The first couple of game recaps didn’t include handing out the candy awards, which have proven to still be a popular part of Oregon State football analysis. These were always Peter’s choices, at least while he had the time to do the dispensing, but we will try to resume the tradition. The long road trips and night games that have become commonplace on the Beavers’ schedule contribute to the problem, but also make candy-worthy performances all the more note-worthy for all the same reasons.
The Halloween Spice Drops Award of Awesomeness goes to running backs in both of the first two games.
Even in a lopsided loss, Artavis Pierce earned a big bag of spice drops for his 80 & 78 yard touchdown runs on the 1st & 3rd plays Oregon State ran in the 3rd quarter against Ohio State. They were spectacular sprints as we saw them, but you only realize how notable they were when you realize the Buckeyes haven’t allowed 2 touchdown runs that long in the same season in over 20 years. Most of that time, Ohio State has been pretty good.
That’s why it disappointed and concerned Oregon State fans and team members alike as much as it did when after a good start against the Thunderbirds (another 91 yards and a touchdown), Pierce hyperextended his left elbow when he landed out of bounds just shy of scoring a touchdown in the second quarter of Saturday’s Southern Utah game. The injury will likely sideline Pierce until the Homecoming game against California, after the bye week, after mid-October.
Fortunately, Oregon State has true freshman Jemar Jefferson. All he did was run for 238 yards and 4 touchdowns on 22 carries, and tack on 27 more yards on 3 receptions to lead the Beavers’ 48-25 win over the Thunderbirds, their first win in over a year.
Jefferson’s 238 yards rushing was the third most ever by a Beaver, and just 1 yard shy of Steven Jackson’s best day. Only Bill “Earthquake” Enyart’s epic 299 yard night at Utah was better. That’s company that earns Jefferson his own big bag of spice drops.
The Juju Fruit Award of Diligent Improvement is one that the trials and frustrations of the Gary Anderson era made it hard to persevere to. Indeed, its hard to tell if the recipients really showed more improvement OR more perseverance in finally showing improvement.
In either case, Oregon State fans have to be happy with the results.
In Columbus, it was hard to look anywhere other than at Trevon Bradford’s 6 catches for 104 yards and 2 first half touchdowns, which included a 49 yard catch from Conor Blount that reminded Oregon State fans that there is in fact no rule in the NCAA rulebook that says only Oregon State opponents can throw the ball on a deep route.
That feeling was reinforced against Southern Utah when Bradford broke off a 46 yard punt return, and had 3 more catches for 47 yards, including a difficult 33 yard touchdown catch, all before the mid-way mark in the second quarter. And why it was even more disappointing and concerning when Bradford joined Pierce in having their arm in a sling, with ice applied.
Fortunately, there’s a chance Bradford may be able to play in Reno, and should be available the following week against Arizona in any event.
These several accomplishments don’t happen without the noteworthy accomplishments of the Oregon State offensive line though. Considered a contributing factor to the offensive ineptitude so often seen during the Anderson era, the o-line was still expected to be a strength, at least relatively, for the Beavers this season, in part because of the experience. Junior Blake Brandel was expected to continue to be among the conference’s best, and junior Gus Lavaka was hoped to continue to develop. But while center Sumner Houston, guard Kammy Delp, and tackle Trent Moore are all 5th year players, there was still considerably uncertainty about the o-line.
Even in the loss to Ohio State, the perfectly balanced 392 yards of offense, evenly divided with 196 receiving (almost all in 1 half, thanks to qb injuries), and 196 rushing, was encouraging.
In the home opener, the Beavers rolled up 649 yards, 360 on the ground, but also a solid 289 passing.
Those numbers will earn almost any line an ample allocation of Jujufruit.
The Good N’ Plenty Award of Shame or Actions that Diminish Your Sport of Choice award, as Peter once wrote, rarely goes to a player, and even less often goes to anyone associated with Oregon State. But after the trip to Columbus, it has to go to the Oregon State Athletic Department. Not for booking yet another body-bag game (although that is another reason for this award), but for not sending Benny!
Marvel comics created cool comic book covers for 4 opening weekend games, including one for the OSU vs OSU game, to help kickoff the season. But Oregon State didn’t even find room on the team charter flight for Benny. C’mon, Oregon State. Step it up.
The second week of the season featured more lopsided games than competitive ones, even more than opening weekend. In many cases, it was a product of games that featured FBS teams beating down FCS teams that are at a huge disadvantage. In other cases, it involved mismatches that entertained no one. Oregon State was involved in such situations both games.
The complaining is long and loud. Some of it is directed at the Ducks down the road, some of it at the Huskies up the highway, and the baked goods involved in both schedules. It’s nothing new either; anyone recall the glorious day that was the rescheduled Nicholls State game?
But rather than blaming the various athletic departments, as not all of this is really their fault, I’m awarding some Good N’ Plenty Shame to the NCAA, which needs a better model for non-conference scheduling.
Everyone from the top 25 to the bottom 25, and the FBS schools, need non-conference games. And they all need the money to run their programs. But everyone would benefit from better matchups, and the fuller stadiums they would produce. The member schools should engage a scheduling service to make matchups from within the pool of teams that gives teams and their fans less in the way of difficult travel not worth the destination game, and more good football. The broadcast carriers would probably even help out with the pot of money, chipping in more for more games people don’t click out of early in the 3rd quarter at the latest.
Now, its time to get ready to head to Reno, where Oregon State will be returning the game from when Nevada played in Corvallis. In 1903. (The only other meetings between the schools were a home & home in 1998 & 1999.)
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)