Oregon State fans who had taken in last week’s scrimmage at Summit High School in Bend were using it as a benchmark, and hoping to see areas of progress in today’s second scrimmage, and the final one before the season opener in now less than 2 weeks in Fort Collins against Colorado State, came away underwhelmed, as the Beavers seemed to take a step back in several areas.
Operating without slot receiver Seth Collins, the offense was even more one dimensional than usual, and didn’t stretch a defense at any point in the abbreviated hour and quarter scrimmage. The good news (at least for the offense; not so much for the defense) is the running game was effective, with both Ryan Nall and Thomas Tyner running well, and an array of backups including Atravius Pierce, and freshmen Calvin Tyler & B.J. Baylor all had moments of flash.
And Trevon Bradford, above, who was filling in for Collins, running the fly sweep showed well, though the defense’s struggles with containment were a component of that.
We did see one instance of using both Nall and Tyner in the backfield at the same time, but only that one instance.
Collins was held out for initially unspecified reasons, but it was eventually determined to be a finger injury. Coach Gary Andersen did not specify either the severity or exact nature of the injury, or an anticipated time line for Collins’ return, but he will be reevaluated several times over the next 2 weeks as Oregon State shifts from “camp mode” to game preparation specifically for Colorado State. There was and is a considerable amount of concern around Reser about Collins’ availability against the Rams.
The shakeup of the offensive line does seem to be working, with Fred Lauina moving out to left tackle, and Trent Moore inside to left guard, with Gus Lavaka switching over to right guard, on the other side of center Sumner Houston, and Blake Brandel at right tackle. Quarterback Jake Luton, below, frequently had plenty of time in the pocket, and the running game was solid.
But the 1s were usually against the 2s, so not too much can be taken from it. We saw on the first series that the 2nd team defense can’t recover after blowing assignments well enough to defend TE Noah Togiai, below, or anyone else, for that matter.
Even so, the offense’s complete lack of virtually any vertical principals is going to make it hard to sustain drives when opponents determine they can stack their defense within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage without fear of any downfield repercussions.
However, the bigger concern was the defense, as the 1s had trouble with even the 2nd string offense, never mind when they faced the starters. And a stop after the #2 O missed its reads on multiple plays, and consecutive passes missed receivers by 5-10 yards doesn’t count either.
Regardless of which unit is on the field, the defense rarely attacks, usually playing in reaction mode, and that doesn’t work when the defense only occasionally can bring pressure.
Linebacker Manase Hungalu being used in only a very abbreviated way, and very late in the proceedings, while it did give other reps, didn’t do anything for defensive cohesion either.
The defense did have several red-zone stops, but those were as much a product of the unimaginative offense sputtering as it was anything the defense did. Even one series that reached 4th down, after multiple plays with highly questionable play selection, and the wrong personnel group, were stopped, ended in a quarterback keeper for a touchdown.
Another sequence of note came when Luton missed what should have been “Layup touchdowns” on back to back plays, first a fade to Jordan Villamin, and then a tight end cross to Togiai. Several onlookers commented on the pass breakups by the second stringers, but the breakups were actually quite routine.
In both cases, Luton lofted unpressured passes, and even commented afterward that he felt really good about the toss to Villamin. However, on both routes, the pass needs to be on the receivers’ outside and leading shoulder, but instead were off-target short, to the receivers’ back shoulder, and inside, where it should never be thrown under any circumstances. The margin of error with both routes is outside or high, so that either only the receiver can get to the ball, or no one can.
Repeated reps between the starting quarterback and the starting receivers are essential to get the timing and length of throws down, and a mix and match of receivers and quarterbacks won’t fine tune things.
One of last week’s offensive stars, freshman WR Isaiah Hodgins, assumed the role of the forgotten receiver this week, and was almost as uninvolved as frequent backup Timmy Hernandez, who was also held out of the scrimmage due to injury.
It does appear that Andersen is determined to burn Tyler’s redshirt, even though he won’t be any higher than 4th on the running back depth chart unless there are injuries, as Tyler got the 1st, and usually only, kickoff return looks. Not that the kickoff and punt drills as run serve any meaningful purpose, though.
At this point, the best Oregon State game plan would appear to be to give the ball to Nall, above running over a defender, and get out of the way, and when he gets tired, give it to Tyner. That and hope to heck it starts raining soon and doesn’t stop for 14 weeks, so that the nearly unplayable conditions of the latter part of the Civil War, when it was impossible for anyone to execute any semblance of real offense other than power run, are the prevailing circumstances.