Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Official Candy Report: Boise State

Currently, there appears to be two different perceptions of OSU football that on the surface appear to be mutually exclusive, but really are not.  The game against Boise State is, in my mind, the perfect indicator of the reality of OSU Football.

The First Half/This Season
The first half of the game was an unmitigated disaster.  It was marked with horrible blocking, tackling and basically an example of one team pushing another team around in almost every aspect of the game.  Except Special Teams, which I will talk about later. Boise State was able to run at will and pass at will and in most cases, never really felt any kind of struggle put forth by the Beavers.  Oregon State looked like a team that was undermanned and out coached for 2 quarters.

This team might have to deal with that again, every game, the rest of the season. Perennial door mats like Colorado are showing that they are much improved.  Team that looked like they might be in rebuild mode like Cal are showing they are far tougher than they were given credit. At least on offense.  Most of the conference has an identity of who they are now.  At least the teams outside the state of Oregon.

When the final snap of the first half ended, i saw no reason to hope that OSU would win again this year. I am not trying to be negative, but I am trying to be realistic as I have been the last year or two. When people talk about a rebuild they give it lip service.  I think most people talk rebuilds but just assume that it is like rebuilding a fence where you can see progress board by board as the season goes on until at the end you are amazing. That 18 months should be long enough to see more improvement, or at least steady gains.  Others will look at 18 months and say “18 months is nothing, it took Colorado 4 years to make noise under McIntyre!”.

I don’t think that football works that way.  Bring on the second half.

The Second Half/The Future
What changed?  What flip was switched? Did we call better plays or just execute the plays we called better?  Did the line start blocking better or did we just call plays that minimized their impact?  Did our defense all the sudden become stout or did BSU let off the gas a bit?  Probably all of the above.  We replaced a QB  with another one and we saw some good and some bad, but what happened was players started making some plays, coaches started calling plays that highlighted these guys that were making plays, the staff found new trust in a new arm to make the plays and Boise State played like a team that was up by 24 points at half and had a 400 yard advantage in yards.

We saw Blount, Collins, Bolden, Jr., Ugwoebgu, Decoud and many more step up their games and make plays, we saw the defense call more aggressive blitzes, we saw our QB complete some passes and our receivers make some amazing catches. Same team’s, same coaches, same game even, different results.  That is the future.  It is not always incremental in nature.  OSU will fit the vision of this staff when they have coaches calling plays that work because players can make those plays.  That could be next game, next year or three years from now.  You can make some predictions based on recruiting as to when OSU will be in the best position to make these gains, but ultimately it will happen when coaches call plays and players execute them. Victor Bolden, Jr.  has answered the call, so has Seth Collins and Treston Decoud. We have legit players on the team right now that are showing what they can do.

But much like this game, some of our future is not just about us.  That is a popular sentiment, but if it was just about us Coach Anderson wouldn’t care about BSU or Ohio State being on our schedule.  What we are seeing is a team that is, by choice, rebuilding to the highest degree and that means we have no guarantees so we need to schedule recruiting wins because the teams around us are not getting worse.  Except for the ducks. We need to recruit and develop and coach better than all of our opponents.  People may point to Gary Andersen’s past and say he can do that here, but lets look at his time here.  What he has been doing hasn’t worked yet.  Every year the magic he had at Utah State and the great management of an already good team he did in Wisconsin is getting in the rear view mirror.

We don’t know when or if the switch will turn on like the second half of the BSU game.  Will it be in Colorado on Saturday?  Will it be against the ducks in the Civil War (I hope so!) or will it be two years from now when the first full class under Andersen is at its statistical peak?  We don’t know and we may never know.  The comparison to Colorado is not a good one because they didn’t just flip a switch this year. Last year they had injuries decimate their team and played with a few players that had no business being on the field because of injuries. The step this year from last year was not a huge one, but it started with that first class of McIntyre’s getting time to build up.

So lets not be shocked that people are critical of the program.  It hasn’t done well. Lets not be shocked that even in being critical there is a lot of hope in a coaching staff that has proven they can win in other places. Those are not mutually exclusive concepts. Lets also not be overly critical of the people that don’t see a Rose-y future for this program because there are not a lot of positives to pull right now from Andersen’s work here.

Ultimately, just like this last game, we have not seen Andersen’s best foot forward, but we have seen some glimmers here and there that point to something happening.  This year could end up 1-11, we are not guaranteed anything. It could also turn into a 5 win season. Who knows?  But we are not going to get a stair step improvement, at least not likely to. Most likely we are going to see a big jump and then a bigger jump after that if that class stays in tact. So we need to be prepared for that.  I never saw the second half of the BSU game coming from that team.  I don’t think I can accurately predict the next two seasons either.

THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROP AWARD OF AMAZINGNESS:
I don’t like to do repeat weeks for awards, but this week I have to go with Victor Bolden, Jr once again.  I have a pretty hard and fast rule that anyone who is a part of a play over 90 yards makes the cut.  Anyone that is responsible for for 160 yards or more in special teams is also considered a big winner.  Mostly, I just feel like Victor has been the player that best exemplifies the vision of what this program wants to be the most.  He is playing at a high level, making the most of his opportunities and starting to show the confidence to score at any time on any place on the field.  Any play that doesn’t at least give a nod to Victor in some way feels like a waste. There are other players out there that are playing well, but Victor is special and for the first time in his career, i feel like he has the confidence to match his results with his potential.

If he wins it next week, it will be because he elevated his game to a whole new level, but when he is directly or indirectly responsible for over half our points, I have to give him props!

JUJIFRUIT AWARD OF PROGRESS:
I have really been impressed with the progress of Seth Collins. Before this blog becomes a wide receiver love fest, I think that we need to point out progress where it lies. I would like to see him be more consistent on his blocking, but that huge catch in the second half was a thing of beauty. He caught it at its peak while falling down and honestly, was covered very well. Had that ball been an inch lower or had his jump been a little late, it would have probably been intercepted or dropped. Instead it was a huge play to keep building confidence in their young first time starter at QB.

He has been catching everything thrown his way and has really been one of the few consistent contributors on offense. So this week I give Seth an award for improvement because he definitely has taken to his new role and improved each and every week.

GOOD N PLENTY AWARD OF SHAME:
After last week’s great perfect weekend, this week had a lot to live up to.  Unfortunately, there was one really glaring hole in the world of College Football this week, and that is duck fans.  Living in Eugene, I have had the privilege of meeting some very cool and classy duck fans and members of the duck athletic department.  I also have had the miss fortune of meeting everyone else.  What is happening at oregon is something that can seep over to other programs and is killing the sport a bit.

And it is lack of context.

I have been getting backlash for predicting the demise of the ducks the last two years.  While I have been fairly clear that I think they have the talent to win 7 games every year, I have seen the signs of rebuilding for a few years now.  I believe a certain visor wearing ex-coach saw this as well and couldn’t wait to leave, with NCAA sanctions in tow. Imagine last year’s team without Vernon Adams.  That team loses to ASU, Cal, USC and probably to us.  And it then robs us of watching the amazing Alamo Bowl.  This year, we are seeing more patch work trying to hide the reality.

The ducks are rebuilding and they have been since 2013.  The problem is that with the success and marketing around the program, they attracted a lot of talented players, but not all of them fit the mold of what they wanted. In an era aided by USC sanctions and terrible coaching in the conference (Wulff, Willingham, Neuheisel, Stoops, etc…) the best show in town was the ducks and they took full advantage of it.  But along the way they cut corners in recruiting and masked deficiencies with a trendy offense.  As the USC came off sanctions and other teams upgraded their own coaching situations, the ducks found that they not only had to cut ties with some talented players who had the Lyles taint to them, but they also lost some players who came there looking to start and found a poor fit.  So from 2012 – 2015, they basically lost a good chunk of their talent through attrition, graduation, early declaring and injury.  Last year they had two one and done transfer in Adams and their center. This slightly covered up the fact that they only had 7 offensive linemen recruited in the previous four years and a few of them moved to defense.

So this has been coming. Marcus Mariotta extended their reign at the top a bit because he was so dang good, but this duck team, and much of last season, is not a surprise to me. Nor is it I would imagine for the duck coaches.  You can tell by their recruiting (Helfritch’s first full year recruiting drew 5 offensive linemen alone.)  The problem is the duck machine, the marketing out of Nike and the whole culture here in Eugene cannot handle that. They cannot be told that they need to reset a bit and to be patient.  They are too busy making a spectacle of themselves.  Note how Brady Hoke quickly backpedaled on his assessment of the defense after their final scrimmage, only to now look like he was lying based on how they are playing. He was right in what the said and saw in the scrimmage, but the duck machine couldn’t allow that.   Or how new sports reporters finding their way on local TV shows that say the ducks might not win another home game are met with shocked and appalled expressions by their co-hosts.

I don’t know how this season will turn out for them, but right now it looks bad. And had Oregon allowed itself to be more than a marketing slogan, they would have been prepared. Now they are in a place where they may fire good coaches, who are doing exactly what they have done for a decade, because the perception is wrong.  The narrative is false and the duck media is lying.

Jerks.

 

 

 

Cal Contest To Be A 6 PM Start

TV schedules for college football for the 2nd weekend in October have been set, and Oregon State’s home game against California will be a 6 PM+ start. The odd start time is a product of the game being on the Pac-12 Network, which excels in not aligning with any of the other networks.

The game will match an Oregon State team returning from a game at Colorado this week, and a California team coming off hosting Utah, games in which both the Beavers and Bears will be underdogs in, so its likely the game to avoid the Pac-12 Northern Division cellar will be a try to get well game for both the Bear Raid and the Beavs.

The contest will also feature a celebration performance by the Oregon State University Marching Band of their 125th anniversary.

Boise State Beats Oregon State As Expected, But Not As Expected

Broncos Win Game, Beavers Find QB. Or Not.

Boise State beat Oregon State 38-24 Saturday afternoon for the Broncos first ever win in Corvallis, which was as expected. And the margin was almost exactly as expected, by 2 touchdowns.

How it happened did not go exactly as expected, however, which made for an interesting afternoon for the 42,846 fans (almost a quarter of which were Bronco fans) on hand on a classically beautiful, football perfect day at Reser.

The Broncos drove the length of the field for the game’s first score, which was not unexpected, and it wasn’t much of a surprise when the Beavers capitalized on a good kickoff return by Victor Bolden to convert the resulting short field into a tieing score.

But after that fast start, Boise State went on a tear, and a half that rivaled one of the worst Oregon State has ever played, and one of the best an opponent could hope for.

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Final Thoughts On The Visit By The Broncos

“Don’t Get Trampled!”

The first final thought this week was the same one I had as last week’s 37-7 win over Idaho State was winding down; don’t get trampled by the Broncos!

That was a product of both having seen Oregon State make a lot of mistakes in the process of their win over an over-matched Bengal team from the bottom of the Big Sky Conference, and having seen Boise State beat Washington State the week before. Especially after glancing at the Reser Stadium scoreboard when the Cougars’ 56-6 final score over Idaho, a team that’s still better than Idaho State by a level and 20+ scholarship players, the Vandals descending into the Big Sky in 2 years not withstanding.

The opening line that makes the Beavers a 13.5 point home dog that appeared early this week did nothing to change that either.

And then Coach Andersen proceeded to provide Boise State some bulletin board material, saying he would prefer to see the relationship and rivalry with the Broncos not be continued!

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What does this game mean?

For many in Beaver Nation, the memories of games against Boise State range from excitement of a nail biter in Reser in 2005, a blow out in Idaho the next year or redemption for 2 straight series losses in 2013’s Hawai’i Bowl game. While there have been a lot of changes in coaching and culture for both teams starting with that 2013 game, this year’s game is actually extremely important for both teams.

For the Broncos, their Fiesta Bowl win two years ago is feeling farther and farther away after two tough home losses last year and a feeling that Boise State is not trending up but rather down.  A win over WSU earlier this year was a big deal for Boise State, but a loss to Oregon State would be a huge blow to this team and their post season plans.  Non “Power 5” conference teams tend to have a lot of issues building a quality resume for post season play if they have losses to actual “Power 5” conference teams.  Especially ones that are not viewed as elite like the Beavers and the Cougars.

You also have to factor in the memory of last year’s Utah State game.  Coach Clune was on the sidelines for Utah State as they rode 7 first half turnovers to route the Broncos in Boise. Just like the Minnesota coaches remembered their times playing against Coach Andersen when he was in Wisconsin, I am sure many on this offense remember being taken apart by Clune’s USU defense. They will be ready!

For the Beavers, every win is as precious as gold to them.  Currently at 1-1, the Beavers need this win not only to guarantee that they finish as well or better than last year, but also to get a quality win over a quality opponent.  Boise State has a great offense and great defense that will play tough and get after the Beavers.  A win here would do wonders for the psyche of the team but also help them prepare for what looks like a very tough trip to Colorado the following week.

More importantly, a win this week gives them a streak and adds strength behinds the words of the coaching staff. It would quite the grumbling of the fans for a week and would send a message that respecting the process needs to happen when things are tough as well as when they go well.  I have turned my picks in for BeaverBlitz.com and they are not flattering.  I need to be wrong on this. I need to be underestimating this team.  I have no qualms eating crow in this case, and for Oregon State to win they will need to show that they can be consistent passing and running the ball.  They will need to show that they can stop the run and defend the pass.  They will need to turn those Run/Pass option plays into winners bay making the three options on those plays effective and by forcing the defense to choose the bigger threat. They need to show they can get pressure on a passer and make big plays on defense against better competition than Idaho State.

Ultimately, the Beavers need this win because 1-2 going into conference play in the strongest division of the Pac12 leaves wins off the table and forces the Beavers to do something they haven’t done in 20 conference games.  Win.

This is the most important game of the season and it is not even close.  At least until next week when the trip to Boulder will be the new most important game of the season.

GO BEAVS (PRO)

Burpees Beat Cancer - Michael Aliotti

Burpees Beat Cancer

A good friend of mine with a familiar last name, Michael Aliotti, is trying to set the record for burpees in a 12 hour period.  The record is 6,800 and he is on pace to break that by about 400. Despite his family ties to the ducks, Michael is an amazing man and a great friend and his quest for the record is also a quest to help fund Cancer Research. As someone that has seen cancer ravage members of his his own family, I jumped at the chance to help out Michael in this endeavor.

His attempt to reach today the record is live here:

https://renafitness.com/

And his website for donations is here:

https://www.burpeesbeatcancer.com/

Anyway, for those of you that have done many burpees, you can probably understand that 7,200 in a day is a big deal.  Thanks in advance for not punching me in the face when you see me for having a good friend who is also a duck coach legacy.

Todd Stansbury Takes Off

Just as the Oregon State campus and community was getting settled in after the first day of fall term, Athletic Director Todd Stansbury shook things up by announcing his resignation.

Stansbury’s decision came as a sizable surprise, coming only a little more than a year after he took the job. Stansbury, pictured above with Oregon State University President Ed Ray at his introduction as Athletic Director, replaced Bob Decarolis, returning to Corvallis where he had previously worked for 9 years in the Athletic Department.

Stansbury’s abrupt and early departure isn’t a product of any problems at Oregon State though; Stansbury’s reason for leaving is to take the newly opened Athletic Director position at Georgia Tech, which is Stansbury’s alma mater. Stansbury also played football for the Yellow Jackets.

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The Official Candy Report: Idaho State

Sometimes the first thing you need to do after a game is sit back and take stock of what really happened.  Here is what happened:

OSU beat someone by 30 points.

Not only did they get a win, but it was their first win in a year.  We can get into a semantics argument about a few days here and there, but it has been a long 300+ days and as someone that sat through 19 of the 28 years of losing (with 5 more that happened while I was alive but too young to know much about) I know the power of a single win.

For many that read this, they may think my reference to the futility streak to be in poor taste. I mean we won 9 games and went to the Alamo bowl just three plus years ago.  But lets let that sink in.  The players we recruited following that game are now Juniors and Seniors and are on their way out of the program. That blip on the radar of a steady slide is getting farther and farther in the rear view mirror.

So am I saying this is what we have to look forward to?  Are w in year three of 25 years of suck?  No.  Hell no!  But we need to understand that it takes 3 years for your average recruiting class to really hit its stride.  Last years class had some great pieces, but by the time the High School ones hit their stride, the JC ones will be gone.  We are looking at a huge rebuild and that was obvious on Saturday. I do not say this to minimize the great effort of the players we are cheering for. I also don’t say that as some sort of “diss” on our coaching staff.  I say that so that we can frame what is going on appropriately.  The coaches and players will think what I have to say is garbage, but they have the direct impact on the program.  Fans are indirect.  We cannot block, tackle, pass, catch or call plays. We cannot recruit or run an off season wight program.  And we shouldn’t.  We are not good at those things and that would be horrendous!

The point is, as fans, we cannot see a win against a terrible team, one that had warts and worries, and think that this is all there is. We have to find a way to frame this season as it really is. The second year of a Gilligan’s Island type mission.  We as fans want 3 hours, but we might have to think more about 3 years. And if we get too critical now, we stand the chance of missing some really inspiring work being done on the field.  We might miss the huge games by Victor Bolden Jr, who has heard the whispers and jeers and yet keeps working his butt off and really showed it against the Bengals. You would miss the efforts of Brandon Arnold, Gavin Andrews, Treston Decoud, Ricky Ortiz or Manase Hungalu as they work tirelessly to leave their mark on a program they love.

We also miss the work being done by our coaches to bring the best talent in they can, to turn around the culture and vision of these players and establish a view of victory in Corvallis.  It is not easy to sell the future, and it gets harder every year.  The reality is these coaches are going to need our patience to get their players in without sacrificing the seasons of the players working their butts off for them now.

So enjoy the win, it has been a while.  Let the nit-picking and gnashing of teeth rest for a week and just be happy for the guys that worked so hard this winter, spring, summer and fall camp.  Give mental high fives to the guys that struggled through the heat of the Bend camp and for the leaders of this team that have to pick them up every week and keep them focused.

In short, be a fan that will allow the future to be made. I have my worries, I have my doubts. I think they are legitimate and time will tell if I am correct or not.  But I also used to be a player once upon a time, and sometimes it is nice, in the grind of a season, to not be told you should have done better when you scored five times as many points as your opponent  Sometimes it is nice to just enjoy a win and see if it can lead to more next week.

The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Excellence:
I feel like it is tough for a senior that has worked hard and given so much to a program to come out in their first game and have a bit of a rough go.  Victor Bolden Jr. had a few rough plays against Minnesota in the opening week loss.  I also have a lot of respect for players that take ownership of that performance and come out and play lights out ball the next week.  Victor did this.  You can say what you want about the competition, but Victor caught tough passes, made great runs and was a solid blocker and route runner all game.  He elevated his game in tangible ways and showed that he is that weapon that OSU has been looking for.  Victor has been one of my favorite players since his first days here and has worked hard to live up to his potential.  I left the ISU game thinking that Victor Bolden was a high level Pac-12 player and that was good to see.

The Jujifruit Award of Improved Play:
Some players really stand out. You could go with Treston Decoud or Ricky Ortiz (especially in his blocking) or any number of players.  But one guy that seemed to be everywhere and whose name was in so many plays was Brandon Arnold.  The Junior Safety was such a force, getting multiple pass defenses, an interception and a stack of tackles.  Arnold also is one of those guys that felt like an after thought when Mike Riley and staff left.  He had a lot of work to do and has been putting in the time in the weight room and film room to be ready to contribute this year.  Against ISU he was all over the place and really showed that he has not only bought into what OSU is trying to do but understands his role.  Great work Brandon!

Good N’ Plenty Award of Shame:
I never thought I would do this, but this weekend was just about perfect.  Beaver win?  Check. duck loss?  Check.  No real ref issues?  Check. I had the great opportunity to watch the game in my company’s (www.cbtnuggets.com) suite for the game.  The suites at Reser are easily comparable to the ones in Autzen and I love the community feel by having the meals out in the common area. I had such a good time watching the game with my wife, her cousin, his daughter and the company owners and some co-workers that it was just a great day.  I rarely have a weekend like that.  For me, and I am sure for some of you, seeing Mike Riley get a win over the ducks was also pretty fun.  Seeing the Pac-12 scare some top teams was a nice touch as well.  Thanks Colorado!

So College Football, you get a break this week. I am sure something happened somewhere that was super sucky, but in my small world, it was the perfect weekend.

 

Go Beavs! (PRO)

Ethan Thompson Chooses Oregon State

Wayne Tinkle Continues Family Connection Recruiting

Oregon State men’s basketball coach Wayne Tinkle has made good use of family ties in recruiting top talent to Corvallis, and that trend continues, with the announcement today by Ethan Thompson that he will be following his older brother Stephen Thompson Jr. to Corvallis.

The Thompson brothers father, of course, is Stephen Thompson Sr., who is on Tinkle’s staff.

E. Thompson is a 6’4″, 170 lb. shooting guard from Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, CA, and is rated a 4 star prospect by Rivals, ESPN, and Scout. Rivals has him as the #49 prospect overall in the 2017 class, while ESPN slots him at #51, and Scout at #53.

He picked Oregon State, the Corvallis community, and playing with his brother and for his father over offers from Stanford and Syracuse, the elder Thompson’s alma mater, as well as California, Arizona, and Boise State.

“I think it should help a lot to have both of them there,” Thompson said about his father and brother. “My dad has seen lots of players go through the transition to college, and my brother just went through it. They will both be able to guide me, and it will be great to be together again.”

Thompson should pack on a few more pounds by the time he’s ready to take the Gill Coliseum floor, and is virtually a carbon copy oh his 6’4″, 175 lb. brother.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

Colorado Contest Another Day Game; Decoud Pac-12 Defensive Player of Week

The Pac-12, and especially Stanford and Utah, continue to have an exposure problem during daylight hours nation-wide, but lately its not an issue for Oregon State. For a time, the Beavers and their fans were as badly victimized by #Pac12[Long}AfterDark, which is becoming #Pac12[Just]BeforeDawn with California, as anyone. But everything in life and college football is cyclical, and with announcement of kickoff time in Boulder on Oct. 1, Oregon State will play 3 consecutive day games.

The Beavers and Buffs will kick off shortly after 12:30 PM MDT in Boulder, which is 11:30 AM PDT. With last Saturday’s home season opener having been a 2 PM tv slot locally, and a 12:30 tv window for this coming Saturday’s game against Boise State, it will be the first time since a series of games that spanned from November 2011 through September 2012 that the Beavers will play 3 games in a row with day time starts. It hasn’t happened on 3 consecutive Saturdays since in 2011.

The Pac-12 Network will have the coverage from Colorado. The “left overs” network could get a good contest that ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports both passed on, as the Buffs and Beavers have played very close games the last 2 years, with both prevailing in the other team’s stadium.

Decoud Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week

In other Monday news from the conference offices, Oregon State cornerback Treston Decoud has been named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. Decoud had 2 interceptions against Idaho State in the Beavers’ 37-7 win over the Bengals, one a pick-6 that was the longest one by an OSU player since 2000.

Decoud also had 2 other pass breakups, and 4 tackles, in addition to his first 2 FBS-level interceptions.

Togiai Out Against Boise State

Oregon State TE Noah Togiai will miss the Broncos game. Togiai’s knee was injured on the opening kickoff of Saturday’s game, on a block resulting in a penalty against Idaho State. Togiai played only 2 snaps before being pulled from the game by the training staff, and was on crutches by the end of the first quarter.

Togiai’s knee was evaluated more closely today, after which he was ruled out for this week.

Linebacker and special teams player Landry Payne has also been ruled out for this week’s game, also with a knee problem.

Neither player was ruled out longer term though, and so relatively near-term recovery and return is a hope for both, vs. being out for the season. Togiai still being on crutches today makes it likely this is not a 1 week issue, though.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com