There are a lot of things in life that make me sad. Throwing out food, unwanted pets, political unrest in the world, disco and Beaver losses. This week was a particularly tough outing for the Beavers because of two very distinct reasons:
- It started out promising. At the point of the first interception, OSU was dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and UCLA was struggling to find a rhythm. Even their first scoring drive was a solid defensive stop after a fumble, holding the Bruins to just 33 yards.
- After a second consecutive home game where an ambulance entered the stadium to take one of our corners to the hospital, it was a game filled with strangers
What do I mean by strangers? Well, at the beginning of the year, our starting teams looked like this:
LT 77 Harlow, Sean
LG 64 Lauina, Fred
C 50 Mitchell, Josh
RG 56 Seumalo, Isaac
RT 74 Stanton, Dustin
TE 83 Clute, Kellen
WR 13 Villamin, J.
WR 6 Bolden,Victor
WR 2 Jarmon, Hunter
QB 0D Collins, Seth
TB 24 Woods,Storm
LE 59 Barnett, L.
NT 99 Peko, Kyle
RE 93 Failauga, Titus
STUD 48 James, Jaswha
MIKE 8 Mageo, Rommel
WILL 35 Saulo, Caleb
FLSH 47 Ugwoegbu, B.
LCB 14 Decoud, Treston
SS 17 Noland-Lewis, C
FS 4 Strong, Justin
RCB 15 Scott, Larry
You will notice the names in bold None of those players started this last weekend. While some played, they have all either been injured or been beat out by other players. By the end of the game, the following people are going to miss next week as well:
Ryan Nall (Concussion)
Datrin Guyton (Off the team)
Dwayne Williams (Neck injury)
Additional players that have missed at least one game this year:
David Henry Retired)
Gavin Andrews (Redshirting due to injury)
Dashon Hunt (Retired)
Tim Cook (Redshirting due to injury)
Darryl Songy (off the team)
I may be missing someone else, because the list is long, but basically when you want to talk progress you have to look at what that means for this team. Think about the following:
- The Beavers have only used one QB in 3 games all season. Those three games are spread over two different QB’s
- The Beavers have not started the same set of Corners in any of the last four games.
- The Beavers have played 5 different running backs, 3 different quarterbacks, 7 different offensive linemen, 4 different tight ends, 10 different linebackers and 6 different defensive ends.
It is good to have a healthy rotation on defense, but in many cases, players were played because of necessity. In a trip to Arizona, the Beavers took only 2 defensive tackles with them. They were forced to use a 3-4 defense be cause, well, they only had 2 defensive tackles available.
So what should the progress report be? Were we OK against Utah? Heck yeah! Were we great? No, because greatness is reserved for games you win.
Were we terrible against UCLA? Heck yeah. That was a bad game! Does that game define the progress of our team? No, because there were still players that were working through their first or second start ever. This team has taken its lumps, but progress as a team is the umbrella that covers it. This team is not playing better than it was against Stanford. This team is not playing much worse than it did against Michigan. This team is about the same as it has been all season, so if you want progress on the field, you may need to look elsewhere.
But this team has also played upwards of 60 players this year. 60 different players have seen the field and played meaningful minutes. 60 different players are going to go into the off-season with a keen understanding of what they need to learn and do. That is progress. Not the “we are playing our best ball in November” type of progress, but the “We have 60 players that know what it takes to succeed at this level and know what they need to do to make it happen.” 60 players next year are not going to be intimidated by stadiums, opponents, start times, family attendance, NFL prospects or whatever else is thrown at them because they have battled it all already.
Right now, the team is showing little progress on the field. I would give it a D in terms of playing better ball now than when they took the field against Weber State. But with so many new names, new faces and new numbers out there for the Beavers, they shouldn’t be. In terms of giving players a sense of what is expected, what is acceptable, what is not acceptable and what the standards of the new coaches are, I give them a B. We will see if they can move that D up a bit these last three weeks. Regardless, there are a lot of players in orange and black that know what they need to do to ensure that they never feel like this again. That is progress!
Go Beavs (PRO)