Monthly Archives: September 2017

Final Thoughts On What Looks Like Another Husky Mauling

After a bye week devoid of any specific indications of anything that might be done to turn around what has so far been a disaster of a season for Oregon State, the Beavers embark on the middle third of the season tonight, taking on defending division and conference champion Washington.

It’s only the second time the Huskies and Beavers have ever met in September, with another Sept. 30 meeting in 1995 equaling this year as the earliest date the teams have ever played each other. That game was also in Corvallis, and Washington won 26-16.

The 6th ranked Huskies roll into Reser fresh off a 37-10 win in Boulder in a rematch of last year’s Pac-12 Championship game, in which they reeled off a 37-3 run after giving up an early touchdown to Colorado.

The Beavers were blown out of Pullman 52-23 by the Cougs, and lost quarterback Jake Luton to a fractured vertebrae in the process. Darell Garretson, above, will take over behind center.

Neither team’s most recent results suggests any reason why Washington won’t continue their recent domination of Oregon State. The Huskies have won 5 in a row, the last 4 in blowout fashion, including a 41-17 rout last year in Seattle, in a game that was 31-0 at halftime. And if there is a more troubling stat than that, the 2 most dominant beat downs of the last 5 losses both came in the games in Reser. The early line of 26.5 seems too low if anything.

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All The News That Isn’t In The Bye Week

As Oregon State quitely goes through the first of two bye weeks, and the first week of classes on the Corvallis campus, the silence has been significant.

Other than the news at the beginning of the week that quarterback Jake Luton will not only be ok, he might even be back later in the season, there’s been no news. After the Beavers’ atrocious 1-3 start that’s that good only through sheer luck, and after 3 massive blowouts, a bye week is the time one might expect to see something changed, as there is extra time to actually work on whatever changes are made to something that flat isn’t working.

Not that there are all that many options for a college football team; you can’t pick up players off the waiver wire.

But a program wallowing along at a 4-21 clip against FBS competition since the arrival of head coach Gary Andersen, and doing it with ever fewer paying customers watching, you would think would not only try something different, they would make sure everyone knows about it.

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Washington State Outclasses Oregon State

Washington State outclassed Oregon State Saturday afternoon, rolling to a 52-23 win. And this after the Beavers played their best game so far this season!

The number of coverage and read errors were down, and the Oregon State defense actually made some stops, got their first 3 sacks of the season, got a safety, and blocked a field goal.

Yet the Beavers flat out got beat (time and time again), as the 21st ranked Cougars repeatedly abused an overmatched secondary.

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Thoughts And Observations On Being On The Receiving End Of An Air Raid

Going into Pullman, and this weekend’s visit by Oregon State to the Palouse, its hard not to have a “duck and cover” mentality, especially in light of any number of recent and relatively recent events that seem relevant, many involving Oregon State losses and poor performances, and/or Washington State wins.

The last time the Beavers were in Martin Stadium, the Cougars, behind Luke Falk, and faced with an Oregon State defense incapable of putting pressure on him or any opposing quarterback, rolled to a 45-17 halftime lead, and coasted to a 52–31 win that was never in doubt after about 5 minutes into the 2nd quarter. The current Oregon State defense, which hasn’t gotten a sack of a number of opposing quarterbacks in 3 games (Portland State and Minnesota both used multiple qbs), and hardly even any pressure, is even less of a threat to disrupt anyone’s passing game.

The last 2 times the Cougars came to Corvallis, they had to rally from behind, but did so, as the Beaver defense was unable to avoid getting bombed by the Air Raid. Falk has already thrown for over 1,700 yards just against Oregon State, exceeding the career yardage of several recent Beaver qbs against all competition.

Last week, Falk got pulled twice, both of which were among a long list of decisions by Coach Mike Leach that were the subjects of considerable debate, and yet the Cougars still rallied from 3 touchdowns down to eventually beat Boise State 47–44 in 3 overtimes with Tyler Hilinski at the helm.

Apparently Leach is finally getting close to Leach-proofing his own team, where he has enough players that are good enough that even his in game decisions can’t mess things up.
They all speak to the current disparity in the programs, on a variety of levels.

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Minnesota Mauls Oregon State

Minnesota rowed into Reser Staium Saturday night (the Gophers currently don’t roll, they row), and roared out to a 17-0 lead by early in the 2nd quarter. An unseasonable and unexpected storm suddenly swept in, and temporarily swamped their boat, during which the Beavers put up a pair of scores during the soppy conditions that resulted. But then halftime came, and 2 things happened.

The storm, which had temporarily negated most of the factors that typically differentiate good teams from bad ones, passed. At the same time Minnesota coach PJ Fleck and his staff bailed out their boat, and made adjustments that put more effective pressure on the Oregon State offense and negated most of what they had been able to do, and established control of the line of scrimmage when the Gophers had the ball.

Gary Andersen and his staff made no discernable adjustments.

The result was 4 unanswered Minnesota second half touchdowns, as the Gophers totally dominated the second half, and pulled away to a 48-14 win that was stunningly similar to what happened in Fort Collins in the season opener, when the Rams turned a 4 point game at halftime into a 31 point blowout.

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Final Thoughts On Gopher Ball And Sinking Boats

Saturday night’s B1G Ten-Pac-12 showdown where Minnesota visits Oregon State won’t get the attention the matchup between teams from the same Rose Bowl partner conferences down the road earlier in the day will, and not just because local favorite son Mike Riley and a number of other ex-Beavers who are running the Nebraska team are the ones visiting Oregon. But its still important, and not just because new Gopher coach PJ Fleck is one of this year’s media feature figures.

Visits by B1G teams, or any now Power-5 teams for that matter, to either Corvallis or Eugene, are relatively rare, and 2 non-conference games in the state on the same day against any Power-5 teams are exceedingly rare. This is the first time 2 B1G teams have ever been in the state of Oregon at the same time.

Nor is it likely to happen again any time soon, as Oregon State doesn’t have a future home game scheduled against any B1G team, and Oregon has just one. And with Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen being on record as being opposed to playing B1G opponents, attracting attractive opponents isn’t on the immediate agenda either. (But then, he’s opposed to playing Boise State too.)

So this is a big deal, not an opportunity to be missed. Yet last week’s 1/3 empty stadium, and having every indication that Beaver fans aren’t enthused about the game doesn’t suggest reality will measure up to opportunity. Especially with most of the other attractive and or most important games involving conference teams at least overlapping if not almost totally in conflict with this one.

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Reactions, And Reactions To Overreactions

The week following the first full weekend of football season is the single week of the year, never mind the season, when the most over-reactions occur. We finally have something tangible to react to, but we don’t have much context to judge opening weekend results against. Its why week 2 is when we really begin to learn about where teams stand, as we begin to find out which teams lacking in recent success, preseason hype, or historical prestige are going to have a better season than many expected, and which ones who have had recent success or some history that got hype were in fact over-hyped.

At the same time, its not as simple as who won and who lost; are surprisingly close games more about problems with the winner, or the losing team being better than expected, even if they weren’t good enough to get the W. And then there is always the question of whether what we saw with any team is indicative of things to come, or was it the anomaly that every team experiences at some point during the season.

The Pac-12 went 11-0 for the weekend, but 5 of those games were wins over Big Sky FCS opponents. BTW, there are 3 more of these games still to come in the conference. Good news for sure, but only 2 wins, by UCLA over Texas A&M and California at North Carolina were surprises. The latter, a big surprise, and the former, a big surprise in how it unfolded.

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Oregon State Escapes With Win Over Portland State

Struggling Oregon State escaped with a narrow 35-32 win over FCS Portland State Saturday afternoon, and were extremely lucky to do so.

Had Graycen Kennedy’s 46 yard field goal attempt, which was amply long enough, not sailed wide right (this on a kick from the left hash mark), overtime would have ensued, and there’s a good chance the Vikings, who out-played the Beavers most of the day, would have won. Of course if Portland State had a kicking game of the competence level of most decent high school teams, at least one of their failed conversion attempts probably would have been good, and the field goal that should have been made would have won the game.

There were some positives for Beaver fans, those few who turned out and actually stayed for the finish, not the least of which was the game winning 7 play, 77 yard drive, executed in a minute and a half, and capped by freshman Isaiah Hodgins’ game winning touchdown catch, above.

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Final Thoughts On The Home Opener And The Vikings

One thing about football is its complexity. There are so many players, and others, involved in a game that typically takes over 3 1/2 hours to play, never mind everything that goes into the run-up and the aftermath, time enough for all sorts of circumstances to arise, that there’s always multiple storylines, and both positives and negatives most everything.

Today’s home opener against Portland State is no exception. I’m not generally a fan of an 11 AM start, and most others aren’t either, but given the unseasonable heat, being relegated by the Pac-12 Channel to the early part of the day will actually be a good thing.

The quality of Oregon State’s depth is an under-discussed component in the second half meltdown in the heat at Colorado State, which is comparable to predicted temperatures for this game. Rotation players couldn’t get the job done in some cases, and unable to use as many of them as desired, staying with the starters more than planned under prevailing conditions meant they got hot and tired, moreso than Colorado State’s. Make no mistake, even though the Rams are a Mt. West team, 1-50 they are overall a better team than Oregon State is, even if some of the Beavers individually are better than their Colorado State matchup.

Playing FCS opponents is a controversial issue a lot of people involved with FBS would like to see go away. Given how things went last week in Fort Collins, a more manageable game to make a bounce back in is actually a good thing just at the moment.

There will actually be position matchups where the Beavers are actually bigger or faster than the Vikings. Not all of them, but more than a few of them. That’s much more positive than the matchup situation against the Rams.

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