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.

Oregon State’s defense, rested coming off a bye week, gave up a 98 yard scoring drive on Washington’s first drive, but then got after the Huskies pretty well in the first half. The Beavers recorded 3 sacks of Washington quarterback Jake Browning, including above, which was a better effort than their first 4 games of the season combined produced, and made for the worst outing of the season for the Husky signal caller.

And yet Browning, above, still went on to complete better that 76% of his passes, for 293 yards and 3 touchdowns. Most of that came in the second half, including all of the touchdown tosses, all of which went to Dante Pettis, below, who had a game high 12 caches, for a game high 105 yards.

Almost all of the catches, including all of those for scores, came against single man coverage, by an array of Oregon State DBs, none of whom had the size or skill to match up man on man with the Huskies current number one receiver. For unknown reasons, the Oregon State defensive coaches tried last year to defend John Ross with single man coverage, and that ended disastrously in Washington’s 41-17 romp. Its even less clear why they didn’t learn from that.

Smith certainly did, and after seeing the potent Washington offense be relatively bottled up in the first half, attacked the not only overmatched, but mis-deployed Oregon State secondary, realizing that going down field would result in completions unless it resulted in penalties on the Beavers, who are woefully mis-coached in technique.

This after the Huskies had kept the drive alive by converting a 4th & 10 against an ill-conceived Beaver defensive alignment.

“There was literally nobody on defense over there on the right side,” Browning said, explaining his audible to what turned into a 10 yard run by Coleman that set up a first and goal.

Smith also realized that would in turn un-bottle the Husky running game, and Gaskin, above, wound up with 113 yards on 15 carries, including a 32 yard touchdown run to cap the third quarter, after Browning had twice connected with Pettis for scores.

Gaskin’s running mate Coleman, below, piled on another 70 yards on just 9 carries, before Smith called off the Dawgs after 1 more touchdown toss to Pettis to start the 4th quarter.



Meanwhile, Oregon State didn’t get a first down in the second half (something they only recorded 8 of all game) until Washington Defensive Coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski also called off his half of the Dawgs, using almost the entire 4th quarter to get reps for 2nd & 3rd stringers.

No one expected much from the Oregon State offense, with quarterback Jake Luton out indefinitely with a cracked vertebrae suffered unnecessarily late in the 52-23 blowout loss 2 weeks ago at Washington State.

But even without a quarterback, Oregon State was expected to generate something on the ground, even against the vaunted Washington defensive front, which really is all its hyped up to be.

But the Beavers managed just 29 1st half rushing yards, 22 of which came on 1 carry by Artavis Pierce.

And while everyone knew fill-in quarterback Darell Garretson, who is incapable of throwing down field, and wildly inaccurate on a good day (he was only 50% on 22 attempts last night, and only 1 of the 11 completions went for more than 6 yards), there was at least supposed to be the addition of a mobile quarterback, and Garretson might be able to do something running, at least until that gets him another season ending injury.

Instead, with that as one of his tools in play calling, Oregon State offensive coordinator Kevin McGiven had Garretson carry 1 time. For 1 yard.

That was just the beginning of a completely non-sensical game plan and play chart.

Above is a picture of a completion to wide receiver Jordan Villamin, just so readers will realize that there were completions to OSU wide outs (there were actually 2, 1 fewer than there were touchdown tosses to Pettis).

Ryan Nall, below, was actually Oregon State’s leading receiver, with 44 yards on 5 catches, though his last one, for 19 yards resulted in him getting a sprained ankle that ended his night. That was much better production than the 18 yards he managed on 9 runs.

Washington shut down the Oregon State run game playing a 2 man front, as is their norm. Having a pair of near future NFL players in Vita Vae and Greg Gaines helps make that possible, but its also not an unknown to anyone. Which is why McGiven’s repeatedly running Nall into a wall was mystifying.

About as mystifying as getting Seth Collins 1 touch, which came on a backwards play that blew up for a 9 yard loss.

Or waiting to make much use of Thomas Tyner, above, until after Oregon State was down 6 touchdowns, when a 5 1/2 minute scoring drive didn’t do anything but break up the shutout, and put Tyner into the trivia book, as possibly the only one to have ever scored a touchdown for both Oregon and Oregon State.

Or not only not even playing freshman WR Isiah Hodgins, who has been the Beavers best wideout to date this season, for no stated reason.

When asked postgame about the notable absence, Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen said “I have no idea. To my knowledge, Hodgins was available. I didn’t see him on the injury report. You’d have to ask offensive coordinator McGiven and our passing game coordinator, coach (Jason) Phillips.”

I would have asked that follow up question, except they are never available post-game to explain their decisions.

Perhaps Hodgins became ill at game time or something. But a simple one sentence explanation of the situation would have been appropriate, and one Andersen should have sought out at some point during the game if one wasn’t forthcoming.

It was yet another coaching staff failure, and yet another bad look, from a group that comes off as being as overwhelmed and unprepared as their team is on the field.

Which speaks to bigger problems, including the bad look of a customer and investor base that has either checked out, or did so early in the 3rd quarter.

Ticket distribution was announced at only 37,821, but that was buoyed by thousands of Husky fans, and a large turnout of students, encouraged by a promotion to win free tuition for a term (which the university avoided paying out on with an impossible to accomplish challenge between the finalists that left them only on the hook for a book fee consolation prize). There were never 30,000 people in the stadium though, and the season and corporate ticket base is only as large as it is because of the loss of access to seats that might become attractive again under some other staff.

Early departures eclipsed even what happened in the Minnesota loss, and concession sales crash even more than gate receipts when that happens. The losses are going to impact far more than just the football program.

Oh well, cue the fight song.

Oops, wrong cue. Bow down was the theme we heard the most Saturday night


(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)

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