Monthly Archives: November 2017

Jonathan Smith Returns To Oregon State

One of Oregon State’s own agreed today to take over the football program at his alma mater today. The official introduction will come tomorrow, but word got around late this morning, and by this afternoon, Oregon State Athletic Director had Smith getting off a private plane at the Corvallis air port.

Smith was the quarterback for the Beavers from Halloween Day 1998 in his walk-on freshman year through 2001, and led Oregon State first to the Oahu Bowl, their first post-season game in 36 seasons, and then to the Fiesta Bowl, site of still one of the biggest wins in Beaver History, the 41-9 blowout of Notre Dame that led to finishing ranked 4th in the country.

Standing less than 6 feet tall, Smith was never going to be an NFL quarterback, but he’s become a premier collegiate assistant coach.

After 2 years as a graduate assistant at Oregon State, Smith spent 6 years as the quarterback coach at Idaho. That was a rough stint, as one might expect in Moscow, but it also means Smith understands about being the underdog at an under-resourced program. That mostly losing stint did end with a winning year, and a bowl game in 2009 though.

That was the beginning of a run of 9 straight winning seasons.

Smith then became the Offensive Coordinator as well as the quarterbacks coach at Montana, and the Grizzlies went 7-4 in 2010, and then 11-3 in 2011.

That got him a promotion to become the quarterbacks coach for Chris Petersen at Boise State. The Broncos then went 11-2, including beating Washington in the Las Vegas Bowl, and followed that with an 8-5 season, and a trip to the 2013 Hawaii Bowl. The Beavers kind of spoiled that, with a 38-23 win.

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Oregon ReWrites Record Book At Oregon State’s Expense

Oregon rewrote the record book in the 121st Civil War in the process of obliterating Oregon State 69-10.

When Royce Freeman ran for his second touchdown of the day to make the score 31-7 not 5 minutes into the 2nd quarter, he passed Oregon State’s Ken Simonton to set a new conference record for rushing touchdowns with 60.

It was part of a Civil War record 35 points scored by a team in a quarter that was part of the a 52 point first half that was a new team record for Oregon and a new Civil War record for most points scored in a half.

That was also the most points scored this year in any half by any CFB team against a CFB opponent.

That set the stage for a game in which Oregon posted the most points ever scored in the Civil War and the largest margin of victory, 59 points, ever in a Civil War.

Oregon executed well on both offense and defense, against an Oregon State defense that routinely was in unsound alignments, regularly failed to address primary coverage responsibilities, repeatedly failed at gap cancellation, and often abandoned back side coverage responsibilities.

Meanwhile, the Beaver offense was again plagued by poor passing, struggled to establish the run, floundered aimlessly with personnel and play calling, and compounded the problem with a foolish special teams call that gave the Ducks the ball at the Beavers’ 19 yard line, which resulted in another Oregon touchdown on the next play. Oregon State also missed a 38 yard field goal, committed numerous turnovers, and drew multiple major penalties, including personal fouls on the opening kickoff of both halves.

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Thoughts On The Civil War And Bigger Issues

The idea that there are bigger issues involving football in the state of Oregn than the Civil War, at least during Civil War week, is an indication of how much the landscape has changed, and how important some of those bigger issues actually are.

Oregon could be concerned with keeping first year head coach Willie Taggart now that the coaching carousel is starting to spin at considerable velocity, and Oregon State is preoccupied with landing their new coach before someone else beats them to their favored recruits. And once the moves start to be made, even ones that won’t involve Oregon State’s preferred candidates will impact them, as each move begets more movement.

The uncertainty around the future leadership of the Oregon State program means there is also uncertainty about the direction and style of the program, and all of that has to be sorted out before the remaining players can make decisions about their future, not to mention potential recruits.

That and the fact that the Ducks are enough better with quarterback Justin Herbert back to go along with Royce Freeman’s drive to start a record book burning party that Oregon is more than a 24 point favorite has essentially killed most of the buzz about the 121st Civil War, at least around Beaver fans.

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Arizona State Explodes Early To Overwhelm Oregon State

Arizona State tends to be an inconsistent team at best, and can be downright mediocre when they can’t control the game. But the Sun Devils are very hard to beat when they score early, and even moreso under Coach Todd Graham when they take a substantial halftime lead. Yet they struggle mightily in the state of Oregon in general, and at Reser in particular, especially late in the season.

Oregon State knew all that, but was unable to do anything about it. The last thing the hapless Beavers could afford to have happen was for the Sun Devils to get off to a good start.

Yet that’s exactly what happened Saturday.

Arizona State took the opening kickoff and marched the length of the field in 4 plays, the last of which was a 23 yard touchdown pass from Manny Wilkins to Kyle Williams.

Oregon State went 3 and punt, and Arizona State again marched the field, going 71 yards in 8 plays, the last one on another touchdown toss by Wilkins, this time to Curtis Hodges.

Just like that, the Sun Devils were up 14-0 not 6 minutes into the game, and before the Beavers were able to run their 4th play of the day.

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Thoughts On The Final Home Game

Oregon State plays their final home game of the season at noon Saturday, against Arizona State. It will be Dad’s Day, Senior Day, Family Weekend, and Armed Forces Appreciation weekend as well. All good things to reflect on and bring the family that is Beaver Nation together.

And there’s even a chance it will end on a happy note, as the Sun Devils have lost the last 5 times they have ventured to Reser, and haven’t won in the state of Oregon in 12 years, since a 42-24 win over Oregon State in September of 2005. After all, the northwest, especially when the trip comes in November, is a relatively inhospitable place when you are used to the endless summer that in the Arizona desert. And generally, Arizona State isn’t a very good road team, having only 1 road win in each of the last 3 seasons. That’s only slightly better than Oregon State!

Hopefully that will result in more filled seats than empty ones in the stadium, though it will be impressive if the place is more than half full.

The last visit was the last big upset win of the Mike Riley era, all the way back in 2014, when the Beavers upset the then 6th ranked Sun Devils 35-27 on a frigid night, with temperatures in the teens at kickoff and falling like a broken icicle.

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2018 Pac-12 And Oregon State Football Schedule Announced

The Pac-12 has announced the 2018 Pac-12 football schedule, at least the dates. Kickoff times as we know will be set much later, and there might be a little shifting of non-conference dates, especially those on opening weekend. But for the most part, we now know who will be playing where, and at least on what day.

As such, we certainly don’t know about the number of night games, but there is good news conference wide, especially compared with some of the debacles we have seen this season and last.

Gone are the Friday night road trips for teams coming off a Saturday road game, something that’s bitten all 3 of the conference’s teams that were until that point in the hunt for the College Football Playoffs.

And largely gone are the Thursday night games, which have been nightmares on most campuses, and unmitigated disasters logistically and attendance wise in most cases.
There are at this point, only 2 Thursday games, and one is a first week non-conference game, the season opener at Utah against Weber State, from just up the road a few minutes.

The only conference contest on a Thursday is Stanford at Arizona State on Oct. 18.

No one has a season with their bye in the first or last week either, meaning 12 straight games, a problem mostly caused by the Notre Dame effect. Next year, the Holy War will send BYU up to Utah on the last Saturday of November. The Utes and Colorado will play their game the weekend before, which is when the USC-UCLA game and the Stanford-Cal game will also be played.

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Arizona Runs Over Oregon State

Last November, Oregon State beat a beat up Arizona team 42-17 in Corvallis. Going into tonight’s rematch in Tucson, most folks were expecting a similar score, except with the teams reversed.

And that was about what happened, as the ‘Cats literally ran over the Beavers for a 49-28 win, though that did represent the smallest of victories for Oregon State under interim coach Cory Hall, as the line was 22 points, so the Beavers did cover.

That’s about it though, and it was effectively over by halftime. Arizona, led by Heisman hopeful Khalil Tate, set the tone for the evening early, which was one of the ‘Cats literally shredding the Beaver defense.

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Thoughts On The Khalil Tate Phenomena And Oregon State In The Desert

Oregon State takes on Arizona tonight in Tucson. Its a rare (for the Beavers) actually nationally televised game on ESPN2, but the buzz won’t be about the visitors; the relatively large scale attention is entirely about the ‘Cats phenomenal phenome quarterback Khalil Tate.

Tate only took over as Arizona’s QB after Brandon Dawkins was rode into the bench in the ‘Cats first drive of their 5th game of the year at Colorado, and he’s already become a candidate to at least get an invite to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Tate became the first person ever to be named the PCC/Pac-8/10/12 conference offensive Player of the Week 4 weeks in a row, in a magical October winning streak.

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California Answers All Oregon State Challenges

Oregon State used a mix of creative play-calling early and an afternoon of energetic effort to repeatedly challenge California on a beautiful afternoon in Strawberry Canyon Saturday afternoon. But the Bears promptly and effectively answered every one of the Beavers’ challenges to pull away for a 37-23 win to celebrate Senior Day.

If there was a silver lining from Oregon State’s point of view, California Offensive Coordinator and former Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin’s audition for the Beavers’ head coaching job went very well.

SONY DSC

The afternoon started with the surprisingly good turnout of Beaver Nation in Berkeley getting buoyed by a pregame pep rally reminiscent of some of the best of the road trips, and not seen since the early days of the decade, and it immediately translated to the team. Oregon State drove the field with the first possession of the game, and capped the 75 yard march with a double pass, as quarterback Darell Garretson threw backwards to tight end Tuli Wily-Matagi on the right flank, and Wily-Matgi, below, promptly threw all the way back across the field to Ryan Nall, who the Bears had inexplicably turned loose totally.

Nall stopped and waited for the ball, and then turned and trotted in for the touchdown, and a 7-0 Oregon State lead not 4 minutes into the game.

California immediately answered with a 4 minute, 75 yard drive of their own, capped by Patrick Laird’s 12 yard touchdown run to even the score at 7 apiece.

The Bears took the lead for good as it would turnout late in the first quarter, on a 14 yard pass from Ross Bowers to Vic Wharton, above, and extended their advantage to 17-7 on a Matt Anderson 47 yard field goal early in the second quarter. Wharton would finish with a game high 8 catches for a game high 121 yards.

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Thoughts On HallIn Out For The First Time

After interim head coach Cory Hall got Oregon State to be competitive in a loss for a second time last week against a depleted Stanford squad that played with RB Bryce Love standing on the sidelines, talk locally around western Oregon that Oregon State should make Hall their hire as the next non-interim head coach erupted from a little conversation to an uproar.

A #HallIn Twitter campaign was launched, and so was an on-line petition started by a player and signed by most of the players.

This is WAY overboard, and it would be extremely disappointing (as well as an extremely large risk, and therefore an extremely bad decision) if Oregon State were to do so.

That’s not to suggest the athletic department shouldn’t seriously consider retaining Hall, and making it a priority when interviewing candidates to discuss continuity of those things about the program that are good. When you have had 4 bad years in a row, and 6 in the last 8, and only one of those that was in anyway anything more than severely mediocre at best, there obviously isn’t much that is right with the program, but there are some positives.

Hall has exhibited qualities that will serve him well, as well as his employer, and keeping him in the program could prove beneficial, especially given that most of the contributors in the next 2 seasons are already on the team, or in the short current commit list.

But to read into 2 competitive home losses against struggling opponents that Hall, who has only 3 seasons of assistant coach experience, none of which is even with a full position group until 3 weeks ago, never mind as a coordinator, is ready AT THIS POINT to lead a Pac-12 program is a step too likely to result in an even bigger disaster.

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