Monthly Archives: October 2016

Beavers Coug It. Again.

Oregon State played their best half of football of the season Saturday afternoon, and probably their best first half of the Gary Andersen era, taking a 24-6 lead over Washington State, much to the delight of the Homecoming crowd that was on hand to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 1941 team that won the 1942 Rose Bowl (in Durham, NC), for the Beavers’ only Rose Bowl Trophy.

1942 Rose Bowl Trophy

But just as happened 2 years ago, it was the Cougars who clawed out a 4th quarter comeback win at Reser, this time a 35-31 win.

The fast start was a product of the return to action of both RB Ryan Nall and WR Victor Bolden, as well as quarterback Marcus McMaryion playing his best 30 minutes of ball as well.

Ryan Nall

Nall busted off the 3rd longest run from scrimmage in Oregon State history, above, for an 89 yard touchdown on the 2nd play of the Beavers’ second series, and added a 19 yard touchdown catch and run from McMaryion later in the period for a 14-0 Beaver lead after 1 quarter.

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Final Thoughts On Couging It, Or Not

The last couple of years, it the Beavers who have Cuoged it, blowing a 4th quarter lead 2 years ago when the Cougars last visited Reser, and then getting run off the field in the first half of last season’s blowout loss in the Palouse.

And this year, Oregon State is catching Washington State at the worst possible time, after the start of the season, when Mike Leach’s Cougar teams are never prepared and start off struggling, but also after they have gotten on track, and before Luke Falk, or whomever else was the Cougar quarterback (it was Connor Halliday who got a broken leg and gave way just in time for then freshman Falk to lead WSU to the come from behind 39-32 win in his first start, the only win for the Cougs down the stretch in 2014), inevitably gets hurt.

Indeed, if Oregon State can hold Falk, above, to 400 yards passing, it will be their best job of controlling him yet.

Further, the Beavs are beat up defensively themselves, with CBs Dwayne Williams and LB Titus Failaugua out, and CB Jay Irvine now officially out for the year with his shoulder injury. Also of concern is CB Treston Decoud, arguably the Beavers’ best defensive player, being listed as questionable this week.

But Oregon State should get RB Artavis Pierce back, though Ryan Nall is questionable. QB Conor Blount is available to backup Marcus McMaryion, which means Mason Moran’s redshirt should stay intact for another week.

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Men of Roses To Be Honored

Oregon State will be honoring the “Men of Roses” 1942 Rose Bowl team during tomorrow’s Homecoming game against Washington State.

The 1941 team that won the Rose Bowl in 1942 over Duke, is the only Oregon State team to ever win the Rose Bowl, in the only Rose Bowl not played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, as the game was moved to Durham, NC, to avoid concerns about the event possibly being the target of a Japanese attack, given the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the US’s entry into World War II, less than a month before.

The Beavers will wear a special battleship gray helmet, above, with specific references to “1942” and the “Rose Bowl”, as well as a commemorative patch on their jerseys.

The Oregon State University Marching Band will have a 1940’s themed half time show as well.

Beaver Walk is at 5:30, and kickoff against the Cougars is at 7:52 PM, on ESPN2 (broadcast starts at 7:45).

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

The Official Candy Report: Washington

Sometimes, when you start a trip, say to Mexico, you prepare by getting your flights, packing your bags, making sure any details like paper delivery and pet feeding are taken care of and that you have your passport.  The whole time you are prepping this, you tend to have a vision. The vision is the result of all the prep, and that is the place you are going.  Whether it is a resort in Puerto Vallarta or a Pac12 title, the process is the same.  You have a vision of where you want to be that you keep as you tweak and adjust your program to get there.

Washington is that vision.  A fast, aggressive and talented team that plays disciplined and impressive football. Oregon State is in the packing and planning phases of this trip, but they are making strides.  Whereas last year they were still booking their trip and looking at flights, now we are in the meat of the rebuild.  The part where you are taking care of the details, trying to improve your pass rush or get the right personnel on your offense to get the most of it’s nuance is what OSU is in right now.

In looking at the game, you can see a few scenarios that show the tightening needed.  In the first drive of the game for the Beavers, nothing worked.  They were adjusting to the speed and the talent of their opponent. 3 and out, with some really poor execution across the board.  Then in the second drive, while it started out shaky, Marcus McMariyon hit on a few big passes to drive down near the red-zone. Going 5-5 for 50 yards, Marcus guided the team down the field and culminated with an 8 yard Tim Clark run that left the Beavers with a 3rd down and 2 yards to go at the UW 21.  At 14-0, the Beavers could cut the lead to one score or at least get on the board.

Then, they run two plays in a row that have Seth Collins making a throw and in WildCat formation.

This is not a burn on Seth who has done great things this year but kind of a weird call by the coaches. Even if the plays were scripted, they took the ball out of the hot hand (McMariyon) and put them into someone who has thrown two passes all year (both way out of bounds) and who has a 1.9 yard average on 13 carries this year.  That was not the date you took to all the way down field to the 21, so why the switch?  Unfortunately, both plays failed and the Beavers chose to go for it on 4th down.  Rather than use Tim Cook, their monster bicep-ed power runner who had just gauged the Huskies up the middle for 8 yards, they instead called a play for Paul Lucas, the speedy running back/receiver hybrid on an outside play.  Unfortunately for the Beavers, the Husky defender was just as fast and aggressive and pushed Lucas out for no gain.

This felt like a theme on offense.  As the defense got acclimated to what the Huskies were trying to do, the Beaver offense felt like it couldn’t get out of its own way.  The very next drive, while getting 14 yards on 3 Tim Cook carries, they then passed on (on 2nd and 6, which of course we always pass on) and then ended up with a 3rd and 6 which also fell incomplete after a pass break up by the Huskies.

Of course the next two drives the Beavers went for runs on 2nd and long and got 5 yards each time, giving them much more manageable 3rd downs.  They converted one but got cute on the other and didn’t get the 2 yards needed for a first down.

My point is that I think the Beavers are close to being a good team.  Not Elite like UW, but good. Right now the issue with the Beavers is that while they have a pretty great offensive system, capable of huge plays at any time, and a decent offensive line that is working their butts off to make plays, their play calling can be head scratching.  I am not an Offensive Coordinator and I don’t know all they are doing or trying to do.  I could be way off base, and part of play calls is execution, which is out of the coaches hands.  But another part is putting them in position to win. When the Huskies knew the play, it never worked. When they could pin their ears back and run to the ball, it was really difficult for the Beavers.  So for Oregon State, they need to be able to keep teams guessing, keep them horizontal and not vertical.

I felt like that was missing in this game. I am proud of the effort and proud of the progress, but I can see huge leaps this year, with 4-5 winnable games left, every little bit will help.  Sticking with what is working is good. But maybe I am over simplifying it. Maybe, just maybe I should trust them. After all, this year is turning out exactly as I predicted so far, and they are making the gains we all wanted to see.

Maybe I should respect the process a little more.

THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROP AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
A repeat performer, but I cannot give this award to anyone but Victor Bolden Jr.  He has been one of the MVP’s of this season for the Beavers and he has really elevated his game to be a legitimate Pac12 star.  When Victor was recruited, may called him the next Brandin Cooks. Which was unfair to him.  What we are seeing now is how his hard work has led to a closer comparison to Mr. Cooks. Victor demands attention on every play and is the name that opposing teams are conscious of when they play the Beavers.  His performance against the Huskies was one of the bright spots of the game and had the big play of the game for the Beavers.

JUJIFRUIT AWARD OF IMPROVEMENT
I don’t want to minimize the work of the defense by giving all these awards to the offense. The defense led by Caleb Saulo really did a good job against one of the best offenses in the country. That being said, Tim Cook really needs a shout out. Not only was he a 100 yard rusher against a team that averaged giving up less than 140 yards on the ground per game, but he did so in his first major action of the season.  Despite a few big plays and catches for the Beavers sprinkled throughout the year, Tim has been largely behind Ryan Nall, Art Pierce and Paul Lucas.  But Cook took advantage of his chance to play and ripped off over 5 rushes of 10 yards or more and did a great job in blocking the Huskies.

Great work Tim and this award is well deserved.

THE GOOD ‘N PLENTY AWARD OF SHAME
This award goes to everyone involved in the Friday night abomination between the ducks and Cal. First, the Pac-12 is punching their own nuts putting two weekly game extenders with their quick hit/long night offenses and almost non-existent defenses.  Watching those is like watching a home run derby and thinking that it is a real baseball game.  Bad calls and terrible decisions aside, this game had 0 chance of being under 4 hours. So when do you want to put that game? Well the Pac12 thought that putting that on a 10:30pm Eastern would be a great way to have people talking about how great the game was the next day. Because the game probably would just be getting over in time for Dan Patrick to report on the full overtime live.

For some reason, the Pac-12 is fine with picking non-football type football games with two hot seat coaches with questionable game time decisions to be played when they are the only game on Nationally.  You know, to represent the conference.   That game was the worst. Neither team deserved to win, yet one had to because one team tried losing harder.  Way to go Pac12 and Cal and the ducks.  Way to make football something that I feel I will skip the next time those teams play because I do like football and that, my friends, was not football.

Washington Upends Oregon State

Huskies Bring Beavers Back To Earth

After beating California and coming close against Utah the last 2 weeks, Oregon State was brought back down to earth by Washington Saturday afternoon, as the 5th ranked (and moving up) Huskies hammered the Beavers 41-17. It wasn’t that close.

In what is becoming an annual event, Oregon State went into the Washington game unprepared, either in terms of having a cohesive game plan, or any idea of what to do about what they were about to be faced with. Outcoached and outplayed, the Beavers were quickly blown out again.

Washington scored twice in less than 5 minutes, pushed the lead to 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, and 31-0 at halftime. Similar to the Boise State game, Oregon State rallied against an opponent who had taken their foot off the accelerator, and played Washington even in the 3rd quarter, when both teams posted 10 points, and even added a meaningless late touchdown, to lose by only 4 scores.

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Final Thoughts On Facing The Return Of The Purple Reign

Oregon State starts the back to back games against the Washington teams this afternoon in Seattle, taking on the unbeaten and 5th ranked Huskies. With the Cougs coming on strong, this game and next Saturday night’s against Washington State, in the only home game in the next 4, could be the toughest stretch of the season, eclipsing even the back to back against Boise St. and Colorado (and that went oh so well!).

Given the Beavers are going with their third string quarterback in Marcus McMaryion, and with Ryan Nall hobbling, this is a more daunting combination than the Broncos and Buffs were, on balance.

But its where we will find out if there is enough left in the Beavers’ tank to still be in the hunt for some more wins in the suddenly softer November run, against a Stanford team that struggles offensively as much as Oregon State, a UCLA team that seems to be playing to get their coach fired, an Arizona team that has about run out of players, and an Oregon team that has no defense.

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The Official Candy Report: Utah

When I sat down to make my predictions for the season, I had Oregon State winning 3 games. ISU, Cal and Oregon.  My goals for the season were to see progress, to see improved play and to see the Beavers be competitive. I figured that would come by an improved offense and a slightly better defense.  After the first six games of this season, the Beavers are 2-4 and won the games I thought they would. How they won is a different story.

I have been very impressed with the way the defense has played.  We are still not able to stop the run, but passing yards have come scarce and at a cost against the Beavers.  The play of the secondary has been fantastic and the linebackers seem to get better every week.  Now Utah is not an offensive juggernaut, and the weather was not ideal for passing the ball, but the physical play of the Beaver secondary has really done a lot to shake up opposing offenses.

The problem is, that OSU’s offense is not really very good. You can point to moments here and there, but for the most part, the Beaver offense has not done much all season. Last season, the Beavers ranked last in the Pac-12 in scoring offense at 19 points per game.  We have improved on that this year, but by only 6 points.  At 25 points per game, we have the second worse offense in the conference (ahead of Stanford). We are averaging 14 yards more per game as well (350 ypg in 2016 vs 336 ypg in 2015).  That was obvious in this game where the Beavers had only 1 passing yard into the 4th quarter, and finished the game with under 300 yards of total offense. While Marcus McMariyon provided a huge spark in the air (throwing in 9 passes for more than any other passer all game combined) we still saw the same effect that the BSU game had.  A good drive by  new arm followed by not much as they adjusted. I hope that Marcus provides a huge spark to the passing game, but I also know that if the coaches should be trusted to evaluate talent, that there is no way they have their best passer sitting on the bench.  Something will have to give.

Which brings me to my point in this recap of the game.  Bot teams played in terrible weather, both teams had terrible mistakes (interceptions, fumbled snaps, overthrows, missed blocks, bad play calls, etc.) but with as vanilla as the Utah offense is, they were able to move the ball consistently. They also realized that passing wasn’t going to be a good deal for them on Saturday, so they looked to the run game.  They only threw 4 passes in their last five drives, and missed it on short run plays three times.  That is a testament to not just our defense for turning them away, but for Utah’s understanding of what gave them the best chance to win. They had the lead and they needed to burn clock.

Our coaches continues to throw, even in a game that was under 2 scores difference at any point in the game.  Our second drive of the game we got 34 yards on two rushes and then passed twice and killed the drive. Our third drive we got 4 yards on our first run, and then passed twice and threw a pick. Our fourth drive we ran for 28 yards in our first two plays and then passed twice to end the drive.  Worse yet, had we ran even one of those we would have gone into the second quarter before having to snap for a punt (assuming we don’t get a first down running) and hopefully avoid the safety off of the bad punt snap.

Not only that, but we are becoming obvious.  We passed on every single 2nd down of longer than 4 yards except one.  That is a pretty predictable pattern.  It was like clockwork, and the only time we didn’t was when we passed on first down and got an incomplete pass in the first quarter.

At this point, I feel like we have yet to see improvement from our receivers or our QB’s.  in the last two seasons.  I am not sure if it is just a talent thing or coaching.  Coach McGiven has had to use 10 different starting QB’s in his last 3 years. That is over 3 a year, which is scary. Is it the offense?  Bad luck?  Regardless, the part of this team that will impede its growth is the offensive line, the QB play and the defensive line. Those three positions have had the most struggles this year, but two are getting better.  The offensive line played a far tougher defensive front this week than Cal was and it showed, but they were still more than good enough to win the game.  The defensive line is getting better and better, but still has some work to do. This Utah team was very injured on their offensive line, but still had two legitimate NFL prospects that played. So it was a tougher task.

Quarterback looked like the roughest position on the field for both teams, and in the case of Utah, I have to say it was because of our defense.  In the case of us, watching passes to nobody, dropped balls and lack of separation by our receivers leads me to believe that there are still some serious issues to deal with. And that is not unexpected.

It is fine to be critical, because I am not sure that all the coaches are doing as well as their peers.  Maybe we just need better players, because development isn’t as strong in those spots.  I have no idea, but if you look back at the top of this report, I never expected it to be great. We knew coming into this game and this year that we were going to struggle.  We wanted improvement, well we got it.  And now we are starting to narrow down the parts that don’t work well.  Will we overcome those?  Maybe not this year.  But the focus of what OSU needs to do is pretty clear.  Improve on the lines, at QB and at Receiver.  Do that, and you may see OSU start to pull through on these games and win more than they lose. This is year two and it was going to be a little ugly.  We all knew it.  But now that we see good parts the parts that still need work stand out that much more.  It is frustrating, but it is also exciting to see the progress and realize a few pieces will make a huge difference!

The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Excellence
This week, I feel like this needs to go to Caleb Saulo.  Caleb was all of the field and made some huge plays.  He also played so aggressively that he literally made some Utes quit on a few plays.  His sack was huge and came at a huge time and he seemed to be all over the ball carrier all game long.  I really feel like the linebackers came alive this week and made the biggest leap of any part of the team.  Saulo was a key component of that and showed a lot of leadership for the Beavers.

The Jujifruit Award of Improvement
While there have been a lot of players improving, I have to go with Marcus McMariyon.  To come off the bench and pass better than anyone all game en route to a quick TD strike was impressive.  Marcus gave OSU hope in a game that looked to be out of reach at a 19-7 deficit and an anemic offense. Marcus came in and lit it up through the air culminating in a TD pass to Hunter Jarmon late in the game. While they couldn’t complete the comeback, Marcus showed that he can come in and get points when needed.  With the injuries to Garretson and Blount, we will need him to show that a lot in the next few weeks.

The Good ‘N Plenty Award of Shame
To me, this is pretty easy this week.  It is obviously TV timeouts.  While last week was specific to the Pac-12, this week it is at all of TV. I understand that they need to make their advertising money.  The problem is as that model dies, and in the case of many P12 games, the audience will never be there to garner the big money because most of the country is asleep. This last week, we had Ohio State and Wisconsin playing at 5pm PST.  That game took all eyes off of any P12 game that wasn’t those fans or P12 supporters.  So what is the benefit of TV TImeouts?  In the case of the P12network, how many of those breaks are just for P12 content?  Is that effective use of advertising space? Is there more value to constantly stopping the game or having one big break at the end of each quarter.

We are in the era of smart phones and Red Zone TV.  We are no longer a captive audience but a mobile and sporadic one.  Rarely do we watch games in completion without doing something else or flipping channels for another game because there are so many available.  The worst part is the effect it has to live games. it is hard to build momentum if you have a commercial break during a play review and then again one play later after a punt.

For me, there has to be a better option for a dying model.  Superimposed logos, PIP adds in the corner of the screen. frequent sponsorship call outs, or even just higher rates for fewer slots. While I love that all the games are on TV, it feels like the live version of the game suffers, as does the play on the field. Which destroys the product.  The product should be protected at all costs, and the flow of games can cut down on overall time and appeal to more patrons. If Football could be narrowed down to a 2.5 hour event instead of a 3.5 hour one, it might be able to take the next step in popularity.

As it is, we have a model where games are getting longer, play is interrupted and fans are choosing to watch other games or something else entirely during the big lapses, and are missing the game.  Boo that for sure.

What do you guys think?

 

Go Beavs (PRO)

 

 

McMaryion Now The Man

Marcus McMaryion, who was 5 of 9 passing to finish the game Saturday against Utah, will be the starting quarterback for Oregon State this coming week against Washington.

Darell Garretson, who started the first 6 games of the season, is done for the season, after suffering a broken ankle in the 4th quarter against the Utes. Surgery is on the agenda early this week.

And Connor Blount, the walk-on true freshman that lead the Beavers’ second half rally against Boise State, and played the majority of the game at Colorado in relief of Garretson, is also out indefinitely, including this Saturday for sure, after suffering an apparently serious left knee injury shortly after taking over for Garretson. The training staff spent Monday working to get the swelling down enough for an MRI to fully assess the injury. While Blount hasn’t been ruled out for the season, his return doesn’t appear to be imminent.

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Williams Retires Oregon State

Utes Storm Past Beavers 19-14

A month ago, Utah running back Joe Williams retired from football. But when 4 other Ute backs also went down, Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham and assistant coach/running backs coach Dennis Erickson asked Williams if he would consider coming out of retirement the first of the week.

Oregon State doubtless wishes J. Williams had stayed retired. After a week’s practice, J. Williams ran for 179 yards and a touchdown to lead Utah through today’s storm and the Beavers to a 19-14 win.

The day’s predicted foul weather kept many ticket holding fans away (the ticket distribution was 32,093, but the crowd couldn’t have exceeded 25K), and they didn’t see the weather that wasn’t as bad as it could have been at times, but was nevertheless the biggest factor in the game.

The combination of wet footballs and winds that surpassed 30 mph and were also swirling limited Utah quareterback Troy Williams to a 4 of 13 day, for only 42 yards, though he did run for the 8 yard touchdown, below, that turned out to be the game winner with just over 3 minutes left in the game.

Troy Williams

Oregon State’s Darell Garretson only completed 1 of his first 16 throws, before recovering to complete 3 of 4 before being knocked out of the game with an ankle injury.

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Final Thoughts On The Utes, The Run Game, And The Defense

Utah comes to rainy Reser, and its time to get back to business for the Beavers. Both the weather and last week’s 47-44 win over California in overtime gives Oregon State reasons for optimism on a level they haven’t had in the Gary Andersen era.

The Beavers will encounter some things they didn’t last Saturday, like an actual defense, for one thing. But they won’t be seeing as dangerous an offense as the Bear Raid either, particularly with Utah bringing a retired running back Joe Williams, due to the number of banged up backs they have. And the California team Oregon State just beat had in turn beat the Utes 28-23 the week before.

Utah nevertheless is a top 25 team, ranked 21 coming in, and with wins over BYU & USC on their 5-1 resume over the first half of the season. And they lead with physical defense, one unlikely to allow even half the 474 rushing yards Oregon State rolled up against California.

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