Another running QB, another Beaver loss

CORVALLIS – WSU coach Paul Wulff played a mean trick on the Reser Stadium crowd Saturday afternoon. Throughout the 31-14 stomping, he knew exactly what he was doing. So did WSU sophomore quarterback Jeff Tuel. And it wasn't as if the trick hadn't been played on the Beavs before.

TCU's Andy Dalton did it, ditto for Louisville's Adam Froman. UCLA's Richard Brehaut, too. On Saturday, Wazzu's Jeff Tuel became the latest quarterback this season to punish the Beavers on the ground.

By halftime in Corvallis, after the Cougs had jumped out to a 14-0 lead, Tuel had outrushed OSU running back Jacquizz Rodgers. No, that is not a misprint.

Tuel's yards per attempt (9.4) dwarfed that of Quizz (5.2) in his 10 rushes before the break. And Quizz would carry the ball only five more times in the game.

THERE WERE SOME designed runs by Tuel but he mostly did his damage after escaping pressure from the pass rush. Oregon State had lost starting DT Brennan Olander and rotation-man Castro Masaniai to injury the last two weeks and that left lanes open for Tuel.

Wide open.

Three key WSU third down conversions came when Tuel escaped the contain of the defensive line and linebackers. Two of those came on a near carbon-copy of UCLA's back breaking, clock eating drive the week before -- WSU opened the third quarter with an eight minute-plus drive.

"When you lose a football game there's only so much that you can talk about. You can't point fingers; you can't play the blame game. It's a matter of looking in the mirror and fixing it. We didn't fix it last week and this is what happened today," said senior linebacker Keith Pankey.

Real talk, coming from a senior leader of what has been a paper thin defense since OSU's trouncing of Cal a few weeks back. Here the OSU defense stands, with three games left, and more questions remain than answers.

OSU is under .500 this late in the season for the first time in the Mike Riley's second stint in Corvallis and the main culprit is depth, as in the Beavers just don't have it. That's not an excuse, it's an explanation.

Converted defensive end Kevin Frahm spent a good degree of playing time inside Saturday, as did Evan Hull, thrust into the Saturday trenches after Olander and Masaniai went down. Stephen Paea was his usual self on Saturday, but neither Frahm nor Hull brought enough tenacity or execution to the equation. You have to give the Cougars credit for that. But not all of it.

But the problems on Saturday weren't just up front. The Beavers defense on the whole looked lost in the soft fog and rain that blanketed Reser. Linebacker Dwight Roberson, the only Beaver with double-digit tackles (12) was one of the few who consistently stood out throughout the game. And Saturday's d-line tackle stats lie to everyone on Sunday morning.

  • Gabe Miller: Nine tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss
  • Stephen Paea: Eight tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss
  • Dominic Glover: Eight tackles, .5 sacks, 1.5

    Those are some awfully fine stat lines for d-line players. So dig a little further. Washington State converted 10 of 17 third down conversions -- along with the only fourth down conversion they tried. In four trips to the redzone, the Cougs came away with a touchdown three times. They allowed a sophomore quarterback to outrush their Heisman hopeful (if you take away the sack yardage). And WSU held an eye popping 40:05 to 19:55 edge in time of possession.

    MISTAKES KILLED ANY chance of a Beaver comeback.

    After the Beavs got their first score, a rifle pass from Ryan Katz to Markus Wheaton, they had momentum. On the ensuing possession, Paea got to Tuel and an off-balance pass long of his target on third down is the result. Tweet -- pass interference on Lance Mitchell. First down Cougs. Buzz Kill.

    After OSU closed the gap to 24-14, there was still 9:43 remaining. Plenty of time. And they had momentum again. The OSU defense did their job here -- they forced two successive WSU three-and-outs. But the offense could do nothing with either opportunity. One OSU possession went three and out and ended on a punt. The other saw the Beavs turn it over on downs. Major Buzz Kill.

    "Honestly, its gut check time," Pankey said. "Everyone has to go and look in the mirror. This one really stings but I think come Monday guys are going to have their heads straight. This one is going to burn for a while and we need to use it as motivation to work hard and do well."

    True dat. When the Trojans come to town next week, the OSU defense needs to bring their A game. USC is clicking on all cylinders on offense right now.

    If Oregon State can somehow, someway channel the defensive effort they displayed against Cal, it should be a heck of a game. If not, well, that's not something the Beaver Faithful want to even think about.

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