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.
The extra break that a second bye this season that resulted from the moving of the game at Colorado State up into August seemed like a time when the extra time afforded would allow some sort of change up to the floundering that has resulted in little but embarrassing blowout losses when the opposition isn’t from the Big Sky conference this fall.
And Coach Gary Andersen might spring a surprise of some sort tonight. I certainly hope so. But if he has something in the cards, he certainly hasn’t tipped his hand so far.
Not that giving away the game plan is something any coach is likely to do, but some reason to believe a better performance might be in the works would have been a good message to send to a Beaver Nation population that’s been in disbelief at the ineptitude they have seen so far.
But it will take more than a few specific tweaks to the game plan, or the play calling, to make a difference against a much more talented team with a much better coaching staff.
One possibility might have been some realignment of assistant coaches, since neither side of the ball has been effective, or even prepared for what they have been faced with. Instead, about all we got were comments from Co-Offensive Coordinator Kevin McGiven to the effect that 1/3 of the way through the season, he still hasn’t figured out how to use Thomas Tyner, the sole 5 star player on the roster, suggesting Tyner may not play much in his return, after missing the last 2 games with a pulled hamstring, despite the fact that he’s been full speed in practice.
Oregon State is at a talent disadvantage in every game they play against other than an FCS opponent, and as such, they can’t afford to not maximize what few strengths they do have.
For this reason, the extended break seemed like a time when Andersen might have brought in a consultant, typically a more experienced coach who might have insight into how to deploy the personnel the Beavers have in a more effective manner.
It’s not an unprecedented approach. Washington Coach Chris Petersen brought in an offensive consultant to help a team that was headed for the College Football Playoffs.
Andersen has done so as well, having brought in a consultant in his first season in Corvallis. That didn’t help, but now as then, when you are looking at potentially the worst season the program has suffered through this century, a fresh perspective at least sends the message that answers are being looked for.
Right now, there’s no evidence of that. And its not just the flabbergasted investors in the program that are noticing (and staying away), recruits are as well. In a year that promises to produce a relative bumper crop of FBS talent in the state of Oregon, where there are typically less than 10 next level players that come out of the state, every one of the top 10 rated in-state recruits have already excluded Oregon State from their consideration.
With a trip to the LA Coliseum coming next Saturday, a win anytime in the immediate future seems out of the question. But a respectable showing is a must. Otherwise, the talent necessary to turn things around will be as lost as the dollars from the 7-figure financial hits the home games so far this season have resulted in.
Effort isn’t the issue, or the answer, for that matter. I’m hoping to see something that demonstrates both awareness of the issues, and the competence to do something about it.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)