Author Archives: Peter Riley Osborne

Final Official Candy Report: Civil War

I was officiating a wedding in 2007, the last time that the Beavers won a Civil War.  I had watched the first half of the game at a friends house, and after griping about the new “Catch through the ground” rule and some unfortunate turnovers late in the first half, what seemed like it could be a laugher turned into a nail biter.  Huddled with the groomsmen of the wedding, we listened to the game, through the bizarre “leaping and landing” call and the fourth down stop and Fire Arc Arizona, I was spent.

After that game, i thought that we were seeing the rise to dominance of the Beavers.  The following year, we would beat USC at home and while very injured going into the Civil War, I felt like we had an OK shot at winning.  I was wary of the ducks who had been surging of late, but I thought we had the defense to slow them down.

I also am wrong a lot.  And I mean a lot.

Every year since, I have been waiting for signs that we were returning to being a competitive rival for the ducks, and maybe sneaking in some multi season dominance. The first step to this was taken last Saturday.  Behind the legs of Ryan Nall, Marcus McMaryion and Artavis Pierce, the Beavers ran old school, smash mouth football on the ducks all the way to the first Civil War win in nearly a decade.

In this game we saw everything we have come to expect from a Civil War.  3 of the last 4 contests being decided by 10 points or less, the Beavers have knocked on the door a few times.  This year they blew through the door with a punishing ground game on a windy, rainy fall night in Corvallis, Oregon. Not to be outdone, the Beaver defense held the ducks to under 400 yards for the first time in over a decade, withstood a furious rush of points in the third quarter and maintained their identity of being the hammer and not the nail.

It was amazing for so many reasons, but also bittersweet for Peter Osborne (or Peter71 as many of you know me as).  Amazing because it was the first of what I think will be multiple Beaver Civil War wins.  As the coaching staff at Oregon begin packing their things at their office, or at least planning their next steps and freshening up their resumes, the Beavers are trying to channel the excitement of a two game win streak (first streak in the Gary Andersen era) and Civil War victory into recruiting wins as they try and improve on a very competitive and improved season by the men in Orange and Black.

Bittersweet because the last two weeks have shown me something that I have felt for a while but didn’t want to admit:  I cannot continue to write The Official Candy Report.

it is not that i have lost my passion for the Beavers (though it has changed a bit) but rather that life is too hectic all the time for me.  With each week being a challenge to carve out some time to write even this one single post, I just cannot justify the loss of time with a seeming mountainous list of other commitments calling for my time.

So it is with a sad heart that I step away from TOCR. I started this 13 years ago on Pure Orange because I wanted to have some fun with games and also to show my appreciation for the players that choose to fight for OSU, whether in good times or bad.  Ultimately, I did this for the players. As an ex-player (though not for OSU because they were never THAT bad) I know what goes into each game. The preparation, film study, practice, home work, study halls and somewhere finding time to be a 20 year old student.  The amount of time that student athletes have to commit to school and athletics is daunting. I wanted to write something that showed that I appreciated them even if the team wasn’t doing well.  With 11 different people playing at any given play, some of them are bound to be doing well.

Through this blog and postings on Pure Orange and people asking for Candy on Tuesdays if I was running late (really my favorite memories), I have met some amazing Beaver fans and players and player families.  I have tried to honor them by making sure I respect the work they put in and the people that love them and just wanted a break from fans who make personal attacks or go out of their way to throw barbs at young men from the safety of their laptops and sofas.  Sometimes knowing them was a blessing, and some times knowing what was going on in a program was painful.  Through it all, I would never change a single moment or stroke of the keys.  With every typo filled article I was able to be a part of people’s weekly Beaver media consumption and that will always be precious to me.

So thank you, thank you all for everything. Andy is going to take over the blog for me and I may post now and again, but for right now, I am going to take this time, following a huge Civil War win to say goodbye and to offer up my last Award:

The Peppermint Candy Ice Cream Award of Lifetime Achievement:
This award goes to Beaver Nation. Right now, you are needed more than ever to help promote a program trying to build itself up into a power.  The Beavers need you and you have always responded when asked.  While I may be moving on as a writer, I hope to move up as a donor and supporter of the program.  Continue to make citizenship of this exclusive group such a great thing.  Crank some chainsaw, explode some first down chants, Fight Fight Fight all the way to the Rose Bowl and stay classy along the way.  No one wants to be like duck fans.  Or Huskies for that matter…

Go Beavers!

 

Fin.

 

The Official Candy Report: Stanford

Sometimes you can watch a game and say “Wow, that is the blueprint for doing ‘x'”.  I remember hearing that when Stanford beat the ducks a few years back and many thought that the Chip Kelly offense had been deciphered by the Cardinal.  And in a way it had been.  What was the answer?

Recruiting better players at every position.

Stanford as a team is disciplined and has sound schemes, But they are not clever or unique schemes. They are schemes based on age old defensive techniques and one other really important ingredient: Winning all the one on one battles.

When OSU played ISU this fall, Idaho State made some good plays and had some bright moments.  They left the game very happy with the results because they competed well against the Beavers. The reason was, they knew they were out-manned at every single position. They knew that if they lined up and tried to take the Beavers on 11 on 11 play after play, they were going to lose and lose big. Which they did. But that game for the Beavers didn’t feel great because ISU had success against us, and the Beavers are just too talented for a team like ISU to have that kind of success.

That was this week.  Stanford was just too talented. Our line couldn’t sustain blocks and the Cardinal were getting pressure rushing 3 and 4 players.  Our receivers had a hard time getting open and our QB had a hard time standing upright.  On defense, we had no answer for their run game.  Their passing was horrendous and they really only passed a few times because most of what they wanted to do on the ground worked.  In fact, had it not been for bad snaps by Stanford’s first year starter at center, the game might never have been as close as it was.

For Beaver Nation fans, we shouldn’t leave that Stanford game thinking we blew it. We should be excited at how well we really did against a team that is finally healthy and is honestly the most talented team in the conference.  Maybe even more so than Washington. This was not a blow out and it was never going to be because Stanford has a terrible offense.  This was also a Stanford defense that has been mired in injuries and young new starters going through growing pains and is now finally healthy.  Look at this injury report for their WSU game. Not a stellar look for a team that was playing a high octane offense.

I left the Stanford game and my recent reviewing of it impressed with some of the play by the Beavers.  I also left a little concerned about some of our position groups and how we are going to respond to some of the injuries and dings from this weekend as we prepare for a road game against equally dinged up UCLA.  All I know is that this game was the litmus test of where we are at in terms of talent and the answer is not quite there.  Good things and bright spots, but we still have a lot of recruiting upgrades to make before we can turn this game around and make a boring  but talented Stanford have to work hard to stay in the game.

THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROP AWARD OF SUPER GREAT STUFF
I tossed and turned on this one a bit.  I wanted to give this player the Jujifruit Award to be honest, because of their limited time on the team and limited reps in the field.  But Andrzej Hughes-Murray really was just a beast all game and deserves an award for excellence.  His 9 tackles were tied for the lead and his one tackle for a loss was a huge play for the Beavers.  He also was instrumental in a lot of plays that forced Stanford to go away from the goal of the play.  Andrzej is tough enough to take on blockers while being athletic enough to get around them.  He is a part of a nucleus of great players that Andersen and his staff have brought in on the defensive side of the ball. Great work Andrzej!

JUJIFRUIT AWARD OF IMPROVEMENT
This one I am going to give to Blake Brandel.  The Redshirt Freshman right tackle has been been thrown into the fire this year and for the first few weeks, it was hard to see a lot of improvement.  The last three weeks it has been very visible.  Blake has improved on finishing his blocks and his intensity from snap to whistle. As this rebuild continues to take shape, Brandel is one of the cornerstone’s of the future for the Beavers. Great work Blake!

GOOD N PLENTY AWARD OF SUPER CRAPPY THINGS
I waited until today to post this because I didn’t want to post the Candy Report on election day. Not because of ad clicks or media cycles, but because I knew what was going to get this award, no matter what the result of the election.  This award of the worst in football is actually more about the worst in society.  While I know I am setting a precedent of using this light hearted section for political or social reasons, I felt that nothing in football compared to what I was going through in the election.

We have a new president.  Our system of electing presidents resulted in a winner in Trump and a loser who conceded in Clinton.  But what happened around it was the worst.  Not because of the candidates, they are who they are and we put them there.  No, it is because of the way we were with each other.  It was because people lost respect for family because of a barrage of memes on facebook (something I hate yet begrudgingly use so I really see no need to capitalize it because I don’t respect it or my own use of it). It was because my seven year old daughter came home in tears because of what was said to her at school.  It was because I would look at a huge portion of the country that I love and think of them as idiots. Or worse, as un-American.

Today I am not happy and I was never going to be happy, because now I have to live with the feelings I have gained from the election cycle. I have to repair relationships or end them because they are beyond repair. I have to start to love again, because despite what I have seen recently, history has taught me that love always wins.  It’s just that sometimes the battles are very, very bloody.

So this week, the winner of the award for being the worst is me.  Because I let this election not be a discourse of ideas and compromise but instead a reason to hate. As I try and fix that, I hope that I can see others do the thing.  Winning and losing are both things that can be done well or poorly.  My hope and prayer for this country I love is that we do both of them well, because we are going to need each other to make sure that our ideas, dreams and goals don’t get lost in the noise, but instead enhance the message of what America really was meant to be:

A place where dreams come true.

Sorry modern election process, but you get this award because you do everything to destroy what you were meant to preserve.

The Official Candy Report: Washington State

The celebration was immediate and intense. As the Beavers’ last ditch hook and ladder play came to a thudding halt, the Washington State players erupted in joy and ran around in excitement of winning the game. On the other side, the Beavers felt the gut punch of a tough loss sink in.  While many (including Las Vegas) had the Beavers as two score losers in this game Oregon State came out punching, trying to change the narrative of their team and their season.

Up 21 – 0 in the first half off of huge plays by Ryan Nall, Victor Bolden and Marcus McMariyon and a suffocating defensive effort by the Black Curtain (or whatever we want to call this hard hitting, tenacious group of never quitters that make up the Beaver defense) the Beavers felt like they were on the verge of showing us what the process we were respecting was going to look like.

And honestly, despite the finish, I feel like I respect it more now than I did on Saturday at 7:49pm.

A lot of teams that have gone through what the Beavers have would have mailed in that game.  Tough consecutive losses, tons of injuries and a ranked team that is undefeated in conference play (who also crushed them last year) coming to town.  But the Beavers came out tough and fast and made a ton of plays.  Don’t let the slow start to the season by WSU fool you, this is a tough, violent team that has really done a great job on defense against a ton of teams and has scored points on everyone. Stopping them for two halves would have put them in rare territory (meaning the only team to do so in the last two years) so the fact that WSU came back is no slight on the Beavers.

Saturday was, in my opinion, a big indicator that the process is working. I feel like OSU has a team that can win at least 2 of their last four games and maybe could get all four.  They are not the extra bye week for opponents they showed last year, but a team you have to be ready to play and that is a tough out.  I love that.  I love that the Beavers are fighters. I love that they make no excuses and force teams to be ready.  Yes, I want to win, but I also picked this team to win 4 games and my mantra before the season was “I want them to compete.”  They are exceeding my expectations right now, and are still potentially bowl eligible this season.  They have to win out, but the fight I have seen in this team leads me to think that even if I think they are underdogs next week, I will not count them out.

Vegas will take notice too as they have been spread busters all year.

It wasn’t a win and it shouldn’t feel like a win, but that WSU team is the only team left that can challenge UW for the title in the North. They are maybe the 3rd or 4th best team in the whole conference, and they needed a huge effort in the second half to squeak by with a win. I don’t think any of the four teams we have left to play are as good as WSU. I think two of them are not even close.  So the Beavers have a shot and that is better than I thought they would.

And when you are in a rebuild, being surprised by positive play is a big deal!

THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROP AWARD OF TRIUMPH
I don’t want this to become an offensive only award, and I don’t want to just add the same names, but honestly, this game would have been a blow out had it not been for Victor Bolden Jr. The senior wideout had one of the best catches I have seen all year and his first run for 17 yards that should have been negative 2 was amazing. Bolden has become a legit, all conference play maker. He has become one of the best and most explosive players on a very explosive team.

Well done Mr. Bolden Jr!

THE JUJIFRUIT AWARD OF GETTING BETTER
This award is also easy.  Jalen Moore getting 10 tackles and a blocked extra point put his name on the map of players to be excited about for the future of the Beavers.  Not only did he have a huge game, but he also had a pass break-up and was just all around the field for the Beavers.  When we look at where the team is going, performances by guys like Moore are what give me hope.  He is a player and is making the most of his opportunities against one of the better teams in the conference.

THE GOOD N PLENTY AWARD OF SUCK
There is no game related event that I want to talk about, but rather a life one.  Long time Beaver fans, parents and supporters Mark and Cindy Kuykendall have a grand daughter who has severe food allergies that require she purchases six Epipens twice a year (I believe).   Rather than feel bad for herself like many people could, she is taking control of this and working hard to help people with a similar allergy to herself.  Here is her website for her fundraising efforts through the organizaiton FARE that helps provide treatment and monetary support for people that cannot afford the extremely expensive Epipens and other treatments.

The Kuykendall’s are not the Good N Plenty award winners. Anyone that knows any member of Mark and Mom K’s family know that they will kick the ass of anything that comes their way.  What sucks is that Lauren and her family has to do this and raise this money because of the messed up way our whole healthcare system works.  I am not going to turn this into a political or medical discussion.  All I will say is that there is a young girl doing everything she can to help people that she can empathize with because of her situation.  She is bravely taking on something that people older and more influential should be taking care of.  So the award of suck goes to the adults that have created a scenario where a young girl has to do their work for them.

I encourage anyone of you that read this to donate to Lauren via her website.  She is very close to her goal of $7000 so anything will help.

I know this is a Beaver blog, but this is a Beaver family that I value that have given their sons to our Beaver football program and their time and money to Beaver sports.  They are also the very best type of representative of our program and some of my favorite people.  This blog would be far less grammatically correct if it wasn’t for Mark and I would have far less Lemon based humor in my life.  I felt that the least I could do for them is to help out their Granddaughter with her quest to help those in need.

Go Beavs! (PRO)

The Official Candy Report: Washington

Sometimes, when you start a trip, say to Mexico, you prepare by getting your flights, packing your bags, making sure any details like paper delivery and pet feeding are taken care of and that you have your passport.  The whole time you are prepping this, you tend to have a vision. The vision is the result of all the prep, and that is the place you are going.  Whether it is a resort in Puerto Vallarta or a Pac12 title, the process is the same.  You have a vision of where you want to be that you keep as you tweak and adjust your program to get there.

Washington is that vision.  A fast, aggressive and talented team that plays disciplined and impressive football. Oregon State is in the packing and planning phases of this trip, but they are making strides.  Whereas last year they were still booking their trip and looking at flights, now we are in the meat of the rebuild.  The part where you are taking care of the details, trying to improve your pass rush or get the right personnel on your offense to get the most of it’s nuance is what OSU is in right now.

In looking at the game, you can see a few scenarios that show the tightening needed.  In the first drive of the game for the Beavers, nothing worked.  They were adjusting to the speed and the talent of their opponent. 3 and out, with some really poor execution across the board.  Then in the second drive, while it started out shaky, Marcus McMariyon hit on a few big passes to drive down near the red-zone. Going 5-5 for 50 yards, Marcus guided the team down the field and culminated with an 8 yard Tim Clark run that left the Beavers with a 3rd down and 2 yards to go at the UW 21.  At 14-0, the Beavers could cut the lead to one score or at least get on the board.

Then, they run two plays in a row that have Seth Collins making a throw and in WildCat formation.

This is not a burn on Seth who has done great things this year but kind of a weird call by the coaches. Even if the plays were scripted, they took the ball out of the hot hand (McMariyon) and put them into someone who has thrown two passes all year (both way out of bounds) and who has a 1.9 yard average on 13 carries this year.  That was not the date you took to all the way down field to the 21, so why the switch?  Unfortunately, both plays failed and the Beavers chose to go for it on 4th down.  Rather than use Tim Cook, their monster bicep-ed power runner who had just gauged the Huskies up the middle for 8 yards, they instead called a play for Paul Lucas, the speedy running back/receiver hybrid on an outside play.  Unfortunately for the Beavers, the Husky defender was just as fast and aggressive and pushed Lucas out for no gain.

This felt like a theme on offense.  As the defense got acclimated to what the Huskies were trying to do, the Beaver offense felt like it couldn’t get out of its own way.  The very next drive, while getting 14 yards on 3 Tim Cook carries, they then passed on (on 2nd and 6, which of course we always pass on) and then ended up with a 3rd and 6 which also fell incomplete after a pass break up by the Huskies.

Of course the next two drives the Beavers went for runs on 2nd and long and got 5 yards each time, giving them much more manageable 3rd downs.  They converted one but got cute on the other and didn’t get the 2 yards needed for a first down.

My point is that I think the Beavers are close to being a good team.  Not Elite like UW, but good. Right now the issue with the Beavers is that while they have a pretty great offensive system, capable of huge plays at any time, and a decent offensive line that is working their butts off to make plays, their play calling can be head scratching.  I am not an Offensive Coordinator and I don’t know all they are doing or trying to do.  I could be way off base, and part of play calls is execution, which is out of the coaches hands.  But another part is putting them in position to win. When the Huskies knew the play, it never worked. When they could pin their ears back and run to the ball, it was really difficult for the Beavers.  So for Oregon State, they need to be able to keep teams guessing, keep them horizontal and not vertical.

I felt like that was missing in this game. I am proud of the effort and proud of the progress, but I can see huge leaps this year, with 4-5 winnable games left, every little bit will help.  Sticking with what is working is good. But maybe I am over simplifying it. Maybe, just maybe I should trust them. After all, this year is turning out exactly as I predicted so far, and they are making the gains we all wanted to see.

Maybe I should respect the process a little more.

THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROP AWARD OF EXCELLENCE
A repeat performer, but I cannot give this award to anyone but Victor Bolden Jr.  He has been one of the MVP’s of this season for the Beavers and he has really elevated his game to be a legitimate Pac12 star.  When Victor was recruited, may called him the next Brandin Cooks. Which was unfair to him.  What we are seeing now is how his hard work has led to a closer comparison to Mr. Cooks. Victor demands attention on every play and is the name that opposing teams are conscious of when they play the Beavers.  His performance against the Huskies was one of the bright spots of the game and had the big play of the game for the Beavers.

JUJIFRUIT AWARD OF IMPROVEMENT
I don’t want to minimize the work of the defense by giving all these awards to the offense. The defense led by Caleb Saulo really did a good job against one of the best offenses in the country. That being said, Tim Cook really needs a shout out. Not only was he a 100 yard rusher against a team that averaged giving up less than 140 yards on the ground per game, but he did so in his first major action of the season.  Despite a few big plays and catches for the Beavers sprinkled throughout the year, Tim has been largely behind Ryan Nall, Art Pierce and Paul Lucas.  But Cook took advantage of his chance to play and ripped off over 5 rushes of 10 yards or more and did a great job in blocking the Huskies.

Great work Tim and this award is well deserved.

THE GOOD ‘N PLENTY AWARD OF SHAME
This award goes to everyone involved in the Friday night abomination between the ducks and Cal. First, the Pac-12 is punching their own nuts putting two weekly game extenders with their quick hit/long night offenses and almost non-existent defenses.  Watching those is like watching a home run derby and thinking that it is a real baseball game.  Bad calls and terrible decisions aside, this game had 0 chance of being under 4 hours. So when do you want to put that game? Well the Pac12 thought that putting that on a 10:30pm Eastern would be a great way to have people talking about how great the game was the next day. Because the game probably would just be getting over in time for Dan Patrick to report on the full overtime live.

For some reason, the Pac-12 is fine with picking non-football type football games with two hot seat coaches with questionable game time decisions to be played when they are the only game on Nationally.  You know, to represent the conference.   That game was the worst. Neither team deserved to win, yet one had to because one team tried losing harder.  Way to go Pac12 and Cal and the ducks.  Way to make football something that I feel I will skip the next time those teams play because I do like football and that, my friends, was not football.

The Official Candy Report: Utah

When I sat down to make my predictions for the season, I had Oregon State winning 3 games. ISU, Cal and Oregon.  My goals for the season were to see progress, to see improved play and to see the Beavers be competitive. I figured that would come by an improved offense and a slightly better defense.  After the first six games of this season, the Beavers are 2-4 and won the games I thought they would. How they won is a different story.

I have been very impressed with the way the defense has played.  We are still not able to stop the run, but passing yards have come scarce and at a cost against the Beavers.  The play of the secondary has been fantastic and the linebackers seem to get better every week.  Now Utah is not an offensive juggernaut, and the weather was not ideal for passing the ball, but the physical play of the Beaver secondary has really done a lot to shake up opposing offenses.

The problem is, that OSU’s offense is not really very good. You can point to moments here and there, but for the most part, the Beaver offense has not done much all season. Last season, the Beavers ranked last in the Pac-12 in scoring offense at 19 points per game.  We have improved on that this year, but by only 6 points.  At 25 points per game, we have the second worse offense in the conference (ahead of Stanford). We are averaging 14 yards more per game as well (350 ypg in 2016 vs 336 ypg in 2015).  That was obvious in this game where the Beavers had only 1 passing yard into the 4th quarter, and finished the game with under 300 yards of total offense. While Marcus McMariyon provided a huge spark in the air (throwing in 9 passes for more than any other passer all game combined) we still saw the same effect that the BSU game had.  A good drive by  new arm followed by not much as they adjusted. I hope that Marcus provides a huge spark to the passing game, but I also know that if the coaches should be trusted to evaluate talent, that there is no way they have their best passer sitting on the bench.  Something will have to give.

Which brings me to my point in this recap of the game.  Bot teams played in terrible weather, both teams had terrible mistakes (interceptions, fumbled snaps, overthrows, missed blocks, bad play calls, etc.) but with as vanilla as the Utah offense is, they were able to move the ball consistently. They also realized that passing wasn’t going to be a good deal for them on Saturday, so they looked to the run game.  They only threw 4 passes in their last five drives, and missed it on short run plays three times.  That is a testament to not just our defense for turning them away, but for Utah’s understanding of what gave them the best chance to win. They had the lead and they needed to burn clock.

Our coaches continues to throw, even in a game that was under 2 scores difference at any point in the game.  Our second drive of the game we got 34 yards on two rushes and then passed twice and killed the drive. Our third drive we got 4 yards on our first run, and then passed twice and threw a pick. Our fourth drive we ran for 28 yards in our first two plays and then passed twice to end the drive.  Worse yet, had we ran even one of those we would have gone into the second quarter before having to snap for a punt (assuming we don’t get a first down running) and hopefully avoid the safety off of the bad punt snap.

Not only that, but we are becoming obvious.  We passed on every single 2nd down of longer than 4 yards except one.  That is a pretty predictable pattern.  It was like clockwork, and the only time we didn’t was when we passed on first down and got an incomplete pass in the first quarter.

At this point, I feel like we have yet to see improvement from our receivers or our QB’s.  in the last two seasons.  I am not sure if it is just a talent thing or coaching.  Coach McGiven has had to use 10 different starting QB’s in his last 3 years. That is over 3 a year, which is scary. Is it the offense?  Bad luck?  Regardless, the part of this team that will impede its growth is the offensive line, the QB play and the defensive line. Those three positions have had the most struggles this year, but two are getting better.  The offensive line played a far tougher defensive front this week than Cal was and it showed, but they were still more than good enough to win the game.  The defensive line is getting better and better, but still has some work to do. This Utah team was very injured on their offensive line, but still had two legitimate NFL prospects that played. So it was a tougher task.

Quarterback looked like the roughest position on the field for both teams, and in the case of Utah, I have to say it was because of our defense.  In the case of us, watching passes to nobody, dropped balls and lack of separation by our receivers leads me to believe that there are still some serious issues to deal with. And that is not unexpected.

It is fine to be critical, because I am not sure that all the coaches are doing as well as their peers.  Maybe we just need better players, because development isn’t as strong in those spots.  I have no idea, but if you look back at the top of this report, I never expected it to be great. We knew coming into this game and this year that we were going to struggle.  We wanted improvement, well we got it.  And now we are starting to narrow down the parts that don’t work well.  Will we overcome those?  Maybe not this year.  But the focus of what OSU needs to do is pretty clear.  Improve on the lines, at QB and at Receiver.  Do that, and you may see OSU start to pull through on these games and win more than they lose. This is year two and it was going to be a little ugly.  We all knew it.  But now that we see good parts the parts that still need work stand out that much more.  It is frustrating, but it is also exciting to see the progress and realize a few pieces will make a huge difference!

The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Excellence
This week, I feel like this needs to go to Caleb Saulo.  Caleb was all of the field and made some huge plays.  He also played so aggressively that he literally made some Utes quit on a few plays.  His sack was huge and came at a huge time and he seemed to be all over the ball carrier all game long.  I really feel like the linebackers came alive this week and made the biggest leap of any part of the team.  Saulo was a key component of that and showed a lot of leadership for the Beavers.

The Jujifruit Award of Improvement
While there have been a lot of players improving, I have to go with Marcus McMariyon.  To come off the bench and pass better than anyone all game en route to a quick TD strike was impressive.  Marcus gave OSU hope in a game that looked to be out of reach at a 19-7 deficit and an anemic offense. Marcus came in and lit it up through the air culminating in a TD pass to Hunter Jarmon late in the game. While they couldn’t complete the comeback, Marcus showed that he can come in and get points when needed.  With the injuries to Garretson and Blount, we will need him to show that a lot in the next few weeks.

The Good ‘N Plenty Award of Shame
To me, this is pretty easy this week.  It is obviously TV timeouts.  While last week was specific to the Pac-12, this week it is at all of TV. I understand that they need to make their advertising money.  The problem is as that model dies, and in the case of many P12 games, the audience will never be there to garner the big money because most of the country is asleep. This last week, we had Ohio State and Wisconsin playing at 5pm PST.  That game took all eyes off of any P12 game that wasn’t those fans or P12 supporters.  So what is the benefit of TV TImeouts?  In the case of the P12network, how many of those breaks are just for P12 content?  Is that effective use of advertising space? Is there more value to constantly stopping the game or having one big break at the end of each quarter.

We are in the era of smart phones and Red Zone TV.  We are no longer a captive audience but a mobile and sporadic one.  Rarely do we watch games in completion without doing something else or flipping channels for another game because there are so many available.  The worst part is the effect it has to live games. it is hard to build momentum if you have a commercial break during a play review and then again one play later after a punt.

For me, there has to be a better option for a dying model.  Superimposed logos, PIP adds in the corner of the screen. frequent sponsorship call outs, or even just higher rates for fewer slots. While I love that all the games are on TV, it feels like the live version of the game suffers, as does the play on the field. Which destroys the product.  The product should be protected at all costs, and the flow of games can cut down on overall time and appeal to more patrons. If Football could be narrowed down to a 2.5 hour event instead of a 3.5 hour one, it might be able to take the next step in popularity.

As it is, we have a model where games are getting longer, play is interrupted and fans are choosing to watch other games or something else entirely during the big lapses, and are missing the game.  Boo that for sure.

What do you guys think?

 

Go Beavs (PRO)

 

 

The Official Candy Report: Cal

“That was fun!”

Those were the words spoke throughout Reser Stadium on Saturday.  They were spoken in the stands, in the student section, in the club seats, in the suites, on the field and by the coaches.  Winning is fun, and it is about time OSU got in on said festivities.  While idiots like me predicted more doom and gloom for Saturday, the players and coaches prepared as if they were assured a win.  They crated a game plan they were confident in, they practiced that plan and then went out and executed like a team that was 4-0 going for another win, not a team that hadn’t scored an offensive TD in 5 quarters.

The Beavers came out and did what we all hoped.  They showed progress, showed resolve and never quit.  Cal is not an amazing team, but they are not terrible.  They do a lot of great things on offense and have one of the best passing attacks in the country.  Oregon State set about stopping that passing attack while also committing to testing the weak rush defense of the Bears. The plan was perfect, mostly because the matchups were in the Beavers’ favor.  There are very few, if any, corners playing at a higher level then Treston Decoud right now in the Pac-12.  Cal had passed for 2,100 yards leading into the game, averaging over 400 yards per game through the air. Their number one receiver, Chad Hanson, had over 740 yards receiving.

No problem.

Decoud was like a fantastic orange backpack on Hanson all game long, knocking down passes, attacking him with his hands and staying step for step with the future Biletnikoff watch list receiver. Held to just 12 yards on 4 receptions, Hanson struggled to get free from the blanket coverage of Decoud.  The rest of the Beaver pass defense was pretty dang good too, holding Cal to just 124 yards for the game.

Not to be outdone, the offense came to play, especially Ryan Nall and the offensive line.  Cal’s defensive line and linebackers were on ‘skates’ all day long as OSU just manhandled them up front, allow Nall to forced smaller corners and safeties to try and bring him down.  Two huge runs and a bunch of broken hearts along the way excited Beaver fans and demoralized the Cal defense. Nall was a force, putting up gaudy numbers with 14 carries for 221 yards. While he as the showcase, Darrell Garretson made a huge impact with his feet as well, with the game winning TD in overtime to go with over 100 yards rushing.

Ultimately it was a long overdue win for the Beavers, a conference win to boot and something that should give them confidence and hope for the next few weeks. As Beaver fans we should be more than used to slow starts that turn into strong finishes. I am not saying that OSU is going to win seven games this year, but I am saying that they can be confident that the work and prep they are doing is going to put them in position to win if they can execute.

Mostly though, for a few days at least (though hopefully many more) they are winners. That has not been something they have always been able to say. Heck, not everyone in their own state can say the same thing today.

Go Beavers!

The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Amazingness
I cannot just give this to Nall, though he certainly deserves it.  I have to throw in Decoud as well because the two of them  showed up so huge for OSU that we need co-winners.  Nall showed that he can be a big time back in this conference and Decoud showed that you better throw to the other side of the field because you are not going to like the results to his side.

I am so proud of the whole team, but those two really stood out both in stats and in the way they influenced the game. Well deserved for both of you!

The Jujifruit Award of Improvement
This goes to the offensive line.  In my weekly report for Scout, they have never graded above a D. They will this week. They took it to Cal’s defense and while Cal had some head scratching defensive decisions, the Beavers dominated them at every point.  There were great plays by all of them, whether it was Andrews turning a defender on his side to create a huge hole, or Lavaka and Stanton driving their defenders wherever they wanted, the Beavers dominated the line of scrimmage. Brandel and Harlow gave the Beavs their best tackle performance all year.  The biggest thing to me was they looked like a unit. Not just a few good plays with a few breakdowns, but like a 5 headed hydra attacking as one.

Great work!

The Good N Plenty Award of Crappiness
What the heck Pac-12 Network?  The B1G Network has games available for streaming the moment they are done.  So does the SEC network. Same for the Longhorn.  But for some reason, the Pac-12 not only is forcing regional coverage for its viewers (I assume because local advertising has to pick up the slack for their lack of national interest) but the fact that they are so lazy in providing their content.  Your whole purpose as a network is to allow fans the ability to watch games.  That is it.  Being gatekeepers of content and metering it out slowly just lessens your impact.

Not only that, if you are going to truncate games to fit them in your time slots (not your 60min format, which is amazing and you deserve kudos for), DON’T GET RID OF FOOTBALL PLAYS!  Get rid of the extra fluff, get rid of reviews except for the result. Get rid of time outs, of stupid network talk and graphics.  And most importantly, GET RID OF YOUR OWN COMMERCIALS!  I don’t need 10 ads per break about Pac12 content I already know is there.  I am actually on your app or your website.  It is all there for me to see.  If you want to add breaks, just remind people they are on the P12 network and have a graphic of upcoming games.

Many already feel that the Pac12 has weak leadership, but the managing of the Network has been the worst. Just provide steaming games at will and throw national advertising like State Farm and whoever else advertises with you as forced watching for a few second.  But having a few replays hearkens to a model of TV Viewership that existed before streaming. You have the games, just keep them up there, all the time, to view. Forcing people to watch games at specific times is counter intuitive to the concept of streaming.

Boo P12 Network.

The Official Candy Report: Colorado

So it is Wednesday and I am a day late.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say after the game in Colorado.  Sure, there was a lot wrong that we have all munched on and spit out across the internet and water coolers of Oregon businesses.  it is a difficult time for Beaver fans because the reality of a giant rebuild really sucks.  We keep looking for faith builders but are faced each and every Saturday with a reality of how far we have to go.

Not to take anything away from Colorado, they are a good team, but OSU had some moments where you realize that while a win was not in the cards, competitive play could have been. The thing with team sports is that you can get blown out when just four of the 11 people on each side of the ball are outmatched.  Or even 3. Sometimes even 1. But that doesn’t mean that good things are not also happening and that players are not playing well.  I think Art Pierce is going to be a running back that teams are going to have to scheme against in a way we have not seen since the days of Simonton and Bernard.  I think that Seth Collins is a fiery talent that really has filled the role of reliable receiver with his exceptional hands.  There are pieces that are showing they belong in this conference and are going to make names for themselves.

I was also impressed with how well Gus Lavaka did in his first game of extended playing time.  Gus was solid for most of the game, is a load to move for defenders and did a great job just doing the right things and being in position. He had his bad moments, and Colorado’s rush was not exceptional, but he gave me hope for the future. I also felt like we found Dustin Stanton’s home at guard.  He did very well on double teams, on second level blocking and he didn’t have to deal with speed rushes that have been hurting him this year.  I feel like he is going to end up having a good year for us.

There were obviously a ton of bad moments, and the Beavers are a long way from that feeling that any week can be a win.  But there are pieces that are starting to appear that give my hope some signs of life.  I don’t think we win this week, and my score prediction for Scout this week was more a weariness at being negative than an objective opinion on he game. But I am seeing sparks here and there and I am hoping that some of them catch fire and take the Beavers to new heights.

The Halloween Spice Drop Award of Excellence:
I honestly don’t know that anyone was excellent this week.  Pobreski is the closest but I have a special award I am working on for him.  So for the first time in the 11 years of Candy Reports (yes, it has been that long) I am going to give this award to someone other than a Beaver player.  I am giving it to Washington State.  Honestly, that was amazing.  Not only do they give all of the card carrying, vagina sign flashing bandwagon fans from Eugene a collective cup check, but they did it in the most embarrassing way.  A team that has finished last in rushing yards and rushing points in the NCAA the last two years rushed for nearly 300 yards and 6 TDs against them.  That is awesome!

The Jujifruit Award of Getting Better All The Time:
I want to again throw out some love to Gus Lavaka for his work in his first game, but I really have to give this to Art Pierce.  His running style is fast, with great vision, aggressive moves and power all blended into one.  Everything he does feels decisive and like he was shot out of a cannon. As a former offensive lineman myself, I really respond well to runners like Pierce who cuts off blocks well, sees the hole and keeps me from having to block forever.  I think Pierce will end up being an amazing back for OSU.  With our line struggles, I think of how well he will do as we improve up front.  Pierce gained over 7 yards per carry against the Buffaloes and was really the brightest star on offense for our team.

The Good ‘N Plenty Award of Shame:
I really have no idea who this should go to. Ducks lost badly, I didn’t see a lot of crazy bad calls from refs, ESPN has been largely removed from my life.  So what is there to complain about?  I guess nothing.  I am sure this next week will disappoint me in some way, but right now I am drawing a blank.

EXCEPT fro CRAZY MACHETE guy at Colorado.  That was a weird, weird event and something that is sad on many levels.

Other than that, I got nothin’.

 

GO BEAVS (PRO)

The Official Candy Report: Boise State

Currently, there appears to be two different perceptions of OSU football that on the surface appear to be mutually exclusive, but really are not.  The game against Boise State is, in my mind, the perfect indicator of the reality of OSU Football.

The First Half/This Season
The first half of the game was an unmitigated disaster.  It was marked with horrible blocking, tackling and basically an example of one team pushing another team around in almost every aspect of the game.  Except Special Teams, which I will talk about later. Boise State was able to run at will and pass at will and in most cases, never really felt any kind of struggle put forth by the Beavers.  Oregon State looked like a team that was undermanned and out coached for 2 quarters.

This team might have to deal with that again, every game, the rest of the season. Perennial door mats like Colorado are showing that they are much improved.  Team that looked like they might be in rebuild mode like Cal are showing they are far tougher than they were given credit. At least on offense.  Most of the conference has an identity of who they are now.  At least the teams outside the state of Oregon.

When the final snap of the first half ended, i saw no reason to hope that OSU would win again this year. I am not trying to be negative, but I am trying to be realistic as I have been the last year or two. When people talk about a rebuild they give it lip service.  I think most people talk rebuilds but just assume that it is like rebuilding a fence where you can see progress board by board as the season goes on until at the end you are amazing. That 18 months should be long enough to see more improvement, or at least steady gains.  Others will look at 18 months and say “18 months is nothing, it took Colorado 4 years to make noise under McIntyre!”.

I don’t think that football works that way.  Bring on the second half.

The Second Half/The Future
What changed?  What flip was switched? Did we call better plays or just execute the plays we called better?  Did the line start blocking better or did we just call plays that minimized their impact?  Did our defense all the sudden become stout or did BSU let off the gas a bit?  Probably all of the above.  We replaced a QB  with another one and we saw some good and some bad, but what happened was players started making some plays, coaches started calling plays that highlighted these guys that were making plays, the staff found new trust in a new arm to make the plays and Boise State played like a team that was up by 24 points at half and had a 400 yard advantage in yards.

We saw Blount, Collins, Bolden, Jr., Ugwoebgu, Decoud and many more step up their games and make plays, we saw the defense call more aggressive blitzes, we saw our QB complete some passes and our receivers make some amazing catches. Same team’s, same coaches, same game even, different results.  That is the future.  It is not always incremental in nature.  OSU will fit the vision of this staff when they have coaches calling plays that work because players can make those plays.  That could be next game, next year or three years from now.  You can make some predictions based on recruiting as to when OSU will be in the best position to make these gains, but ultimately it will happen when coaches call plays and players execute them. Victor Bolden, Jr.  has answered the call, so has Seth Collins and Treston Decoud. We have legit players on the team right now that are showing what they can do.

But much like this game, some of our future is not just about us.  That is a popular sentiment, but if it was just about us Coach Anderson wouldn’t care about BSU or Ohio State being on our schedule.  What we are seeing is a team that is, by choice, rebuilding to the highest degree and that means we have no guarantees so we need to schedule recruiting wins because the teams around us are not getting worse.  Except for the ducks. We need to recruit and develop and coach better than all of our opponents.  People may point to Gary Andersen’s past and say he can do that here, but lets look at his time here.  What he has been doing hasn’t worked yet.  Every year the magic he had at Utah State and the great management of an already good team he did in Wisconsin is getting in the rear view mirror.

We don’t know when or if the switch will turn on like the second half of the BSU game.  Will it be in Colorado on Saturday?  Will it be against the ducks in the Civil War (I hope so!) or will it be two years from now when the first full class under Andersen is at its statistical peak?  We don’t know and we may never know.  The comparison to Colorado is not a good one because they didn’t just flip a switch this year. Last year they had injuries decimate their team and played with a few players that had no business being on the field because of injuries. The step this year from last year was not a huge one, but it started with that first class of McIntyre’s getting time to build up.

So lets not be shocked that people are critical of the program.  It hasn’t done well. Lets not be shocked that even in being critical there is a lot of hope in a coaching staff that has proven they can win in other places. Those are not mutually exclusive concepts. Lets also not be overly critical of the people that don’t see a Rose-y future for this program because there are not a lot of positives to pull right now from Andersen’s work here.

Ultimately, just like this last game, we have not seen Andersen’s best foot forward, but we have seen some glimmers here and there that point to something happening.  This year could end up 1-11, we are not guaranteed anything. It could also turn into a 5 win season. Who knows?  But we are not going to get a stair step improvement, at least not likely to. Most likely we are going to see a big jump and then a bigger jump after that if that class stays in tact. So we need to be prepared for that.  I never saw the second half of the BSU game coming from that team.  I don’t think I can accurately predict the next two seasons either.

THE HALLOWEEN SPICE DROP AWARD OF AMAZINGNESS:
I don’t like to do repeat weeks for awards, but this week I have to go with Victor Bolden, Jr once again.  I have a pretty hard and fast rule that anyone who is a part of a play over 90 yards makes the cut.  Anyone that is responsible for for 160 yards or more in special teams is also considered a big winner.  Mostly, I just feel like Victor has been the player that best exemplifies the vision of what this program wants to be the most.  He is playing at a high level, making the most of his opportunities and starting to show the confidence to score at any time on any place on the field.  Any play that doesn’t at least give a nod to Victor in some way feels like a waste. There are other players out there that are playing well, but Victor is special and for the first time in his career, i feel like he has the confidence to match his results with his potential.

If he wins it next week, it will be because he elevated his game to a whole new level, but when he is directly or indirectly responsible for over half our points, I have to give him props!

JUJIFRUIT AWARD OF PROGRESS:
I have really been impressed with the progress of Seth Collins. Before this blog becomes a wide receiver love fest, I think that we need to point out progress where it lies. I would like to see him be more consistent on his blocking, but that huge catch in the second half was a thing of beauty. He caught it at its peak while falling down and honestly, was covered very well. Had that ball been an inch lower or had his jump been a little late, it would have probably been intercepted or dropped. Instead it was a huge play to keep building confidence in their young first time starter at QB.

He has been catching everything thrown his way and has really been one of the few consistent contributors on offense. So this week I give Seth an award for improvement because he definitely has taken to his new role and improved each and every week.

GOOD N PLENTY AWARD OF SHAME:
After last week’s great perfect weekend, this week had a lot to live up to.  Unfortunately, there was one really glaring hole in the world of College Football this week, and that is duck fans.  Living in Eugene, I have had the privilege of meeting some very cool and classy duck fans and members of the duck athletic department.  I also have had the miss fortune of meeting everyone else.  What is happening at oregon is something that can seep over to other programs and is killing the sport a bit.

And it is lack of context.

I have been getting backlash for predicting the demise of the ducks the last two years.  While I have been fairly clear that I think they have the talent to win 7 games every year, I have seen the signs of rebuilding for a few years now.  I believe a certain visor wearing ex-coach saw this as well and couldn’t wait to leave, with NCAA sanctions in tow. Imagine last year’s team without Vernon Adams.  That team loses to ASU, Cal, USC and probably to us.  And it then robs us of watching the amazing Alamo Bowl.  This year, we are seeing more patch work trying to hide the reality.

The ducks are rebuilding and they have been since 2013.  The problem is that with the success and marketing around the program, they attracted a lot of talented players, but not all of them fit the mold of what they wanted. In an era aided by USC sanctions and terrible coaching in the conference (Wulff, Willingham, Neuheisel, Stoops, etc…) the best show in town was the ducks and they took full advantage of it.  But along the way they cut corners in recruiting and masked deficiencies with a trendy offense.  As the USC came off sanctions and other teams upgraded their own coaching situations, the ducks found that they not only had to cut ties with some talented players who had the Lyles taint to them, but they also lost some players who came there looking to start and found a poor fit.  So from 2012 – 2015, they basically lost a good chunk of their talent through attrition, graduation, early declaring and injury.  Last year they had two one and done transfer in Adams and their center. This slightly covered up the fact that they only had 7 offensive linemen recruited in the previous four years and a few of them moved to defense.

So this has been coming. Marcus Mariotta extended their reign at the top a bit because he was so dang good, but this duck team, and much of last season, is not a surprise to me. Nor is it I would imagine for the duck coaches.  You can tell by their recruiting (Helfritch’s first full year recruiting drew 5 offensive linemen alone.)  The problem is the duck machine, the marketing out of Nike and the whole culture here in Eugene cannot handle that. They cannot be told that they need to reset a bit and to be patient.  They are too busy making a spectacle of themselves.  Note how Brady Hoke quickly backpedaled on his assessment of the defense after their final scrimmage, only to now look like he was lying based on how they are playing. He was right in what the said and saw in the scrimmage, but the duck machine couldn’t allow that.   Or how new sports reporters finding their way on local TV shows that say the ducks might not win another home game are met with shocked and appalled expressions by their co-hosts.

I don’t know how this season will turn out for them, but right now it looks bad. And had Oregon allowed itself to be more than a marketing slogan, they would have been prepared. Now they are in a place where they may fire good coaches, who are doing exactly what they have done for a decade, because the perception is wrong.  The narrative is false and the duck media is lying.

Jerks.

 

 

 

What does this game mean?

For many in Beaver Nation, the memories of games against Boise State range from excitement of a nail biter in Reser in 2005, a blow out in Idaho the next year or redemption for 2 straight series losses in 2013’s Hawai’i Bowl game. While there have been a lot of changes in coaching and culture for both teams starting with that 2013 game, this year’s game is actually extremely important for both teams.

For the Broncos, their Fiesta Bowl win two years ago is feeling farther and farther away after two tough home losses last year and a feeling that Boise State is not trending up but rather down.  A win over WSU earlier this year was a big deal for Boise State, but a loss to Oregon State would be a huge blow to this team and their post season plans.  Non “Power 5” conference teams tend to have a lot of issues building a quality resume for post season play if they have losses to actual “Power 5” conference teams.  Especially ones that are not viewed as elite like the Beavers and the Cougars.

You also have to factor in the memory of last year’s Utah State game.  Coach Clune was on the sidelines for Utah State as they rode 7 first half turnovers to route the Broncos in Boise. Just like the Minnesota coaches remembered their times playing against Coach Andersen when he was in Wisconsin, I am sure many on this offense remember being taken apart by Clune’s USU defense. They will be ready!

For the Beavers, every win is as precious as gold to them.  Currently at 1-1, the Beavers need this win not only to guarantee that they finish as well or better than last year, but also to get a quality win over a quality opponent.  Boise State has a great offense and great defense that will play tough and get after the Beavers.  A win here would do wonders for the psyche of the team but also help them prepare for what looks like a very tough trip to Colorado the following week.

More importantly, a win this week gives them a streak and adds strength behinds the words of the coaching staff. It would quite the grumbling of the fans for a week and would send a message that respecting the process needs to happen when things are tough as well as when they go well.  I have turned my picks in for BeaverBlitz.com and they are not flattering.  I need to be wrong on this. I need to be underestimating this team.  I have no qualms eating crow in this case, and for Oregon State to win they will need to show that they can be consistent passing and running the ball.  They will need to show that they can stop the run and defend the pass.  They will need to turn those Run/Pass option plays into winners bay making the three options on those plays effective and by forcing the defense to choose the bigger threat. They need to show they can get pressure on a passer and make big plays on defense against better competition than Idaho State.

Ultimately, the Beavers need this win because 1-2 going into conference play in the strongest division of the Pac12 leaves wins off the table and forces the Beavers to do something they haven’t done in 20 conference games.  Win.

This is the most important game of the season and it is not even close.  At least until next week when the trip to Boulder will be the new most important game of the season.

GO BEAVS (PRO)

Burpees Beat Cancer - Michael Aliotti

Burpees Beat Cancer

A good friend of mine with a familiar last name, Michael Aliotti, is trying to set the record for burpees in a 12 hour period.  The record is 6,800 and he is on pace to break that by about 400. Despite his family ties to the ducks, Michael is an amazing man and a great friend and his quest for the record is also a quest to help fund Cancer Research. As someone that has seen cancer ravage members of his his own family, I jumped at the chance to help out Michael in this endeavor.

His attempt to reach today the record is live here:

https://renafitness.com/

And his website for donations is here:

https://www.burpeesbeatcancer.com/

Anyway, for those of you that have done many burpees, you can probably understand that 7,200 in a day is a big deal.  Thanks in advance for not punching me in the face when you see me for having a good friend who is also a duck coach legacy.