COMMENTARY: Beavs lost more than a game

CORVALLIS – Saturday's defeat wasn't just another bad loss for an Oregon State team, which, by most accounts, is now underachieving mightily. It was an indication that "Corvallis, we have more than one problem." And the biggest problem of all has nothing to do with strength, power or speed.

Going into Saturday, Washington State had lost 16 consecutive Pac-10 games. The bottom of the pack. Could OSU possibly lose to them? At home?


And not just by a few, but by a lot. Indeed, it was a blowout from the get-go. OSU's offense was shut down on their first three possessions by the time WSU had gone up 14-0, but it might as well have been 35-0. It sure felt hopeless based on the first half reactions of the Reser Stadium crowd. How could this happen?

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SOME WILL POINT fingers at the offensive line, and well they should, because the o-line has performed at a sub-par level virtually all season. Others will say it's the defense, which actually isn't a horrible way to go either, considering OSU ranks in the NCAA's bottom half in total team defense.

My thoughts? It's internal.

WHAT MAKES THAT one particular team succeed more than the others? Sometimes it's money, other times it's talent. But every time, its team chemistry.

And this Oregon State team has lost that. And once it's gone, it's of so hard to get it back.

Nine games in and this team is 3-3 in Pac-10 play and 4-5 overall. Worse, the players are pointing fingers at one another.

When the season began, it felt okay for OSU to lose close games in the fourth quarter against Top 5 squads TCU and Boise State. But what about Washington? UCLA? And now, Washington State?

INJURIES HAVE BEEN devastating in 2010. Losing WR and all-purpose yardage machine James Rodgers and then DT Brennan Olander were killers. But is the remaining talent on this roster truly indicative of a 4-5 record?

I don't think so.

What makes this season so hard to swallow are bad losses, to even worse teams. Teams, that if OSU played 10 times, they should beat nine of those times.

But Oregon State is not getting the job done, and it's less about physicality, schemes or playcalling than it is about lacking the unique interconnection with teammates that winning teams possess.

IN WALKED LINEBACKER Keith Pankey to the press conference room in the Valley Center after the game. Usually, when a player steps to the table, they wait for questions from the assembled media. Not this time.

Pankey approached the table and mics with clear disgust on his face. The kind of look you'd see on a man's face if you had just stolen his car.

"It's gut check time. People need to start looking in the mirror," said Pankey.

Next was C Alex Linnenkohl, who expressed similar thoughts, albeit with a little less anger, and a little more sadness. Following Linnenkohl was RB Jacquizz Rodgers.

Quizz is usually smiling, happy go lucky. Saturday? Not so much. It was evident he was holding back tears. But who could blame him?

"I think this is the first game I've wanted to cry, since high school," Quizz said.

Every player that took the podium either hinted or said outright some Beavs weren't taking this season seriously enough, or that they weren't putting forth the effort.


That says it all. OSU is fractured, and backtracking -- at a time of the season when fans have become accustomed to seeing them rise and succeed.

SURE, YOU CAN look at all the stats and box score from Saturday, but what you won't find is how much heart the Beavs showed against WSU -- what the body language looked like after missed opportunities for the Beavs, or how much louder the Wazzu section was than the rest of Reser.

What you might be searching for isn't something you can find. It's only something the players can look for and find.

In a season where people were thinking Roses, then Alamo, then Kraft Fight Hunger, it's now becoming dangerously close to, "Well, there's always next year."

It's hard to accept, especially considering two weeks ago this same team blew out a Cal team that just played Oregon down to the wire. How could OSU backtrack so far, so quickly?

I don't know, but the point now is that OSU is lost. With ‘SC, Stanford, and Oregon coming up, few can feel confident about this team winning any one of those games and based on the player reactions following the loss to WSU, their confidence level is running close to nil. OSU has taken two steps forward only to take six steps back, and in the next three weeks, it may be more.

Some caution not to give up hope yet, that OSU plays better against the tougher opponent. Words well said, but OSU needs to get back to being the team that started 3-1 in Pac-10 play.

And they better figure it out soon, or this season now suddenly tipping on the precipice is going to turn over completely.

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