CORVALLIS – Oregon State's 49-46 loss marked the first time since 1999 that both Oregon State and their opponent accumulated more than 40 points each. But that doesn't tell half the story. What does? Well, you have to start with the OSU defense, or the relative lack thereof.
Player of the Game
It seems odd not to pick Sean Mannion here but we're going with Brandin Cooks. It wasn't just that the wideout ignited the Beaver offense with big catches, it's that he ended the night with career highs in three categories. The junior wideout gathered in 13 receptions for 196 yards and two touchdowns. He put the Beavs up by three in the final quarter, and was the key component in the Beavers retaking the lead twice in the fourth quarter.
Turning Point/Game Changer
You can pick any number of plays but the one that effectively ended it was a defensive pass interference call on Sean Martin in the end zone on third-and-goal. That gave the Eagles a fresh set of downs starting on the Beavers' two-yard line and as a bonus, they could burn a little more clock too.
Defensive Play of the Game
Offensive Play of the Game:
Sean Mannion's pass to Cooks that set the Beavers for a potential game-tying field goal with three seconds remaining on the clock. Cooks got drilled in the back with a helmet and hobbled away from the play. But he held onto the ball. And Mannion zipped it in there exactly where it needed to be. If Trevor Romaine could have hit that 52-yarder, we would have overtime and hope. As it was, it was a great play, that went for naught.
You mean other than the whole game? Eastern Washington did more than showed up, they outhustled the Beaver who looked set in stone on defense. What did OSU expect, a Pop-Warner club? The read-option talents of QB Vernon Adams threw the Oregon State defense for a loop, and Saturday indicated that holding minimal contact practices during fall camp might have hurt more than anticipated. But my take was that it was more than just missed tackles that dogged the Beaver's in this one – it was a lack of real-time exposure to a legitimate dual-threat QB.
The middle of the field being left open to all sorts of mayhem courtesy of a lackluster Beaver pass defense – that was unexpected, too. Eastern Washington receiving duo Ashton Clark and Cooper Kupp were evasive as hell to the Beaver D, and sliced through the middle of the secondary with way, way too much authority. Combined, Ashton and Kupp picked up 274 yards and three TD receptions on the day, as brutal a stat as any.
Also not in the pregame forecast -- Oregon State's rather horrific tackling in the first half that enabled Eastern Washington to move ahead of the Beavers and establish momentum early on. Whatever preparation OSU did for an offense with a running quarterback gets a big F grade. With other opponents on the schedule with dual-threat quarterbacks, OSU needs to find a solution that, rapidly.
Meaningless Stats of the Game:
Michael Doctor's two sacks of the day. Sacks usually factor pretty heavily into whether or not a team is defensively successful, and Doctor led the team with 11 takedowns. But that mattered little in the grand scheme of things, as the Oregon State defenders were dogged left and right by sloppy tackling, some skilled passing and route running on behalf of EWU and surrendering an ungodly boatload of yards, (625 hashes in total offense.)
Tyler Perry's two-point conversion in the third quarter may not have amounted to a legitimate reception in the stat book, but it did mark the junior's first catch of his career.
Senior punter Tim McMullen's 50-yard punt during Saturday's tilt in Corvallis marked the first punt of his career. (P Keith Kostol was out with a sprained ankle.)
Monday Morning Quarterbacking:
The obvious thing to talk about here is OSU's lack on contact and no scrimmages in fall camp. But because it's so obvious, we're going in another direction – the bright side. Wait, there was a bright side? Yes. Mannion threw for 422 yards and three TD's and went a sterling 37-for-43 with no interceptions. Oregon State's wide receivers were typically right in step with Mannion, and the timing exhibited between QB and receiver was generally excellent, with one or two hiccups that almost led to INT's. Saturday's game marked the ninth game of Mannion's career where the junior signal caller posted 300-plus yards, and the second game where he has thrown for three TD's without an accompanying interception. In other words, there's hope.
Special Teams Edge:
Goes to OSU. Victor Bolden accumulated 119 yards on six kick returns for the orange and black, compared to three returns for 67 yards for EWU. Mana Rosa's blocked kick also vaulted Oregon State over EWU in this category, despite the unfortunate missed field goal at the end by Trevor Romaine.
On the lighter side:
A tie for top honors here, between Dylan Wynn walking onto the field with a chainsaw at the start of the game and the game official accidentally referring to the Eagles as "Central Washington.".
Drew's Final Thoughts - Game One
Well that was a doozy. But if my opinion, this loss is just the dose of reality that OSU needs. Give credit where credit is due, to Eastern Washington - more specifically to Adams, Kupp and Clark. They played a heck of a game, battling through nicks and hard hits to lead EWU to an upset victory.
It will be whispered, yelled and grumbled about this week... In bars, on family road trips and in locker rooms, the prevailing topic of conversation will be the same -- Where was the Beaver defense? Where was the tackling? Why was the center of the field so vulnerable to pass after pass after pass? Did OSU forget their big boy cleats on the Tommy Prothro Practice Field, or is EWU just that good?
Those questions won't be answered for a few more weeks. But I can say this: OSU, surely, will be far better prepared for similar offensive attacks in the future.