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.
Oregon State did have some good individual plays, and some players had good days.
Victor Bolden, left, had his second long touchdown scoring fly sweep of the season, this one for 75 yards, and even better, had a couple of great blocks thrown in front of him that made the Beavers’ best play of the day possible.
And playing without both starting running back Ryan Nall, who reinjured his foot after one big run last week against Utah, and his backup Artavius Pierce, who had a shoulder/collar injury that was much more significant than the “stinger” it was originally characterized as, the Beavers got a boost from Tim Cook, below, who ran for a career high 108 yards, his only 100 yard collegiate effort.
The Beavers even blocked a punt, though it came too late to matter, and the Huskies would get the ball back 1 play later, with an interception.
The Oregon State pass defense also held Washington’s Jake Browning, right, who came into the game leading the nation in quarterback rating, to just a 50% passing day, and only 291 yards, which resulted in a quarterback rating of only 89.9.
But he threw for 3 touchdowns, as well as rushing for another.
Two of the touchdown passes came as a direct result of multiple members of the Oregon State secondary not only totally blowing coverage, but not recognizing the coverage breakdown in time to even get back into the picture by the time the touchdown celebration was underway.
It’s hard to know who’se fault a blown coverage is; did someone not hear the complete coverage call, or did someone associate the wrong coverage with the call they heard? But when multiple players all blow their coverage responsibility on the same play, something is seriously wrong.
Another score was set up by the inexplicable decision to put 9 in the box on 1st down, out in the middle of the field. That resulted in Washington’s John Ross, he of 4.25 40 speed, singled up on Treston Decoud on a deep out route, something he had no chance of defending.
Washington is a very good team, every bit a top 5 program. But as much as they are capable of good plays, they very rarely make significant mistakes, and when their opponent does, they almost always take extreme advantage of it immediately.
Oregon State miss-fires when similar coverage breakdowns afford them a free big play.
Marcus McMaryion, right, making his first start this season, after both Darell Garretson, out for the season with a broken foot, and Conor Blount, out indefinitely with a knee injury, went down last week against Utah, made some decent throws, and clearly has improved both his strength and throwing mechanics since last season.
But he completed less than half of his throws, going only 12 for 26, for just 148 yards, and with no touchdowns, and finished the day with a quarterback rating of 35.2.
He also threw 2 interceptions, and both, on a day where McMaryion generally made good decisions, came as a result of absolutely horrendous decisions. One, in full Connor Halliday mode, was a decision to just chuck the ball up into coverage, and where no Beaver could even get to it. The other was a deep out route where McMaryion locked on his primary receiver from the time of the snap, and never even averted his eyes before throwing. Austin Joyner had the ball picked off the instant it was released.
The issue with not going through any kind of progression or route tree has been a consistent problem the last year and a half, where even looking at a second read is a rare and notable occasion. The fact that its been a consistent issue with 5 different quarterbacks points to coaching, and quarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven.
There were other issues as well.
It took until the 3rd quarter for Oregon State to figure out a way to split Washington DTs Greg Gaines and Elijah Qualls, and attack the Huskies’ unusual 2-2-2-5 look. But then the play calling was up the middle so-o-o often that even that became predictable.
Clock management was a mess, with the Beavers burning all 3 of their first half timeouts in the first 10 minutes of the game, and then despite trailing, never using any in the second half.
Head Coach Gary Andersen, despite playing without multiple starters, didn’t even bring a full road game roster, if for no other reason than to provide some big arena, big time opponent experiences for some new players. Only 63 Beavers made the trip, 7 less than allowed.
Oregon State’s defense also struggled from assignment responsibility.
In addition to the aforementioned breakdowns, the Beaver defense also struggled frequently with assignment execution.
Edge containment is frequently non-existent, and the results included Myles Gaskin, left, running for a game high 128 yards, and a touchdown, leading a Husky 225 yard running night.
The defense was on several occasions hurt by crossing routes that went unchecked behind the linebackers and ahead of the true secondary.
It will need to get better before the Beavers (2-5, 1-3 in the Pac-12) meet Washington State (5-2, 4-0, after beating Arizona State 37-32 tonight) and their Air Raid next Saturday night; the Cougars thrive on crossing routes.
In contrast, the Washington defense not only did a good job on the edge, the Huskies regularly got upfield wide defensively, both disrupting and containing the Beavers in their backfield.
The 7-0, 4-0 Pac-12 North leading Huskies visit south leading Utah (with ESPN Gameday on hand) next Saturday.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)