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.

The other 2 losses could just as easily been wins though, as the Buffs were beat 27-23 at UCLA, and then lost last week 45-42 to Arizona, when ‘Cats backup quarterback Khalil Tate came off the bench after starter Brandon Dawkins had been run into it, and proceeded to run for an FBS record by a quarterback 327 yards.

The Beavers’ Darell Garretson isn’t going to give that good of an impression of Tate, which seems to have completely taken the Buffs by surprise. Jake Luton is still out, and I’m not sure we should put Benny at QB.

And OSU is still down 3 CBs against a receiver corp of Shay Fields, Bryce Bobo, and Devin Ross. And Phillip Lindsay, who rolled up 281 yards and 3 touchdowns in the loss, is still an elite RB, and going against a defense that can’t stop the run, and is even worse against the pass.

Coach Hall will get some energy out of some of the players, and might even find some spark here or there. But the Beaver defense is 120th in the country against the pass, 121st overall, and 127th (of 130 FBS teams) in scoring defense.

The offense is 116th overall, and not in the top 100 rushing. To makes matters worse, Ryan Nall is doubtful again, after suffering a sprained ankle against Washington. Interim coach Cory Hall has said Nall will play, but how effective will he be, and for how long?

A large part of both casts of characters are the same ones that were on the field last year in Boulder when Colorado Buff-stomped Oregon State 47-6.

Interestingly, the line, which opened at Colorado by 13 ½ points, dropped a point after Andersen’s departure, and has further dropped to now 10 points. What exactly has happened that suddenly makes the Beavers a field goal better, especially given the trouble Oregon State has had actually making field goals, is hard to fathom.

Its unreasonable to expect miracles from a coaching staff that will be following Andersen out the door come December 1st, or a roster that needs multiple recruiting classes to fill in all the gaps.

But Andersen’s departure, and especially the fallout that came out afterwards, should serve as a wakeup call to all concerned. Today will be the first day to see who in the program, on the field and in the administration, takes a step away from any of the many things that scream “small time”.

(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

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