Unsung Nichols' performance a harbinger?

SO CLOSE. AND HAD the last play of the UW game, a 2-point conversion pass attempt by Ryan Katz to Joe Halahuni, been a completion, things would look and feel opposite of where they stand. That's the difference a win makes. All the shortcomings fade, all the positive plays become magnified. And so it's important to look back after a loss, and to take note on the things that shouldn't be forgotten.

Wide receiver Aaron Nichols' (6-0, 185) performance fits into that category nicely.

Over the last few seasons, the former walk-on has gotten better and better at finding the holes in coverage, and in his route running.

He wasn't blessed with exceptional speed or height so he become a better blocker, and he honed his technique.

But above all, he has sticky hands. He makes the tough catches, full extension and otherwise.

He's a chain mover.

HIS FIRST CATCH on Saturday against the UW resulted in a first down. So did his second grab, coming on Oregon State's first scoring drive.

To start the third quarter, Katz went right back to Nichols on the first play from scrimmage. Bam. Twenty-eight yards and into Washington territory. Oregon State would go on to tie the score at 21-21 on that drive.

Later, on third and six, Nichols got 11 to move the chains. His final grab was for 12 yards and another first down.

Five catches. Five first downs.

NICHOLS LED THE Beavs with five catches for 72 yards. Because his performance came in a loss, and a heartbreaker of a loss to boot, it will be overlooked, and soon forgotten during this bye week for the Beavers.

It shouldn't. And if for no other reason than as a harbinger of what's to come.

And that is the prediction from this vantage point -- in the second half of the season Nichols will both continue his steady ways but also turn in at least one of those "big-time" games over the final six contests. And this time it will come with a win(s).

With yardage machine James Rodgers lost for the season, the Beavs need someone, or several someones to step up among the pass catchers. With Quon out, Nichols is arguably the Beavs' most reliable receiver. And the OSU coaches love guys who are reliable.

Nichols had 11 career catches heading into this season, all of them coming in 2009. He's already topped that number here in the first half of the season, with 15 grabs in six games.

But the second half of the season, the Katz-to-Nichols connection, so the call from this chair goes, is going to be something to enjoy.

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