It’s Election day and Veterans’ Day week, and its a challenge to make sense out of everything. And not just on the political front.
Oregon State makes their final road trip of the season this week, trekking to Pasadena to take on UCLA. Both teams are sitting on 1 Pac-12 win for the season, and little else that has gone well.
For the Beavers, that’s as was expected, or should have been. For the Bruins, who were picked to win the Pac-12 South, and possibly even contend for the College Football Playoffs, and with possibly the best returning quarterback in the conference (certainly the best NFL prospect), its been a major surprise, and a major disappointment.
UCLA can still reach a bowl game, though that means upsetting USC. However, that game’s not in the Coliseum, and being a rivalry, an upset is not as out of the question as it would be otherwise.
But only if they beat the Beavers. And only if the Bruin players really care about playing in probably the Las Vegas Bowl.
Oregon State can’t extend their season into December. The question is can they be competitive on the road? The answer has been no so far, but then the Beavers have played the Bruins overall even this century in the lightly played series, despite a huge disparity in the all-time matchup in favor of UCLA.
Boundless and bounding hope, to the point of being irresponsible, still exists in some quarters, and a handful of plays last week at Stanford continues to drive those hopes. The trouble is you can count the number of good plays Oregon State has in a game on offense on one hand, and the number on defense on the other. That’s not enough to ever win consistently.
One local paper even ran a story declaring Oregon State to be close to meeting the eye test after the loss to the Cardinal.
Maybe an eye test for the blind.
At least those blind to details like the Oregon State team quarterback rating being 127th of 128 FBS teams.
And this week, Coach Gary Andersen is talking about platooning the quarterback position, starting Marcus McMaryion, but also playing freshman Conor Blount for the first time since he was injured against Utah.
Blount found this out via Twitter, not from his coaching staff, but that’s another matter.
Or the fact that Stanford ran for 365 yards, and Christian McCaffrey just 1 yard shy of 200 yards. This by a team that cannot pass the ball, yet managed to hold onto the ball twice as much as Oregon State.
UCLA’s offense is a big unproductive mess, though their defense is decent. But Oregon State does have a chance, maybe.
Or so we might have thought until this week’s release came out, and Ryan Nall was listed as doubtful. For a team that can not throw the ball accurately, running the ball is mandatory. It’s hard to envision doing it well enough without Nall being a factor.
But then it was hard to understand how he didn’t get a carry in the 4th quarter at Stanford. It wasn’t hard to understand how that ended any chance of a comeback, though.
The unofficial chatter around campus is the issue is concussion-like issues, and conveniently calling an early end to practice before letting the hand chosen members of the media into practice did nothing to address that. Nall may be the first person to ever experience concussion-like issues after getting his ankle twisted.
And then there were the strange comments post game that brought to light that once again, all the team members who were healthy did not play in the Stanford game, and that one or more of the foot soldiers might have been sent home on the band bus.
None of that matters to the good Beavers that are the core of the team, like Fred Lauina and Gavin Andrews, above, who have fought on to their level best as the questions continue to exceed the answers about what’s going on around them.
We’ll see the bulk of the team fight again, and we might even see them pull off the win, which might mean the end of it for Jim Mora as the Bruins coach. And we will hear more about the powers that be down the road in Eugene considering spending in the vicinity of $20 million to replace Mark Helfrich, who has led Oregon to one more win than Oregon State has, but is 3 mis-executed plays from 6-3 and at least a bowl trip.
There’s no such concern for results in Corvallis, and there won’t be, at least until there is an Athletic Director. How that eventually turns out will be infinitely more relevant to the future of Beaver football than ANYTHING that happens this Saturday, or next week against Arizona, and even in the Civil War, for that matter.
Which is one reason why I couldn’t understand the point of the blind man’s eye test article.
Or the play-calling in Palo Alto. Or the absence of a quarterback anywhere on campus. Or the …fill in the blank.
My advice to Beaver fans: Get to know a couple of these kids better, and root for them. And then be there afterwards for them. At this point, it’s the best thing we have, and the best thing they have.
I wish there was more for them.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)