins, Hill, Soesman and Mitchell (the younger one) showed that are tanks may not be totally empty.

    While there were some issues and things that need to be cleaned up, to me, I saw a lot more potential at the end of the game. I saw them commit to running a talented runner, I saw them feel comfortable calling far more plays than they have called all year, I saw reads being made, blocks being made by new names and really, you cannot ask for a better play than 60 had, coming in for Harlow and totally dominating their defensive end his first snap.

    So maybe if some of these young guys that are just now seeing the field for extended times can be a spark, maybe we can eek out a win before this season ends.  Regardless, what we saw on the field Saturday night should give you a better idea of the completeness of what we can be offensively and defensively.  It wasn’t gangbusters, but the pieces were there to showcase a lot more of what we will see. It was the first time all year I felt that Baldwin was able to flex his muscles a bit.

  3. We are going to lose fans and that is OK.
    Losing teams don’t fill stands.  Plain and simple.  Winning teams do.  So while we may lose some or a lot of our season ticket base, if the coaches are able to turn things around like they have at every other stop they have been at, we will all be reunited again sooner rather than later.

    It is hard to rationalize driving down from Portland for a game that will end at 10 and you won’t get home until 2am, all the while fighting frustrating traffic.  When you expect a loss.  When you are watching a product that you feel is not great to watch, then no, being at games is a stinker.

    On the other hand, it is hard to find tickets when your favorite team is winning.  If you are at win 10 by week 10,  magically the seats get filled with long forgotten faces wanting to catch a glimpse at what all the fuss is about.  When you are undefeated going into the latter half of the season, people find the trip home late at night exhilarating because they are so jacked from the game and what they saw and are talking about it endlessly.  OK, maybe exhilarating is a stretch, but a little bit of tired is nothing compared to the satisfaction of showing your duck fan co-workers your new Beaver Jersey as you announce “Jersey Monday” as a ‘thing’ for the office.

    Winners don’t play in empty stadiums.  Anyone we lose this year, may not be gone for long because the Beavers are going to win again.  And they are going to win soon because there is more and more parity in football and our coaches are too dang good not to.

GO BEAVS! (PRO)

5 Keys for the Beavers: Colorado

Colorado (3-4, 0-3) at Oregon State (2-4, 0-3)
When:
 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Reser Stadium, Corvallis
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/Beaver Sports Network
Series: OSU leads 5-2. The Beavers won last season’s contest in Boulder, 36-31, overcoming a first half deficit. Terron Ward rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Beavers, while Sean Mannion completed 27 of 37 passes, including a score to Caleb Smith. 
Colorado’s last game: Lost 38-31 to Arizona.

5 Keys for the Beavers:
Score two touchdowns in 1st Quarter:
The Beavers need to get off to a fast start and give the defense some breathing room. Plus, a strong start will hopefully help the offense find some sort of rhythm — something it’s lacked the past two games.

Run the Ball, and Don’t Stop: I know, I know, I am starting to sound like a broken record, but the stats back me up, the Beavers  running backs’ yards per carry has been pretty darn good this season, so they need to get the ball more often. Let them find a groove and then run wild.

Keep on Swinging: It’s no secret the Beavers have struggled passing the ball the past two games, but in the late in the WSU game, they found success with swing passes. So they should keep calling those plays until Colorado proves it can stop them.

More Special (Teams) Plays: The Beavers finally broke through on special teams last week with 100-yard kickoff return and a blocked punt, both of which led to scores. So more of the same against the Buffaloes could make all the difference, even if it’s just a 30-yard punt return.

Hold the Buffs Under 24: OSU’s defense has taken its lumps recently, so I’d like to see them rebound and keep a solid Colorado offense in check. If the Beavers can pressure the QB and keep at least one of the Buffs standout WRs in check, it would go a long way.

Here’s the bottom line, this game is for the Pac-12 cellar, and as such, probably represents OSU’s best opportunity for conference win this season. And who knows? Maybe a win Saturday would be the spark the Beavers need to pull off a surprise later on… Go Beavs! (RW)

Struggling Sucks

At the beginning of the year, many of us in Beaver Nation made rational statements such as “With all the changes, I think the Beavers will struggle this year” or “I just want us to be competitive this year.”

You know, the well meaning, level-headed statements that fans use to feel like they are being objective while they mask their real thoughts from the public.

When these statements were made, and I know I was a part of the stoic, “rational” crowd, predictions ran the gamut from a meager two wins to a hopeful eight. There were many people who toned down their usual “Orange-Colored Glasses” approach and tried to be as objective as possible with their annual prognostication.  (We can’t possibly lose to Colorado, Washington State, and Cal can we?)  They would look at the loss of nine seniors on defense, a 3rd round draft pick at quarterback, and a huge change in philosophy and coaching staff as reasons to be guarded.

On the inside, many of us harbored secret hopes. Hopes that three talented returning receivers, five returning linemen with starting experience, and some speed and talent in the defensive backfield might make us a lot better than other less informed people (THE MEDIA!!!!) probably thought.

As the year went on we got hopeful.  An OK win against Weber State, an inspired first half against Michigan left a feeling that we might be getting a bit better. Coming back and rolling SJSU gave us a big boost — and by halftime of the Stanford game, I bet a lot of Beaver Nation thought maybe we would do the unthinkable and go to a bowl game. Or even compete for the Pac-12 North Title!

Ten quarters later, we are wondering if our coaches know what they heck they are doing. The ire of Beaver Nation is murmuring about its frustration with our players and calling them out around the virtual water cooler we call the internet. As a fan base, we are basically falling back to a familiar “We are the Beavers and we suck” mentality that permeated the yet unnamed Beaver faithful of the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

To this I say, well, what do you think struggle means?

I picked OSU to win six games. to upset either Stanford or UCLA, and to be third in the North because I thought Stanford, WSU, and UW would be much worse, and that Cal would be really, really good. I look pretty dumb now.

What did I think struggle meant?

Now we are in the midst of a 2-4 campaign and have been outscored 117-45 in the last 10 quarters. Our pass defense looked good against Michigan, it has looked horrid since the second half against Stanford. Our offense looked like it might be on the verge of being potent while driving the length of the field for three points to end the half at Reser Stadium on October 5. Now it looks like it could be the worst in the conference.

There are also revelations that players are getting left behind on trips for disciplinary reasons, whispers or tweeted whispers of fights and suspensions and trips to the desert with 66 players. Against Arizona we took three defensive tackles  to Tucson. For those who don’t know, that is a very, very low number for a team that sometimes likes to toy with a 4-man front.

What did Beaver Nation  think struggle really meant?

No matter what we thought, we forgot how much it sucks when it is happening. We have a QB that was not on anyone’s recruiting radar as a QB on any Big 5 conference team. We lost a few key defenders early on a defense that lost nine starters. We are breaking in a new system in every aspect of the game; new punter, multiple new kick returners, six linebackers, seven defensive ends, four defensive tackles, four running backs, four tight ends, and are still looking to find a rhythm on defense and offense. Heck, we even just hired a consultant for our offense six games into the season.

This season is akin to a company getting bought and the few months it starts preparing for layoffs based on how employees handle the changes and what talent they need. We are seeing players have to earn their spots in the new regime and they may not all be able to do so. But that doesn’t mean that all the sudden this collection of coaches with success at every stop are terrible. That doesn’t mean we were sold a bill of goods and that these are actually the worst coaches in the conference and have actually just been lucky for years. It also doesn’t mean OSU is a wasteland that will never be a winner again. It doesn’t even mean they were left a bunch of crap to work with.

It means they were left a bunch parts that didn’t fit the new vehicle we bring on the field every week.

it means our coaches have work to do to change everything from philosophy of work, philosophy of leadership, philosophy of community, to the new expectations on how athletes are to look and the conditioning needed to play on Saturday. These coaches and staff  knew they had some serious heavy lifting issues this year so they committed to a process and vision and have not varied from that no matter what it meant to their production on the field.

I assume.  I have no inside information to prove this, but the evidence I see seems to point this direction.

I also assume that they did this because they knew diluting the message and the vision at this point would slow down their progress. Coach Andersen and his staff  also knew they couldn’t cut corners because it would be disingenuous to who they are and come across as fake to the players and recruits..

So now we are in the midst of a tough season that will try Beaver Nation and basically freak everyone in Orange and Black out. That is what a struggling season does. That is what regime change looks like and the way they are going about this year is the only way they are going to create the team that we see in two years. For fans, It sucks right now, but in two years or three years, we will reap the rewards of the toil from this year and it will either be amazing or we will have to think about turning the page.

Regardless, despite my hopes, this year was never going to be different  because no amount of coaching can keep the Titanic afloat. Sometimes you have to let it go down and build a better ship to replace it. That is what I see here, and it will get worse before it gets better, I think. It is not giving up, as the hiring of Coach Crowton attests, but more refining through fire. Once we are through this sharpening phase, I think the team, the staff, and the fans will be stronger as well. Like the ducks are experiencing in Eugene, we may also lose some people along the way, because this is what struggling looks like and it is no fun.

For those who stay, it could just be the most amazing ride of your Oregon State Beavers journey.  You are just going to have to file one or two more years with the other 28 before you get to enjoy it. Beavers are builders.

Go Beavs (PRO)

 

 

The Official Candy Report: Washington State

In the popular 1995 Adam Sandler movie “Billy Madison,” Billy, the title character, is trying to win a sort of academic Olympics against his arch nemesis. One of the events is an oral essay on topics picked by the opponent involving  a myriad of subjects. After Billy (Sandler) gives his response to the Industrial Revolution’s effect on modern literature (by equating it to the children’s book “The Happy Puppy.”), the proctor of the event responds:

Principal: Mr. Madison, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Billy Madison: OK, a simple “wrong” would’ve done just fine.

That exchange pretty much sums up how I felt on Saturday.

I have two very strict rules for this blog:

  1. Don’t be a jerk to players because they are working hard to represent your favorite institution.
  2. Don’t give the bad more weight than the good.

The latter is actually one of my rules for living my life. Despite that, for a myriad of reasons, including survival, we actually do give more weight to negative events than positive ones, and I find that you miss out on some really great things if you do. In most cases, not every part of every team is failing, and the parts that do well don’t deserve to be shamed and painted with the same brush the ones that are struggling do.  I also know that football is a game of inches, and in many cases, a missed opportunity early in the game can have a cascade effect on the rest of the game. Just ask the Washington Huskies.

Unfortunately, this week there was literally nothing about the first 2+ quarters that resembled football from the Beavers, and we are all worse off because of it. Now as said above, I do have to call out the good that happened, and the fight they showed in the second half, rather than just rolling over and dying, shows the effect these coaches are having on the team. It reminded me of the attitudes of the 2008 Penn State game and the 2013 Civil War. Games where OSU was down bad early, came back and played hard in the second half. Both of those games they came up short, but the work in the second half got them rolling and confident for the following week, which were both wins.

But I would lose all credibility as a semi-professional blogger if I ignored the fact that the game Saturday could easily have been one coached by Avazanno, Fertig, or Pettibone.  (I left out Kragthorpe because I think his teams would have been more competitive.)  While the offense did have shades of Pettibone, the defense did not.  All around it was a bad game. I would call this one a “flusher*” but to be honest, two “flushers” in a row starts to become the norm, not an anomaly.  As a writer of a Beavers Blog, this is distressful for a few reasons. One, I don’t really want to write about how terribly my favorite team is. Secondly, no one wants to read it.

So here we are, looking at a team that appears to potentially be what they were picked to be: the worst team in the conference. They will play Colorado this week at home. it will be in front of an embarrassingly small crowd at a time of day when non-competitive teams play (7 p.m. or later) and will be for the basement of the Pac-12. Does this mean our future is bleak? No, if by future, you mean in two years. This season had no choice but to be this way with all the transition and new faces. Recruiting is already showing that changes will be swift and efficient, so the future will be better — and the coaches we are all frustrated with today will be riding on our shoulders tomorrow. Or at least that is what i believe.

On the other hand, for the 2015 football seasn, it looks that way. Outside of the team doing a rapid 180** degree change in execution; blocking, tackling, running, and passing with efficiency and purpose, then yes. Which is sad, because like us, the ducks will probably get better next year, and it means our chances of ending the streak this year, when it will be our easiest shot since 2006, are slim to none.

I know you come here to see the silver lining. Or to make fun of how naive I am. But EVEN I cannot watch the game this weekend without feeling anything but a little bit of bile building up in my throat. There are still six games left, and they may be rough, but like most of my readers, I will be there cheering and hoping for the best. Unfortunately, having been a Beaver fan for 35 years, I am far too experienced at this sort of thing to be fooled again. Much like the 1980 through 1998 seasons, I know you have to put your big boy pants on and cheer week in and week out for the players who chose to represent your school, and are working their butts off to win. Then, in December, take solace in “Maybe next year…”

I had hoped those days were over. Now I just hope that with this new staff, they are numbered.

Go Beavs!  Beat the Buffs! (PRO)

*As I have stated in past articles, a flusher is a game that you almost don’t want to watch the film of, but would rather flush it from your memory and move on. I believe I used the term liberally last week for the Arizona game. This week was worse.

**Good thing my editor Raju caught this mistake. OH WAIT,  It wasn’t him.  It was one of our awesome readers below.  Thank you for picking up Raju’s slack Gus!

(We love Raju here!)

5 Stats I Liked & 5 I Didn’t Like: WSU

These are getting harder and harder to write as the Beavers continue to struggle — their latest setback being to Washington State, 52-31. And let’s not kid ourselves, the game wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate. It’s important to note that the players never quit and turned in a pretty strong second-half performance. Still, it’s clear that the team is in a rut right now.

5 Stats I Liked:
14-7… The Beavers played much better in the second half, especially on defense. They ended up outscoring WSU by a touchdown during the half. So hopefully, the team can carry that momentum into this weekend’s home matchup against Colorado.

100… One of the most disappointing parts of this season has been the return game. But Victor Bolden gave Beaver Nation a huge reason to cheer with his 100-yard kickoff return for touchdown early in the third quarter, during which he turned on some serious jets.

124 yards… There’s no denying that Seth Collins can move the chains with his feet, and he eclipsed 100 rushing yards for the third time in his young career against the Cougars, highlighted by 42-yard run. Now it’s just a matter of his arm catching up to his legs.

 24… That’s where Jonathan Willis recovered a blocked punt by Chris Brown late in the fourth quarter. And two plays later, Brown finished what he started by scoring on a 3-yard run. It was another sterling play by the OSU special teams.

53… The Beavers picked off Luke Falk twice and had two nice returns off them totaling 53 yards, and establishing solid field position for the offense. Rommel Mageo rumbled 23 yards after his interception, and Brandon Arnold sprinted 30 yards after his.

5 Stats I Didn’t Like:
31… Second quarter points by WSU put the Beavers in a hole they were never going to be able to climb out of. And you have to wonder how demoralizing it was to the players. Coming off the loss to Arizona, that certainly wasn’t the confidence builder they needed.

78… Luke Falk had his away against the Beavers completing 78 percent of passes en route to throwing for 406 yards and six TDs, four of which came in that fateful second quarter. Most troubling was that like Anu Solomon the week before, Falk seemingly had all day to throw.

32… Surprisingly, the Cougars’ biggest play of the game went for just 28 yards, but they more than made up for it by converting a whopping 32 first downs — and in the process took control of the game.

7… WSU sacked Collins only once, but they did record seven tackles for loss, a shocking number considering the Cougars aren’t known for their defensive prowess. But then again, the Beavers have had a way of making defenses look stout this season.

2… How long of a day was it for the Beavers? They forced WSU to punt only two times. Let’s hope something turns around soon for the defense, because a strong start to the season, it has had a rough go of it lately.

This weekend’s game is looking like it could be OSU’s best chance at Pac-12 victory this season the rest of the way, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. The Buffaloes feature a solid QB, two good receivers, and an improving running game — meaning the OSU defense will be challenged once again. But hopefully, the offense can at least move the ball better and take some of the pressure off the other side of the ball. Go Beavs! (RW)

 

 

 

 

The Official Candy Report: Arizona

Times are tough for Beaver bloggers these days.  As the lean pickin’s in terms of wins refuse to mount up, the desire to read about their favorite team slips from the minds of Beaver Nation.  As my paltry hit count can attest, the reality is that while most Beaver fans understand that Oregon State is going through a rebuilding and restructuring process that could take a year or two, that doesn’t mean they want to dwell on it.

And I get it. Writing this was not tops on my list of things to do today.

But today, all of the Beaver players continue to prepare for Washington State.  Today they work hard to shrug off the last weekend and look forward to their next opponent. I am inclined to do the same thing, but want to toss one more hope grenade into the ocean of sadness that a loss like that brings.  It is this simple thought:

Football is a game of inches.

Sure, that is a tired old adage, but it is tired because of use and it is used because it is true. Lets look at a few plays:

  1. Larry Scott had perfect coverage on an early 3rd down and 6 yards to go play.  He was right in the hip pocket of the receiver and, while a little behind, it was going to take a perfect throw and catch to complete the ball. And that is what they got. If that ball was under-thrown by a few inches, if Larry could have been a few inches closer it could have just as easily been incomplete and forced a punt by the Wildcats early.

    Instead, first down 50 yards down the field for the bad guys.

  2. In OSU’s first drive, they had a third and six after a solid run by Storm Woods.  Seth hit Villamin with the pass, but he was a little late and behind in the delivery. Had Villamin gotten the ball a bit earlier he had a chance to adjust his path and potentially get the first down. Or if that pass comes a hair later and Villamin is able to use his body to block the defender, it is a first down and OSU continues on its way only down 7-0.

    Instead, 4rth and 1 and OSU punts to the bad guys.

  3. Later in the first half, OSU was only down 10-0 the mistakes passing the ball seemed to lead the coaches to try and just run it down Arizona’s throats. They ran three straight runs up the middle with Ryan Nall.  The first two got 8 yards but the last one got only one yard and left us in a punting situation once again.  Had they ran a fly sweep or a different type of run one of those plays it may have made the difference (we averaged 6 yards per fly sweep).  We also had a few missed blocks on the second run that made it harder for Ryan.  Shore those up and we get a first down and maybe that changes the trajectory of the game.

    Instead, 4th and 1 and OSU punts to the bad guys once again. 

In all four of the Beavers’ first offensive possessions the game was not a blow out.  7 – 0, 10 – 0, 13 – 0 and 13-7 are all manageable deficits.  Even at 20 – 7 OSU had the ball deep in their own territory but had a manageable 3rd and 5 turned into an unmanageable 2nd and 20 after a penlaty which led to a tipped screen pass and a quick trip to 27 – 7’sville.

Football is a crazy game.  A blow out can start small with a dropped pass or a 3rd and long that turns into a 50 yard back breaking big play.  A safety and a corner get confused/  70 yard bomb to a player so wide open it feels like they just ran on the field off the sideline. That is not to say that the play to play grind didn’t have its share of issues.  OSU has a lot to work on this week if they are going to hang with a WSU team that is riding high after a successful trip to Eugene.

But, every play has an impact.  Win The Day is a silly lie.  It is Win The Play, because you never know which one will be the one that changes the game.  That is why championship teams try and be perfect for each one. Only then are the Beavers going to be able to win some games they shouldn’t. Only when each pass feels like the last so you better sell out on throw and catch. Only when each block or each line call seems like the most important one of the game.  Only when you can play at a championship level from down one to down four on defense will the Beavers win consistently.

When the coaches say Respect the Process, I believe that is what they are talking about.  It is not about just running a bunch of fun modern plays, but it is about being strong enough, fast enough, in shape enough and disciplined enough to play each play like it is the only one you have.  It means to be able to attack violently and efficiently play after play until your opponent is worn down because your tank is never empty. That takes longer than six months of lifting. It takes longer than a single spring and fall camp of install.  OSU will get there through hard work and recruiting. This past weekend sucked and I think we will see a better effort come Saturday.  Will it be enough? I have no idea, but I will say this:

If the Beavers win, it will be because they did all the little things and won the game of inches. Emotion can cloud reality, but film never lies and in every blow out there are a hand-full of plays that were close, but not enough. I can think of six in the first two quarters, and that is, unfortunately, six to many.

Go Beavs!  Beat the Cougs! (PRO)

5 Stats I Liked & 5 I didn’t Like

There’s no way around it — the Beavers got their butts handed to them by Arizona. Adding to my misery was the fact that I was there at Arizona Stadium and witnessed the carnage up close and personal. Here’s five statistics I liked, good and bad.

5 Stats I Liked:
1… You’d think being on the losing end of 44-7 affair meant that the Beavers turned the ball over here and there, but they didn’t. As impressive as that is, unfortunately, the Beavers weren’t able to capitalize and struggled to move the ball pretty much the entire game.

4.9… Was the Beavers’ average yards per carry against the Wildcats, which is pretty darn good. It’s also proof that if they would commit to the run, it could pay off. But Storm Barr-Woods, who averaged 6.7 YPC only received nine carries. That’s unacceptable.

6th… Speaking of Barr-Woods, he rushed for 61 yards, eclipsing 2,500 yards for his career — making him the sixth running back in program history to reach that mark. The senior now needs 48 yards to pass Dave Schilling for fifth place.

10… When Seth Collins was sidelined in the second quarter, Marcus McMaryion finally got some meaningful snaps. He threw 10 passes, completing four. Despite attempting 14 less passes than Collins, he finished with 42 yards, while Collins has 58.

5… Despite his emphasis on discipline, Gary Andersen’s squad has been penalized quite a bit this season. That wasn’t the case against Arizona, as OSU committed five for 59 yards, compared to seven for the Wildcats. The bad news, they had more penalty yards than UA.

5 Stats I Didn’t Like:
44… Allowing 44 points to a struggling Wildcats squad wasn’t what the doctor ordered for a unit that was coming off giving up 40+ points to Stanford. And sadly, 34 of those points came in the first half — pretty much making game, set, match at that point.

368… Of Arizona’s 644 total yards of offense came on the ground. It’s an understatement to say the Wildcats ran the ball well against OSU; they dominated the line of scrimmage and imposed their will, at an embarrassing level.

52… After being so strong on third down during its first several games of the season, the defense faltered against UA, allowing the Wildcats to convert 10 of 19 third-down attempts, a 52 percent clip. The Beavers’ pass rush was nonexistent most of the game.

98… Hate to sound like a broken record, but the Beavers’ struggles passing the ball is so glaring, it can’t be avoided. 12 completions for a mere 98 yards isn’t going to cut it. At this point, it’s safe to say, Jerry Pettibone’s Wishbone offense featured a more effective passing game.

18.7… That’s how many yards the Beavers averaged on kickoff returns, which meant poor field position. In fact, OSU’s return game has been lacking all season, which has put more pressure on the offense to sustain drives. A big return could’ve made a big difference, especially early on.

Blame my negative outlook on my view from the cheap, but close-to-the-action seats. But I think even the most optimistic of Beavers fans would have a hard time denying the fact that the team took a huge step backward against Arizona, on both sides of the ball. It’s a not so subtle reminder that this season is likely to be filled with a lot of downs. At the same time, we wouldn’t be fans if we didn’t overlook that fact at times…

As always, Go Beavs! (RW)

Whoops, our bad.

Sometimes there are games, as readers of my blog have heard me say before, that just need to be flushed.  Sure, there is always something you can learn, but in this week’s case, the problems were the same that we have had all year and unfortunately the solutions are the same.  You can watch all the film you want, but that is not going to build your defensive line depth. You can watch all the film you want but that is not necessarily going to fix the issues in the pass game. The Beavers need more time to recruit to the system they are implementing, so while there will be changes week to week, there is not going to necessarily be a light that goes on and all of the sudden the players are totally different than what we have seen the first six weeks.

That being said, there are some fixable items that can be addressed and at least give OSU a better shot.  There are also some things that seem to be popular complaints that I think were not actually bad, just an unfortunate byproduct of getting “boat-raced” out in the desert.

  1. The Fixable:
    There were a few plays where Arizona felt like they had players parachute into the game. Defensively we can make sure that there is at least someone there.  People want to get on Larry Scott for that big pass play on the first drive, but he was there and he was in great position.  There is nothing anyone could have done with that good of a throw and that huge and fast of a receiver.  This was not a Victor Bolden type body on an under-thrown ball. Larry had great coverage and it was just a great offensive play.  8-10 that coverage wins.No a few minutes later, when Solomon under-threw a ridiculously wide open receiver is something we can fix.  That is just communication and knowing who has what in what formation. In fact, that is a bit of film where you can point it out and the safeties and corners have it the first time.

    Offensively, can we not call screens in our own red-zone?  I have issues with this kind of call in general, which I will get into later, but for this team, and these players, that is not going to work. Of OSU’s only 3 interceptions this year, two of them were on screen plays. Basically, the defense is most likely in some kind of man protection because they are bringing pressure.  The line is trying to hold blocks and then let them go (which can always be dicey) and it usually entails the QB backpedaling a lot and throwing off their back foot over pressure.

    All of those scenarios do not play into out strength and thus have lead to two terrible plays. Against Weber State, it was fine. Against Arizona it was a nail in the coffin.

  2. The Unfixable:
    Let’s be honest, we are not going to all the sudden have Trevone Boykin at QB.  We are not going to be throwing dimes all over the field and start really hurting teams through the air. Unless there is someone better on the bench, we are going to have variations of the passing game we saw on Saturday. Some days we will match up well and get some big plays.  We matched up better against Stanford than we did against Arizona for sure. We may improve a bit over the year, but after six games, no one is just a freshman anymore and no one is going to all the sudden be a Heisman Hopeful. Which is ok.  It doesn’t  make me excited about getting a ton of wins, but it is also the byproduct of massive philosophical shifts in how OSU does everything.We are also not going to be able to get a ton of pressure on the QB.  Maybe against the ducks, but in our remaining games, there are a lot of solid offensive lines out there.  Cal, Utah, UCLA and WSU all have better offensive lines than Arizona does.  That is not going to be something that gets easier. Our defense will need our offense to put pressure on our opponents but that is not going to happen just because who we have are going to get better.  I have heard some people talk negatively about Peko, which I find sad.  Peko has been a man, he just has not had as much support. It is not hard to isolate and deal with one defensive lineman. It is much more difficult if you have two or three that can hurt you. The same Kyle Peko that was tossing Michigan linemen around is still playing, they are just not going at him and they are doubling and tripling him.
  3. The Non-Problems
    I have noticed a lot of people  mentioning that we should have ran more. With Storm Woods averaging 6 yards per carry and Ryan Nall looking like a devastating running back, many were calling for more and more running. As a rushing fan myself, I am always in favor of more of that, but when you are down 27-7 early in the second quarter, all the sudden your options for running are limited.  And really, rushing wasn’t the issue.The first drive they got 9 yards on two passes and one rush. Maybe the first play could have been a run, but 3-6 is a tough down to run on, especially early in the game when the pass is open and the defense is loaded to stop the run.
    The next drive OSU ran twice for 14 yards and passed 3 times for 6. So there is a legit option to run more there, but OSU was down 7-0 and it looked like they needed to turn the tide.  They didn’t and Arizona scored on the next drive making it 10-0. OSU responded with 3 straight runs to Ryan Nall who got 9 yards.  That was what we wanted.  We may gripe about the runs called or whatever, but they were pounding the rock, trying to turn the tide of the game and establish something on offense since passing wasn’t working.  After that 3 and out, Arizona scored another field goal making it 13 – 0

    The ensuing drive OSU got it done. They ran more than they passed (7-5) and drove down for the score to make it 13-7.  Momentum had sifted… for about 30 seconds.  Arizona gets a 70 yard pass. 20-7.  The Beavers get the ball back and get two rushes for about 7 yards, then a 15 yard penalty puts them deep in their own territory.  A bad pass leads to the fated Screen Call and boom, an interception and two yard TD later it is 27-7 and running the ball is out the window.

    We may want more runs, but based on what Arizona was showing and where the game was going, I don’t blame Baldwin and staff for their game calls. At some point you have to be able to make basic throws, make your blocks, hit the hole and be efficient with what is called. Those first three drives, there was nothing called that wasn’t open or able to get yards.  They just didn’t and coaches can call whatever they want, but the players have to make those plays.  I know from discussions within the team that the coaches are VERY conscious of what the players CAN do and what they ARE doing well.  I don’t like the screen calls deep in your own territory not because schematically they are bad, but because this 2015 version of the OSU Beavers struggles with them.

We can be upset, as we should. We can start talking about where blame should go and looking for answers which is totally normal.  But sometimes we need to step back and be honest with what we have.  OSU is not going to be able to pass well. They are going to face defenses that load 8 or 9 in the box and dare us to throw.  We are going to have a hard time running blocking 6 on 8 all game long. Our defense is going to need more production from the offense because they are not going to be able to just stay out there and dial up stops all day long. The defensive line is not going to all the sudden develop more talented depth. OSU has a small window of error moving forward and while there are some winnable games, there are going to be potentially more blow outs like this.  That may not be acceptable to many, but it is reality and until the coaches get a few years of what they want to see from recruiting, from preparation and just time with the offense and defense, reality will sometimes be cruel to us.

We can want the moon, but wanting doesn’t make it ours.

Trench Report: Stanford

WEEK 1:  Weber State
Top Grade Average: 2.95, Isaac Seumalo
Team Grade Average: 3.03

WEEK 2.  Michigan
Top Grade Average: 2.84, Josh Mitchell
Team Grade Average: 2.97

WEEK 3.  San Jose State
Top Grade Average: 2.78, Isaac Seumlo
Team Grade Average: 2.86

WEEK 4.  Stanford
Top Grade Average: 2.89 Isaac Seumlo
Team Grade Average: 2.92

Click here to view the rating system rules.

Week overview:
In recent years, games against Stanford have been tough for the five men up front. Our offensive line has been asked to zone block the best front seven in the conference, and usually with limited success. In the last two years, we have rushed for 17 (2013) and 12 (2014) yards in the whole game against Stanford. Much of the damage was due to 16 sacks in those two games for -111 yards.

Last week, in back and forth battle, against Stanford, the Beavers were able to do something they haven’t done in years: Rush for 100 yards against Stanford.

The Beavers gained 111 rushing yards, and only gave up one sack. Now while Stanford was kind of thin, missing a key starter in Kevin Anderson, it was still the Beavers’ best effort against the Cardinal in a long time. It also was an example of how far they have come this season.

I read a lot of people maligning Oregon State’s offensive line.  While I don’t know everything, I do feel like I have a pretty decent grasp on aspects of offensive line play. One of the big ones is no matter what happens, if a play fails, you will be blamed. Even if all five linemen are blocking great, a tight end could miss his block, a running back could miss his block, a runner could hit the wrong hole or cut into traffic instead of trusting his blockers.

A good example of this would be the second play of the game against Stanford. Below is a link to the play. I have paused it at various points so you can see the progression of the play.

Trench Report: Bad Cut

The first part of the play shows the line locking onto their defenders with Fred Lauina (64) and Josh Mitchell (50) doubling on the defensive tackle in front of them. When Storm Barrs-Woods gets the ball, Mitchell and Lauina are driving their guy toward the sideline and Isaac Seumalo (56) and Dustin Stanton (74) are working on their tackle. So you have four on two at the point of the hand off. You also have Kellen Clute (83) running up to block the inside backer.

Mitchell comes off his double with Lauina and picks up the other backer.  at the point that Barrs-Woods has to decide where to go. All of his blockers have created a lane up the middle, blocking the front five defenders (with Sean Harlow, No. 77, isolating his defender as well).  Unfortunately, Barrs-Woods cuts outside. At this point he is on his own because there is a defensive end in space behind him, and all of the defenders on the right side of the line who are blocking are actually being blocked towards him. There is also a safety or linebacker coming up outside. Because of the drive up the middle and the combo block by Stanton and Seumalo, Storm used their push and his own hard running to get three yards. But had he trusted his blocking, he had five blockers working on five defenders and could have had a much bigger gain.

So you don’t think I am throwing Storm Barrs-Woods under the bus, below is a play where he does the right thing. He cuts back behind the butt of the blocker and gets a big gain:

Trench Report: Good Cut

Trench Report: Good Cut (Second Angle)

If you watch this, he reads the direction of his blocks while Lauina, Mitchell, and Seumalo push their defenders out of the way. While OSU does drive Stanford back a lot this game, the big key to the game is that they push them out of the way, sometimes horizontally, and it opens these lanes in traffic. Once Storm gets free, he carries two Stanford defenders for a few more yards and turns a short yardage play into a double-digit gain.

Both of these plays were blocked very well, the difference was the back trusting his blockers.

What the Heck?
This was a well blocked game. There were struggles in other areas, but players such as Lauina and Harlow really made huge strides. From guard to guard, OSU has been stout for a few weeks, but I felt like this game the tackles took a big step forward.

So with that, my “What the Heck” moment is for the  bane of all offensive linemen’s existence.

Holding.

Late in the game, when OSU was trying to catch up, Seth Collins had an amazing run to put the Beavers in scoring position with a chance to trim the lead to two scores. While still a long shot, the Beavers never quit. Unfortunately, two defenders basically jump on Josh Mitchell and bring him to the ground. This for some unknown reason causes the officials to decide it was holding.  Not only was it not holding, it also had no bearing on the play as Seth was running away at that point and those guys had no chance at catching him.

Fortunately for the Beavers, they got their revenge on the next play, as they repeatedly drove the Stanford defender into the ground.  Unfortunately for the Beavers, that was a bitter sweet victory because they did not score and lost the game. It did make a fun video clip to watch though.

Holding sucks. It is a judgement call by the refs and while it could be called every play, it isn’t.  When it is called, it is usually overturning a great effort by the ball carriers. So boo phantom holds… unless they help the Beavers!

C’mon, you all know I am no objective on these things…

Go Beavs (PRO)