Disclaimer: I only caught the second half of the Utah game. So this is a true by-the-numbers look at this matchup.
After a shaky start against Utah, the Beavers rebounded, held strong, and kept it game until late in the fourth quarter. While the offense made strides, it wasn’t enough to support a pretty stellar effort by the defense. Some within Beaver Nation have suggested that Saturday’s game was a moral victory. Hate to “bah humbug” here, but I don’t subscribe to that; there’s wins or losses. But I will say this, the Beavers took several steps forward that could serve as strong building blocks to brighter 2016 season…
5 Stats I Liked:
0… Turnovers for the Beavers against a Utah defensive that entered the game with 19 takeaways, at the time, the second most in the nation. It’s another sign that Nick Mitchell understands the offense and knows what needs to be done.
19… Pass completions for Mitchell — which is the most by an OSU quarterback in a game this season. Mitchell also threw for 204 yards, the second highest total in a game for the Beavers this season.
6… Tackles for loss for the Beavers. Hats off to the defense which responded well after allowing 14 points in the first quarter. They held the Utes scoreless in the middle two quarters, and an impressive 4-of-11 on third down.
11… Tackles for Jonathan WIllis. Speaking of the defense, leading the way was the sophomore linebacker from Oklahoma, who was making his first career start. And he displayed the talent that made him a big recruit for the Beavers several years ago.
74… That’s how many yards Jordan Villamin rumbled and stumbled toward the end zone about midway through the fourth quarter. The big catch set up a 2-yard touchdown by Victor Bolden several plays later, pulling the Beavers within 24-12.
5 Stats I Didn’t Like:
1-4… Scoring only one touchdown in four red zone trips is never ideal, especially against a defense as strong as Utah’s. Even if OSU one more of those opportunities, it could’ve been an entirely different game.
33… percent conversion rates on third down never cut it, and unfortunately, the Beavers struggled in that area against the Utes. Third down has been an enigma all season long and it showed Saturday.
82… percent was Travis Wilson’s completion percentage against OSU. While he only threw for 198 yards and one TD, he was able to make most of the throws he needed to, and clearly was in a rhythm.
0… Carries for running backs not named Storm Barr-Woods. Coach Andersen explained why Ryan Nall didn’t carry the ball, and I get where he’s coming from. But it’s still weird not to give the ball to a guy coming off a career game, at the very least to keep some momentum going.
10… First downs in the opening quarter for Utah. That’s a pretty remarkable number and explains why the Utes got off to such a fast start. And while the Beaver defense responded in the big way over the 30 minutes, that 14-0 hole was just enough for the Utes…
One last thing, I want to give a huge shout out to the Beavers’ offensive line. They’ve been much maligned by fans and the message boards, but to limit Utah to one sack is damn impressive — and a reflection of the solid job they’ve done this season.
Remember, this season is about making progress and building toward what Andersen and Co. want, and the Utah game had plenty of promising moments that provide hope among the rough goings… Go Beavs! (RW)