Banker's D stands tall in win over Cal

CORVALLIS–Head man Mike Riley gets a lot of credit for the success of the Beavs, and deservedly so. But fans need to realize how vital his coordinators are to his success. And Riley would be the first to tell you that d-coordinator Mark Banker has saved him from defeat more than a few times. On Saturday for the Beaver D, it wasn't so much about saving the game, it was about winning it outright.

What a difference a bye makes. Two weeks ago against Washington, fans complained that coordinator Mark Banker's defense looked woeful. But this Saturday, in the confines of Reser Stadium, Oregon State fans saw what kind of adjustments Banker can make with a bye week. And the Beavers simply pummeled the California Bears from start to finish on that side of the ball.

The Beavers came out from the get-go with the urgency they've been craving for all season. With the crowd roaring, the defense forced a Cal offense that had scored 50 points the previous week to a three and out.

In fact, the first quarter was one of the ugliest for Cal all season. The Beaver D held the Golden Bears to just 16 total yards on offense and took out their starting quarterback, senior, Kevin Riley. It was truly a nightmare start for head coach Jeff Tedford.

Was there a difference when Cal QB Kevin Riley was knocked from the game?

Absolutely. When Riley went down, we knew they were going to start trying to run the ball more," said senior DE Gabe Miller.

Banker certainly did -- Cal was held to 81 total rushing yards. It was a team effort shutting down the Golden Bears' dynamic running back, Shane Vereen, who was limited to 54 hashes on the ground. Certainly, adjustments were made, and the Oregon State fans noticed it.

After Riley left the game, Oregon State brought the pressure to backup QB Brock Mansion -- he was sacked four times. Reser was a house of horrors for Mansion on Saturday, the orange and black uniforms serving a not so subtle reminder for the QB on the day before Halloween.

Mark Banker continuously called on blitz and zone coverages to confuse and pressure the Cal backup, who never seemed to get on target, going 14-for-24 for 138 yards. The secondary for the Beavs stepped up their play as well and CB Brandon Hardin, who has received criticism for his coverage, was all over the field against both run and pass.

Hardin, whose birthday was Saturday, played like the Golden Bears stiffed him on a gift. He had six tackles, five solo, one sack and a forced fumble.

Hardin, who has had his trouble defending the long ball this season, only allowed three passes completed against -- all of them averaged five yards per catch.

Not making the stat line was how physical Hardin was against Cal, the sound from his sack and forced fumble of QB Mansion in the fourth quarter is probably still reverberating around the stadium.

Banker, whom many fans thought should have benched Hardin for the younger CB Jordan Poyer, or move Hardin to safety in a Sabby Piscatelli-type role, stuck to his guns and had faith in Hardin to finish the job done. Well, Saturday, the job was done.

California has averaged 377 yards of total offense this season. On Saturday in Corvallis, OSU held them to just 206.

A week ago, the Bears dropped 50 on an Arizona State team that played OSU close, so many were expecting OSU to give up more than their fair share. Go figure.

The Beavers gave up only seven points -- with about 42 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. That's 27 points less than the Golden Bears average on the season.

Sure the defense ranks in the lower part of college football statistically, maybe they have been inconsistent at times. And sometimes, awful. But one thing you can't say about the defense is that they'll quit. Mark Banker would never allow it.

Rebounding as strongly as they did, from a devastating loss against UW, speaks volumes about this teams character and will.

Some say a coach's impact doesn't show up in the box score.

On Saturday, they did. All you have to do is look at the California column.

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