CORVALLIS – Call it a cookie cutter performance from Oregon State that gave them the 33-14 win over Hawaii. OSU's defense held tough for much of the night. Sean Mannion threw his first interception of the season, but made up for it and then some with four touchdowns and some surprise rushing yardage. But there's much more to this win - both good and bad - that might have met the eye.
A sigh of relief emanated from the city of Corvallis and Beaver Nation on Saturday night, as Oregon State moved to 1-1 on the season.
Players of the Game Offense
Isaac Seumalo shares some of the award. Mike Riley's starting center put on a heck of a show blocking for all manner of passes and yeah okay, for the ill-conceived fly sweep calls too. Seumalo held down the center of the OSU offensive line for the better part of four quarters and proved versatile in the later segments of the game when he was involved in a rather a significant position shift with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
Starting right guard Roman Sapolu went down with an injury with just over half the fourth quarter remaining, and Seumalo switched over to right guard with Josh Mitchell coming in at center. Then, Grant Bays came in at RG and Seumalo moved to RT to cover for Grant Enger, who had headed to the sidelines.
Brandin Cooks once again anchored the OSU aerial attack, putting together seven receptions for 92 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Cooks was the go-to guy on third-and-long for the Beavs as well, and his success in moving the chains, as well as the heart No. 7 showed throughout the night earns him the latter half of the player of the game award.
Sean Mannion had a few foibles early but he again put up a stellar completion percentage -- 31-for-43 – and tossed four touchdowns to go against that one pick. He accumulated 372 passing yards and was sacked twice.
Senior defensive end Devon Kell, who accounted for half a sack - shared with Scott Crichton - and half a safety - shared with Mana Rosa. Kell was also a fixture at defensive tackle in OSU's speed-based third down blitzing package, where he lined up adjacent to Crichton as a DT in the middle on multiple third downs to provide an agile push for Joe Seumalo's D-line.
Turning Point/Game Changer
OSU twice ran it on fourth down and short in the first half, and each time the ball was in the hands of Sean Mannion, who is not exactly a runner. But in the grand scheme of things, those two rushes put OSU in a position to find the end zone and shift Ol' Mo into the orange corner for the first quarter. Mannion displayed acute awareness of the field on one of those runs, as he managed to locate his own muffed snap on fourth and one, subsequently moving the chains for three yards and a first down after burrowing through the middle of a scrum between his own O-line and Hawaii's D-line.
Defensive Play of the Game - Oregon State
The safety picked up by Kell in the fourth quarter with just over 7:30 remaining really sealed Oregon State's victory. It was the biggest of statements made by the Beaver D-line on the night, and managed to juice a crowd that had slowly started losing steam as the game dragged on.
Offensive Plays of the Game - Oregon State
The two touchdowns of Brandin Cooks were the big ones. OSU oftentimes found themselves in third-and-long where Cooks was the obvious target for big yards. Everyone knew it and he still came through. Cooks' two TD receptions were a pair of eight yard catches that hammered nails in Hawaii's coffin.
Unexpected Developments -
What happened to Michael Doctor? The Beavs senior ‘backer was in for a few plays in the first quarter, then appeared to vanish with an apparent injury, the nature and severity yet unclear. Redshirt freshman Caleb Saulo subbed in for the injured Doctor, and had a pretty solid contest with five tackles and a few hurries.
The miscues between the Hawaii starting center Ben Clarke and Hawaii quarterback Shane Graham were rather obvious. Clarke had five bad snaps if not more on Saturday night – one led to the shared sack by Kell and Crichton, and the others simply led to some poor timing and reads on behalf of an automatically hurried Graham. Ultimately, this benefitted the Beavs defense, and quicker pressure stymied quite a bit of offensive production potential for the Rainbow Warriors.
Ward throwing the ball in the red zone and kinda-sorta almost nearly hitting Caleb Smith in the end zone for six. It was a tricky play, but Ward couldn't plant his feet and a TD there for the taking wasn't to be. Frankly, the play looked very similar to how OSU practiced it, and it never looked crisp in practice.
Whether this is unexpected or not lies in the ears/eyes of the beholder, but official attendance for Saturday's bout at Reser was only 38, 179, a number that thinned significantly after the first half. Attendance for the Eastern Washington game was 41,649 – did a shoddy defensive showing last week persuade fans to stick to tailgating outside of the stadium? Or did Beaver fans just plan the family vacations for this weekend? Will this decline in attendance be a trend moving forward?
Meaningless Stats of the Game-
If someone told you Hawaii outgained Oregon State on the ground, would you have still predicted an OSU victory? The Beavs rushed for 86 yards, while Hawaii tallied 92 hashes.
Monday Morning Quarterbacking –
Clearly Hawaii did their homework and prepared for the variety of screen looks Riley and Danny Langsdorf were going to throw at them. Woods could barely find breathing room on a lot of runs and his myriad attempts were often stuffed for short gains. Woods' looks were typically off tackle on the right hand side of the field. I questioned all night long why OSU ran to the right off of Enger and Sapolu instead of off Philipp and Andrews. OSU did not try to run much, Woods had only 17 carries. That speaks to Hawaii's defensive reputation, but it also speaks to OSU's philosophy here early in the season.
Predictable sweeps, predictable screens – Oregon State's offense didn't go up tempo for the better part of the game. Big passing gains like those on display last week against Eastern Washington were sporadic at best, and the run game was timid. Tailbacks only accounted for 23 runs collectively and notched a mere 63 yards. Mannion's passing performance was exemplary against a lackluster Hawaii secondary, but the interception he tossed to Julian Gener was horrendous and he nearly threw another, on a screen, that would have been equally painful. Still, hard to nitpick too much on Mannion given his completion percentage and 4 TDs.
Special Teams Edge - Goes to Hawaii< br>
Brandin Cooks backtracked on two of his punt returns and gained only a few yards by doing so. His punt return as the first half was winding down wasted seven seconds of the game clock and gave Jovan Stevenson time to commit a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that drove the Beavers out of reasonable field goal range toward the end of the first half. Cooks had five punt returns for an unimpressive 15 yards on Saturday.
Neither team had any level of exemplary special teams play – in this case, OSU's incessant flurry of showmanship on kick and punt returns earns them a demerit in the BF.C notebook.
Funniest Moment of the Game -
….Terron Ward. Threw the ball. I hear there are prescriptions for that… it's called beer.
Doctor notched two assisted tackles before an injury put him on the sideline. In post-game, Riley did not mention the severity of the injury, but did go as far as to say that it did not look good, and the senior linebacker could be out for a while.