What to do at OSU, where the Beavers may not win again this season

What to do at OSU, where the Beavers may not win again this season

The first thing Oregon State must do after that 48-14 loss to Minnesota is probably the hardest thing -- stay the course. Stay together. Things are going to get worse before they get better. And the worst thing that could happen is for the team to split apart.

Things are obviously not going the way the Beavers thought they would and I would expect some players aren't as talented or reliable as the coaching staff thought they'd be. Coach Gary Andersen's mission the rest of the way will be to find players he can depend on -- the ones who won't quit on him. This thing could get real ugly during conference play and the main thing is to keep working. I still believe Andersen will get the job done at OSU -- but nobody ever said it was going to be easy (except the dolts who thought firing Mike Riley would immediately turn the Beavers into conference champions.)

The Beavers have to come together and keep working. Cliche? Of course. But truth. There's no other choice. The conference isn't going to allow them to call their season off or ask for a do-over.

But let me mention one other thing: People are calling out their defense and certainly, there are problems on that side of the ball. But rest assured, there are offensive problems, too.

In today's high-octane version of college football, it's impossible for defenses to hold up very long when the offense isn't moving the football. Oregon State got one first down in the second half Saturday, along with just 67 yards of total offense. For the game, the Beavers -- who thought they had a solid running game this season -- rushed for just 80 yards. That's terrible.

And when your defense is shaky, you cannot afford to have the offense grind to a halt. Their defense played well enough in the first half -- when the offense gave it a chance, The second half looked like a complete defensive surrender -- but I'd make the case that the offensive inefficiency led directly to it.

This is also a team making all sorts of mistakes -- fumbles, interceptions, blown blocking assignments and missed tackles. And fair-catching a punt at the three-yard line set the Beavers up for second-half trouble, too. The mental mistakes must stop.

Those things must be dealt with. The overall goal now is a simple one -- improve with each game.

Winning games is going to likely be a big problem the rest of the season. Losing can quickly become a disease that rots the core of a team.

The Beavers must not let this thing blow up.

Hard times ahead for Beaver fans

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© James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Hard times ahead for Beaver fans

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After seeing the strong close to the 2016 campaign by the young Oregon State Beavers, I’m sure the fan base had the mindset that they’d be in store for a big year. By that I mean a bowl bid and possibly an upset.

Let’s cut to the chase; it’s not happening.

Gary Andersen is in his third year as the head coach and I’m typically a fan of giving coaches four years, but it may be time to cut bait after this season. They were blown out again by Washington State, sound familiar? To make matters worse, starting quarterback Jake Luton exited Saturday’s game with a thoracic spine fracture. That doesn’t bode well for an offense that isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard.

The team simply doesn’t have any fight. On their putrid offense, they rank 93rd in points per game and 100th in yards per game. The running game was thought to be a strength the offense with junior running back Ryan Nall, however, they currently sit at 106th nationally. Ranking 71st isn’t bad when you examine their passing attack. On the contrary, when you take into account that they’re typically playing from behind defenses are playing soft coverages allowing for easy completions and yardage.

There’s not much to enjoy when looking at their defense either. They rank 106th or worse in points, passing, and rushing yards allowed per game. Essentially every major category defensively. If you exclude their game against FCS opponent Portland State, they’ve been outscored by a whooping 94 points! I’m no math major, but that doesn’t sound like a team that’s competing.

They’ll host Washington this upcoming Saturday before heading to the coliseum to face the USC Trojans. Not exactly an ideal schedule for a team that’s struggling. I expect both teams to roll against the Beavers.

Beavers no match for P.J. Fleck and Co.

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Beavers no match for P.J. Fleck and Co.

Oregon State started this game trailing 17-0, but clawed back to make to it just a six point game at halftime, 20-14. However, P.J. Fleck made sure that was the closest the Beavers would get to his Golden Gophers, outscoring OSU in the second half 28-0.  Now the Beavers head on the road to start Pac-12 play. Where do the Beavers go from here?  We will find out next Saturday in Pullman.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon State 14 – Minnesota 48

RAPID REACTION:

Best team on the field Saturday in Corvallis? Portland State!

Best team on the field Saturday in Corvallis? Portland State!

The Oregon State Beavers needed a win in the worst way Saturday against FCS Portland State. And that's just about what they got -- a win in the worst way.

Let me first say, OSU's drive to take the lead that culminated in a touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining in the game was a big thing for the Beavers. They came through in a tough spot and took control, if momentarily, of the game.

But let me also say, the Beavers didn't beat the Vikings. The Vikings beat the Vikings. Portland State was the better team in Reser Stadium Saturday and I know that's a very painful thing for Beaver fans to understand. But you can pick just about any category on the final stat sheet and PSU had the edge. But even more than that, consider that PSU lost its starting quarterback in the fourth quarter and still marched for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:43 to go in the game. And, oh yes, the Vikings couldn't covert PAT kicks or a field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. But for a kicker, this game belonged to Portland State.

And one other very big thing -- Portland State failed on a fourth-and-goal in the first half after an incomplete pass in the end zone. There was pass interference on that play -- even the Pac-12 network announcers saw it that way -- and it wasn't called.

I expected the Vikings to give the Beavers a game but I certainly didn't expect them to dominate Oregon State. The Vikings rushed for 291 yards while holding OSU to 154 on the ground. And this was supposed to be a Beaver team with a serious ground attack. And Portland State is supposed to be a team that will finish eighth or ninth in the Big Sky Conference. I think the Viks are obviously much better than that, by the way.

But what are we to make of the Beavers?

Well, so far, not much. But it's way too early to give up on them. Gary Andersen is a good coach and I think his team is talented enough to make something of a turnaround. But I'm not sure it will be enough to avoid a disastrous won-lost record. If a Big Sky team can run on them, I'd expect every team in the Pac-12 will run them into the ground. Oregon State would probably be better off to get to a ball-control offense and keep its defense off the field as much as possible.

On the defensive side of the ball, think last year's Oregon team. It could be even worse than that, if possible.

The Beavers can rejoice all they want over that win over Portland State. But in reality, there wasn't much to celebrate.

 

Beavers grab win over PSU, but it wasn't pretty

Beavers grab win over PSU, but it wasn't pretty

Corvallis, Ore. – The Oregon State Beavers played host to the Portland State Vikings on Saturday, and for much of the game it was hard to tell which team was from the FBS and which team was from the FCS. Were the Vikings playing that good, or were the Beavers playing that bad? It didn’t really matter. In the end, the scoreboard said it was a win for the Beavers, but it sure didn’t feel like it.

Portland State wasted little time showing Beaver Nation that they come to play. Just a minute into the game the Viking found the end zone, and held the 6-0 lead following a missed PAT.

OSU would answer back, and would take a 14-6 lead into the locker room at halftime, but there was little doubt that Portland State had dominated the half. In fact, if not for some poor ball control and unforced fumbles, the Vikings may have had a two score lead at halftime.

Oregon State looked better in the second half, but it still felt like the Vikings were the better team. PSU tore the Beavers apart on the ground, rushing for nearly 300 yards, to go with 224 through the air. 

Portland State had more first downs, more rushing yards, more passing yards, fewer punts, and held the ball longer than the Beavers, but none of those stats matter. The only one that means anything is the final score, and on Saturday it was just about the only stat in favor of Oregon State.

Following the tough loss against Colorado State, Beaver Nation was still semi-optimistic. The loss felt more like a bad speed bump to start the season, rather than a sign of things to come. Following the struggle against the Vikings, all optimism is lost.

Starting running back Ryan Nall said in his post press conference, “a win is a win.” I find it hard to believe he truly feels that way.

The offense is not running the ball nearly as well as they thought. Nall, a pre-season All-Pac-12-Conference selection managed just 59-yards on 16 carries. The much hyped Thomas Tyner: Just 10-yards and two carries.  Overall, the team had 154-yards on 32 carries. Not the offensive running machine we thought we would see this fall.

But the offense is the least of the worries for the Beavers. If they hope to beat teams in the Pac-12 they have got to fix their issues on defense. For two straight weeks the Beavers have let teams run on them at will. Colorado State had 191-yards and three touchdowns against the Beavers. The following week against Colorado they managed just 88-yards and no scores.

How about the Vikings? They had just 86-yards rushing and no scores last week against BYU. This week they had 291-yards and three touchdowns.  If mediocre rush offenses look unstoppable against the Beavers, just imagine what good rushing teams like Stanford, Oregon, Washington, or USC will do to the Beavers? On second thought, if you’re a Beaver fan, don’t imagine that. It is the things nightmares are made of.

Year three was supposed to be the big leap for Gary Andersen and company. It was supposed to be the year Oregon State finally got over the hump and ended their streak of seasons without a bowl game. It was supposed to be the start of something big. Instead, it feels like the same old song and dance.

As coach Andersen said in this post game press conference, “we’re definitely a work in progress.” Hopefully we eventually get to see it.

 

The Beavers should have opened the season at home vs. Hicktown State

The Beavers should have opened the season at home vs. Hicktown State

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this but a few things have to be said after Oregon State's humiliating 58-27 defeat at Colorado State Saturday afternoon:

  • I thought the Beavers were past this sort of thing. In Gary Andersen's third season, I expected Oregon State to have reached a level of toughness that would have prohibited such a disastrous loss. Andersen himself called it "embarrassing."
  • The Beavers were outscored 34-7 in the second half but worse, they were manhandled -- pushed all over the field. That should not happen to a Pac-12 team playing a Mountain West team. Losing is one thing -- being bullied is quite another.
  • Andersen fell on his sword, as coaches so often do. "We can all call it what we want," he said. "Yeah, it was a close game at the half, turnovers, blah blah blah. … when you have a team do what they did to us … we couldn't answer the bell in the second half. I'm not saying it's anybody else's fault but mine. I'll put it right on me."
  • The Beavers got punched in the mouth and didn't respond. That's not good.
  • Oregon State comes home to play host to Portland State in its next game as the Vikings, who were solid in a 20-6 loss at BYU Saturday, continue their season-opening, million-dollar march to finance their program with games out of their weight class. But OSU better be careful -- the Vikings won't give up in the second half. They won't quit. And after watching both teams Saturday, I had to wonder if Portland State is the more physical -- and more disciplined -- of the two teams.
  • I cannot imagine a worse way for the Beavers to open the season. And I can't really understand why the game was scheduled in the first place. Season-openers are for home games against Hicktown State,  not teams on the rise playing inaugural games in new stadiums.
  • I suspect the Beavers will get it together this week. But I don't expect much of a season from them. The schedule now says a sub-.500 season and no bowl trip. Oh well.

 

Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

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Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

There are a few reasons for optimism following the first game of the Beavers season.  However, grabbing a big early season win isn’t one of them.  The Beavers came into Fort Collins as underdogs, but many felt they had what it takes to pull the upset.

That looked to be the case early on, as the Beavers were the first team to get on the scoreboard. A big strike through the air from new quarterback Jake Luton to Timmy Hernandez gave OSU the 7-0 early in the first quarter.

For much of the first half it was a well played, back-and-forth matchup, but one arguable call in the final seconds of the first half would permanently shift the momentum in favor of the Rams.

Colorado scored a touchdown to take the 24-17 lead with just 1:19 left in the half. With the clock ticking away Oregon State started to march down the field putting together a near perfect two-minute drill.

With 13 seconds on the clock, and the ball on the CSU 7-yard-line, the Beavers had time for one more play. Luton took the snap, scrambled under pressure, side armed a pass around the defense, and found the outstretched arms of a diving Noah Togiai for the tying score. Or did he?

The ruling on the field was incomplete, but was sent upstairs for video review.  It looked as if Togiai had control of the ball, with a knee inbounds, as he fell out of play. Every replay they showed looked like a touchdown. Twitter thought it was a touchdown. Television announcers thought it was a touchdown. I thought it was touchdown. But when the review was finished the referees stayed with their original call of an incomplete pass.

Oregon State settled for a field goal and headed to the locker room trailing 24-20, rather than knotted up at 24.

That play seemed to take the wind out of the Beavers sails, and swung the momentum to the home team. The Rams came out and outscored the Beavers 17-0 in the third quarter and never looked back.

The second half seemed to be nothing but a constant replay of a Beavers turnover followed by a Rams score. Interceptions, fumbles, it didn’t matter. CSU found ways to frustrate the Beavers and grind the Oregon State offense to a halt.

The Beavers looked good early, and behind Ryan Nall they had 125 yards on the ground in the first half. In the second half they managed just 30 rushing yards. That is pretty much a quick way to sum up the game for the Beavers.

But it’s not all negative for the Beavers. Despite the high number of interceptions, Jake Luton showed that for the first time since Sean Mannion was on campus, the Beavers might have some semblance of a passing game. Last season the Beavers averaged just 29.4 passing attempts and 174 yards per game. In the loss to the Rams Luton had 27 pass completions on 47 attempts, for 304 yards and two touchdowns.  Sure, he did have three interceptions, but it was still one of the better quarterback performances the Beavers have seen in some time.

The loss leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Beavers fans, but the season is still young. Now all eyes will look to the next opponent: The Portland State Vikings. Anything less than a blowout win for the Beavers and then we may want to sound the horns of concern. As we saw against CSU, the Beavers can shoot themselves in the foot and easily become their own worst enemy. Hopefully next Saturday the Beavers are playing only the Vikings, not the Vikings and themselves.

Final Score in Fort Collins: Colorado State 58 – Oregon State 27

Next Up: The Beavers open up their home schedule against the FCS Portland State Vikings. Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM, Saturday, Sept. 2nd.

 

Ducks, Beavers football questions: What will be their trademark?

Ducks, Beavers football questions: What will be their trademark?

Last week on Talkin' Ball we were fortunate enough to have great interviews with Gary Andersen and Willie Taggart. Yes, on the same show.

They were both very forthcoming about their teams but there was no way we could learn answers to what, for me, are the most pressing questions about Oregon State and Oregon:

What will they look like? How will they, you know, actually play? And we may not really know that until the early season, non-conference games are out of the way.

In the case of the Ducks, it's a new coaching staff with a quarterback who performed well last season as a freshman. Justin Herbert, at times, looked like a pro last year. He has great promise. But how will he be used this season? Taggart has employed a lot of option in the past and will he run Herbert? It's always interesting when a new coaching staff comes in to see how players might be used differently or more effectively than they were by the previous regime.

The Ducks have their usual stable of great running backs and I'd assume, given their shortage of receivers, they'll be run heavy, at least early in the season. But who knows? Herbert can really sling it and those runners will set up some great play-action opportunities.

The same questions are even more relevant with the Beavers. Oregon State will be going with a quarterback, Jake Luton, who is by all accounts a pro-style, big-arm guy who is much different than what Andersen has had at OSU. Will the Beavers open it up more? I'm not sure, because they also have some outstanding running backs capable of controlling games on the ground.

How will these guys play? What will they look like? What will their style be? Will they be gamblers or play it safe? What will they become known for?

It's the most intriguing thing about the upcoming season at both schools.

Will Oregon State end its bowl drought in 2017?

Will Oregon State end its bowl drought in 2017?

The Oregon State Beavers open the 2017 football season on August 26, against Colorado State in Fort Collins. The game will not only mark the start of the season for the Beavers, but will start what could be the Beavers first bowl eligible season since 2013. The hype train is rolling in Corvallis, and many fans are wondering if head coach Gary Andersen finally has this team pointed in the right direction. Vegas oddsmakers have the over/under for the Beavers set at 5.5 wins. If I were a betting man, I would take the over. There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic if you are a Beavers fan. Will the Beavers go bowling this season? Here are five reasons I think they will:

2) In Jake Luton, the Beavers finally have a passing threat -  

Not since Sean Mannion left the program following his senior season in 2014 have the Beavers had a true quarterback behind the center. In the two season since Mannion left the Beavers have seen five different signal callers take a snap: Seth Collins, Marcus McMaryion, Conor Blount, Darell Garretson, and Nick Mitchell. In 2015 and 2016 the Beavers finished 117 and 113 in passing offense respectively. In those two seasons combined the Beavers passed for a total of 3,995 yards and 23 touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Mannion passed for 4,662 yards and 37 touchdowns in just his junior year alone.

The Beavers have had a giant question mark at quarterback, and transfer Jake Luton could be the answer.

It was announced early last week that Luton will be the No.1 quarterback for the Beavers, and with that coach Andersen finally has a quarterback that can get the ball downfield. In 2016, while the quarterback for Ventura CC, Luton passed for a school record 3,551 yards and 40 touchdowns. Luton has the size and the arm to help add the air raid elements that coach Andersen wants in the offense, and may finally be the quarterback that can get the ball to the Beavers playmakers. Tight end Noah Togai has been turning heads early on in camp, catching three touchdown passes in the latest open scrimmage, and can be a huge weapon for Luton. The Beavers also have senior wide receiver Jordan Villamin who is due for a monster year. Villamin has all the intangibles to be one of the best receivers in the conference, but over the past two seasons he hasn’t had someone who could consistently get him the ball. That should change in 2017. Oh yeah, the Beavers also have Seth Collins in the slot, so Luton will have plenty of hands to get to the ball to.

A decent quarterback can be the difference between a four win season and a bowl game, and the Beavers finally have a decent quarterback.

2) The running back stable may be the best in the Pac-12 -

Talk about the rich getting richer. The Beavers had one heck of a backfield heading into 2017. They had returners Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce, who combined for 1,474 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2016, as well as TCU transfer Trevorris Johnson. The backfield was stacked. Then, out of nowhere, the news broke in late May that former Oregon Ducks stud running back Thomas Tyner was coming out of retirement to join the Beavers. Tyner dealt with injuries during his time in Eugene, but when on the field he was a force. In two seasons at Oregon Tyner rushed for 1,284 yards and 14 touchdowns. The four-headed monster of Nall-Tyner-Pierce-Johnson gives the Beavers one of the best backfields in the conference, if not the country.

At this point, and for the foreseeable future, Nall is the starting back. But let’s be real. The Beavers have two legit starting caliber backs, and two others that could start on a lot of teams in the country. They have running backs 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1D. The depth is unreal.

3) The schedule plays out well for the Beavers -

The Beavers do have a gauntlet to run mid-season, a stretch of three games that sees them play Washington State, Washington, and USC in three consecutive weeks. That is followed by tough games against Colorado and Stanford. Outside of that stretch the schedule plays out favorably for the Beavers. They open the season on the road against Colorado State, which is a tough but winnable game for the Beavers. A lot of experts see Colorado State as a team that could sneak into a New Years Six bowl. A win in Fort Collins could set the tone for the season.

Following the Colorado State game the Beavers get Portland State and Minnesota at home. PSU is nearly a certain win, and Minnesota should be as well. The Beavers played a heck of a game against the Gophers last season, and with Minnesota starting out the P.J. Fleck era, a win on the road for the Gophers may be a challenge.

The Beavers also end the season with an incredibly “easy” slate of games: Home against Cal, home against Arizona, on the road at Arizona State, and home against Oregon. Following last season’s Civil War win, fans and players alike have every reason to think the Beavers can beat the Ducks again.

Realistically, the Beavers could go 3-0 in non-conference play, then drop 5 straight in the aforementioned “gauntlet,” then finish the season 4-0. For those keeping track, that is a 7-5 season, and a trip to a bowl game.

4) Year Three of Gary Andersen has a history of success -

Back in 2009 Gary Andersen took over a poor Utah State football team. In fact, calling them a poor football team is an understatement. The Aggies went just 3-9 the season prior the Andersen’s arrival, and hadn’t had a winning season since the team went 6-5 in 1997. From 1998 to 2008 Utah State went a combined 35-90. Then came Andersen.

Andersen’s Aggies went 4-8 in both his first and second season, and then jumped to 7-6 in his third season. In Andersen’s fourth season the Aggies jumped to 11-2, won their first bowl game since 1993, and finished No.16 in the final AP Poll. Andersen’s first two seasons at OSU have largely mirrored his first two at Utah State; there is every reason to think year three will see the same leap it did in Utah. Andersen has a quarterback, a stacked backfield, a young talented defense, and a team that is finally his. Really, after two straight losing seasons, anything less than six wins would be a disappointment for Andersen in year three.

5) The Oregon State defense will be better than people think -

Defensively the Beavers have not been great in recent seasons. Last season the Beavers were 75th in the nation for total yards given up, at 5150, mainly because they just couldn’t stop the run. Oregon State allowed 2616 yards on the ground, which was 101st worst in the nation. However, they balanced that out with a decent pass defense, allowing just 2534 yards through the air, which was the 40th best pass defense in the country. Looking ahead to this season, the Beavers should be even better against the pass, and hopefully improved against the run. The Beavers played a lot of freshman and sophomores in 2016, and that year of experience should pay off this season. The Beavers return impact players such as Brandon Arnold, Jalen Moore, Bright Ugwoegbu, Kammy Delp, Manase Hungalu, Jonathan Willis, Elu Aydon, and Xavier Crawford just to name a few. Of that group, only Arnold and Hungalu are seniors. There is plenty of young talent on this defense to help push the Beavers forward. If the defense can improve against the run, they should be able to help the improved OSU offense win a few more games. ---

The only thing working against the Beavers is that the Pac-12 is stacked with talent. The Beavers have to play at least four teams that could easily win the conference (Washington, WSU, USC, Stanford), and some other teams that may be on the downswing but are by no means pushovers. That being said, Andersen has steered his ship in the right direction, and the Beavers should be more optimistic than ever that this is the year they get over the hump. The only question left to ask - “is it August 26 yet?”

Beavers QB Marcus McMaryion to transfer

Beavers QB Marcus McMaryion to transfer

Quarterback Marcus McMaryion has elected to transfer from Oregon State University. He will be immediately eligible having graduated with a bachelor's degree in public health, and has two years of eligibility remaining. 
 
"After much thought, consideration, and discussion with my family I would like to announce that I am transferring from Oregon State," McMaryion said. "I want to thank the fans of Beaver Nation, the coaching and academic staff, and my teammates for a great three years. As I close this chapter of my life as a graduate, the next chapter awaits. It has been a privilege representing this program on and off the field. For my OSU brothers on the field, remain 11 strong and have a great season."
 
"Marcus has contributed much to our program on and off the field during his time here," head coach Gary Andersen said. "We support him in his decision and wish him well as he continues his career on the field and in his studies."