Nine months later, Beav attitude still absent

MAYBE IT WOULD look better in the morning, Oregon State's stunning loss to Sacramento State. Perhaps some positives that were overshadowed late on Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium could be more easily discovered and it wouldn't feel quite as grim. That was the thinking, anyway.

Nope. Despite Malcolm Agnew's run to daylight, that game still looks and feels as bad as the second it ended. Maybe, with a short passage of time, even worse -- Seasonal black and orange hopes dashed, and a deep sense of foreboding of what's to come in Week 2 at Wisconsin are what's left.

There are no shortage of Xs and Os to discuss – from blitz packages to QBs to the o-line to the Beavs' inability to put a dent in Sac State's short passing game and beyond – but I just keep coming back to one thing.


From the very beginning of the game, Oregon State looked like they were headed off to a mundane desk job they'd held for years, not a season opening college football tilt. When Scott Crichton broke through early for a pair of tackles for loss, the celebration from his teammates was charitably, inexplicably and maddeningly, muted.

Crichton's teammates looked more like an accountant holding the door open for a boss. A dentist trying to remember if his wife asked him to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home. An office manager fumbling with his keys.

OSU used to field a badass team with attitude. Ask Victor Butler. Or Sabby Piscitelli. Or Andy Levitre. The Beavs might not win every week, but the opponent would damned sure know they'd been in a knock-down drag-out. These days, they probably feel more like they had an orange peel facial.

I hated when Jacquizz Rodgers publicly lambasted his teammates for a lack of fire last year. Still do. You never do that publicly, only in the sanctity of the locker room. One on one. With eye contact. You don't do it in the media. Ever. And it was apparent from Quizz' words the next week and beyond Mike Riley and/or staff had made crystal clear to the star running back the error of his ways.

I was preparing an offseason column on it all when Quizz declared he would go pro, and so it seemed moot. But the central issue clearly still remains, as anyone who witnessed the Beavs' lifeless effort on Saturday can attest.

And the worry now is that the Beavers can't get something back they've never really had. Attitude is a state of mind, a part of the personality, hard wired into a football player's DNA. It's not like drilling over and over a scheme's nuances until you have them down pat.

You have to play who you are. And it's not apparent, just as it wasn't last year when the Beavs reacted feebly to an opponent running Quizz 15 yards out of bounds and dropping him face first on the turf, that these Beavers are a mean and nasty enough bunch.

Wisconsin looked like a national title contender this week against a young, overmatched UNLV team. Oregon State looked like an end-of-the-season team going nowhere.

Unless the Beavs somehow discover a hidden personality trait in the next six days… The late Jim Murray, a sportswriter without peer, wasn't talking about the Beavers, or even college football, when he penned the following quip. He was talking about the Indianapolis 500. But it seems appropriate when thinking about the Beavs and Badgers matchup this coming Saturday -- figuratively speaking, of course.

Gentlemen, start your coffins.

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