Monthly Archives: October 2017

Punchless Stanford Gut Punches Oregon State

Playing without former Heisman Trophy frontrunner Bryce Love, whom the Cardinal couldn’t get ready for a made for national television opportunity to showcase after he suffered a twisted ankle 12 days ago in their win over Oregon, 20th ranked Stanford was effectively ineffective until the end of the game Thursday night at Reser Stadium.

While that had a lot to do with Love’s absence, combined with Stanford’s offensive line’s inability to generate any push, Cardinal quarterback Keller Chryst mostly showcasing his limitations (Chryst completed only 16 of 33 passes, for only 141 yards), and questionable play calling, it also had a lot to do with an energetic effort by the Oregon State defense.

Stanford played their worst game in several years, and Oregon State played their best game of the season defensively. Bright Ugwoegbu had the best game of his career, and Jonathan Willis was all over the field, and even recorded a sack of Cryst, the only one the Cardinal has allowed in their last 5 games, among his co-game high 10 tackles.

Landry Payne had a game high 7 solo tackles on his way to matching Willis’ 10 total, and Omar Hicks-Onu snared an interception, just the 4th one the Cardinal have collectively chucked up this season.

Stanford was held to just 81 yards rushing, and no one could readily recall the last sub-100 yard ground game by the Cardinal, because it virtually never happens. Their 222 total yards was about half their season average.

And though they lacked any downfield ability to stretch the field, the Beaver offense mounted a ground game that produced 2 touchdowns, and a time of possession advantage of over 5 ½ minutes, another almost unheard of stat when dealing with Stanford.

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Oregon State Faces Tough Job Facing Stanford

Oregon State hits the field tonight for the first time in 12 days, against 20th ranked Stanford. After a surprisingly solid effort in a 36-33 loss to Colorado 5 days after Gary Andersen had resigned, the team and program actually had time to make some adjustments, not just change the mix of plays already in the system. Not that that by itself didn’t take on a distinctly different look against the Buffs.

It should be an interesting evening, if for no other reason than to see what interim coach Cory Hall does with extra preparation time.

There are other reasons to be interested though.

The Cardinal have had a similar length break, which means Bryce Love’s chances for a Heisman may have gotten lost in the shuffle of everything else that happened in the college football world, much of it bad around the conference unless you are in Arizona. But it also means Love, who has had a heavy work load in the first half of the season in piling up a per game rushing average of 198 yards, is rested for a stretch run that might also rekindle interest in him and his Heisman hopes. If he’s too do that, it will come at the expense of the Beavers.

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Colorado Pulls Out Down To The Wire Win

Colorado threw Oregon State’s Ryan Nall for a 3 yard loss that forced the Beavers’ field goal attempt to force overtime that would have been good from 50 yards out to fall a couple of yards short when Jordan Choukair, who had hit 4 earlier attempts, had to try it from 52 yards.

That was the difference in the Pac-12 battle that saw 5 lead changes, including 4 on the 4 drives prior to the missed field goal that all ended in the end zone, as the Buffs pulled out the 36-33 win that spoiled Oregon State interim head coach Cory Hall’s head coaching debut, and the Beavers’ Homecoming celebration that featured the remaining members of the 1967 Giant Killers team.

Hall, also the Beavers’ cornerbacks coach, took over the team on Monday, after Gary Andersen and the university mutually decided to part ways.

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Final Thoughts On The First Step Forward

Oregon State will expend a lot of effort recalling a great group (at least what’s left of them) of players who were pretty good down the stretch 50 years ago during this week’s Homecoming contest,

The Beavers will also play their first game under the primary direction of interim head coach Cory Hall, appointed this week after former head coach Gary Andersen came to a mutual agreement with Athletic Director Scott Barnes and the University to part ways. The previously planned 50th Anniversary celebration of the 1967 Giant Killers will provide a convenient diversion to the real reason most people are suddenly interested in the Beavers and the game.
Oregon State has won the first game under a new head coach the last 4 times the situation arose, but extending that streak to 5 will be a tough task.

The opposition is Colorado, and the Buffs, who are the Pac-12 South Division Champs, and had gotten off to a 3-0 start against non-conference opposition, including a 17-3 win in the Rocky Mountain Rumble over the same Colorado State team just a week after the Rams had demolished the Beavers 58-27.

But the Buffs have subsequently lost 3 in a row, making them the first division winner since the Pac-10 expanded to the Pac-12 and split into divisions to start the following conference campaign 0-3. That includes a 37-10 thrashing by Washington in a rematch of last year’s Conference Championship game (and Beaver fans are quite familiar with the challenges Washington poses, having been blasted 42-7 themselves by the now 5th ranked Huskies.

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What Oregon State Needs To Look At In Their Coaching Search

With the mutually agreed upon departure of former head coach Gary Andersen from Oregon State, a coaching search has ensued. So has a long list of names of prospects. And there has been a lot of conversation about style, as in offensive guy or defensive?

These are good points to ponder, and they point out the dilemma facing Oregon State. On the one hand, the coach search has to proceed quickly, with a new coach hopefully named in early December, just after the end of the regular season, and notably before most if not all the bowl games. With an early signing period in December, followed closely with the main signing date, salvaging anything in recruiting this year is an important issue for a program already behind most of the conference in terms of talent and depth. And with all members of the current staff gone as soon as the Civil War is over, there are no relationships left, so the new staff has to be in place as soon as possible to pick up whatever pieces they can.

The new coach and his staff can’t be one that runs off talent that isn’t theirs either. With a late start on recruiting, current players are going to not only still be around, they are going to have to be the core of the program for at least a couple of years, and key contributors for a couple more years.

The new coach has to be capable of melding multiple attitudes, and figuring out how to make best use of diverse available personalities is a must. This was a major tactical and philosophical error Andersen made.

If the “my way or the highway, total buyin is the only way” attitude is brought in, any coach exposing that approach may as well go down that highway right away, or they will find themselves going down the highway soon enough as well. The successful candidate must be able to sell his vision, but he can’t expect to compel its adoption.

But if anything has been learned from the Andersen era, its that Oregon State has to get this next hire right. Which means doing their due diligence, looking beyond just the plusses that various candidates offer, and not ignoring red flags.

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So Now What, Oregon State?

The season, and the Gary Andersen era, has gone up in a cloud of smoke. But to the credit of both Oregon State’s administration and Andersen, rather than run things further into the ground with no benefit, a mutual agreement for all parties to move on was reached, and all concerned can get started with starting over.

It’s not going to be a quick fix, or a cheap one, and its going to take more work on all fronts than anyone expects. But that’s the nature of things like this, and was already a foregone conclusion, given how badly things have gone off the rails. And as noted, it gets Beaver Nation started on the restart.

So what can we expect?

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Gary Andersen Out As Oregon State Coach

In a joint statement issued today by Oregon State University from Head Football Coach Gary Andersen, Athletic Director Scott Barnes, and University President Ed Ray, Andersen and the University have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.

Assistant Coach Cory Hall, who is the team’s cornerbacks coach, will be the interim head coach, while a national search for a replacement is conducted.

Importantly, and in an unprecedented move, Andersen also agreed to waive the remainder of his contract.

“After many discussions with Scott, waiving my contract is the correct decision, and enables the young men and the program to move forward, and concentrate on the rest of this season,” Andersen said. “Coaching is not about the mighty dollar. It is about teaching and putting young men in a position to succeed on and off the field.”

“Coach Andersen’s decision to waive his remaining compensation is unprecedented in major college athletics,” Barnes said. “His decision is made for the right reasons and values, and it speaks volumes about the kind of honorable person that Gary Andersen is.”

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USC Capitalizes And Oregon State Doesn’t

USC capitalized on Oregon State’s miscues and break downs much better than the Beavers took advantage of mistakes and sloppiness by the Trojans Saturday afternoon in the LA Coliseum, and as a result, took the 38-10 win that continues a whole host of streaks not in Oregon State’s favor.

The Trojans took a 2 touchdown lead just over 6 minutes into the game. Then they fumbled the ball to the Beavers a couple of times. But Oregon State dropped a pair of first half touchdown passes, and failed to convert on 2 field goal attempts. Later on, the Beavers would fail on an ill-advised attempt at converting a 4th and 2, probably prompted by the problems with the kicking game. When the Trojans also eventually faced a 4th & 2, they converted to keep the drive alive, and eventually go on to score a touchdown.

It was the sloppiest game the 14th ranked Trojans have played all season, but the reasons the Beavers covered the spread for the first time this year were it had grown to ridiculous proportions, 34 1/2 points, and USC coach Clay Helton pulled his starters early in the 4th quarter, and then directed his reserves to hand the ball back to Oregon State rather than punch in a second touchdown when they could have, a thank you for the Beavers not rushing the extra point kick when the Trojans again used their blind backup long snapper Jake Olson.

Despite the three first half USC turnovers, Oregon State got not points off of them, and still struggled and self destructed more than enough times to still not have beat the Trojans in the LA Coliseum since 1960, and have lost 16 in a row on the road. That includes going 0 for 14 in the Gary Andersen era, with 13 of them being blowouts.

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Beleaguered Beavers In A Bad Spot For Everyone

Oregon State takes on USC in the LA Coliseum tomorrow afternoon, and its probably not going to end well. The Beavers have not won in the Coliseum since 1960, and haven’t won on the road since Boulder in 2014. Since Gary Andersen took over 3 years ago, they haven’t even come close on the road except last year at Minnesota, the only road loss not by multiple scores.

For all of these reasons and many more, the Beavers are 34 ½ point road underdogs against the 14th ranked Trojans, who will be motivated to change impressions after their 30-27 loss in Pullman last Friday night to now 11th ranked Washington State.

An OSU win is almost certainly out of the question, so the main item of interest is whether the Beavers can even cover the spread, which has been growing on a weekly basis. At some point they will, even though they haven’t yet this year, if for no other reason than an ever more ridiculous expected margin will eventually not be met based solely on how one team’s 3rd string does against another team’s hodge-podge of 2nd & 3rd string players, in an exercise that has no relevance to how good either team actually is.

But when one has to settle for evaluating just how bad the Beavers are, and must resort to seeing if freshmen who should be redshirted make a few good plays to offset getting beaten badly multiple times (if you can bear to do so, listen to the radio call tomorrow, where that’s exactly what you will hear), then it’s a misguided effort, with the attention focused in the wrong place.

There is a huge difference between whether the Oregon State defense can get a stop, and whether they can make a difference in the outcome of the game. Especially with a continuing inert offense.

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Washington Adjustments Throttle Oregon State

Sixth ranked and still unbeaten Washington not only did what all good teams would have done, they did what, well, all teams have done Saturday night at Reser Stadium. The Huskies’ offensive coordinator and play caller Jonathan Smith got in a corner in the basement of Gill Coliseum (that’s where visiting teams to Reser are banished to) with quarterback Jake Browning, WR Dante Pettis, RBs Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman, and his offensive line, and made adjustments based on what a pesky but overmatched Oregon State team had shown in a first half that ended with the Beavers within 7 points, down only 7-0 to the defending Pac-12 North and Conference Champions.

The result was 35 straight points. 28 of them came in a matter of 16 minutes, as the Huskies roared off to a 42-7 win.

The story in all 5 of Oregon State’s games this season is about how the Beavers’ opponents made half time adjustments, while he Oregon State staff makes no discernable changes, and in no way responds to what their opponents do differently.

Its why 1-4 Oregon State has been out-scored 79-21 in the 3rd quarter, and 147-49 over the entirety of the second half this season, and would be winless had Portland State, who is winless, had a kicker.

It’s also why Washington recorded a 6th straight win over Oregon State, and their 5th consecutive complete and absolute blowout destruction of the Beavers, who have still never beaten a Chris Petersen coached team.

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