TMD: Egads! What a nightmare for Beavs

OREGON STATE WAS anything but electric in a devastating 30-17 loss on the road Saturday night. The Beaver offense could not get the ball rolling when it mattered most, and four interceptions from Sean Mannion certainly didn't help alleviate the strain of a vicious ASU defense and the thundering footfalls of Marion Grice. There were many reasons for this Beaver loss, starting with…

Oregon State's complete and utter failure to capitalize when they had the ball in their hands. It's been the storyline of the last three games, all losses. It's a rough two-minute drill this week, but let's face it head on...

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Game At a Glance
Cornerback Rashaad Reynolds and linebacker Jabral Johnson's early interceptions off of ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly gave the Beavs multiple chances to make something happen on offense, but the Beavs looked largely lethargic and sloppy. They forced their defense to simply stay on the too long en route to a tough loss to Arizona.

ASU tormented the Beavers throughout the first half with some stout defense. The Beavs went into the half trailing 20-3 and it felt like it should have been about 70-3, such was the lopsided nature of the play.

Yet OSU has a penchant for being a second half team, and hopes for victory hinged on just that when OSU took over for its first offensive drive of the second half.

And Oregon State opened up the second half comeback with… an interception thrown by Mannion. His third pick of the night came at perhaps the worst time..

Over and over again, Oregon State was given a chance to take chunks out of a 17-point defect which they held for the better part of three quarters. Ultimately, the Beavers won the third quarter, earning their first touchdown of the night on a 6-yard toss to sophomore tight end Caleb Smith. The Beaver defense held the Devils to a donut on the scoreboard in the third quarter, and ‘no chance' started looking like more than a puncher's chance for Mike Riley's squad.

OSU then put together a drive right out of the ‘old school football' stylebook where they pounded the turf with the run game and worked the ball to Smith, Connor Hamlett and Richard Mullaney for short but powerful gains through the air. Everything was looking up for the orange and black until a third down run in the red zone was stopped short by ASU, and Isaac Seumalo was called for a 15 yard personal foul after getting in an altercation with Will Sutton.

Any hopes died there. Replay showed Sutton kept pushing Seumalo's facemask until it popped off. The camera panned away before seeing if Seumalo retaliated but based on the looks provided, it seemed like OSU got hosed on the call. The following field goal by Romaine was blocked, and everything started sinking even more.

Note: To be clear, OSU didn't lose because of a bad call, if that's what is was. Oregon State did plenty all on their own to doom their chances. It's just that Oregon State was down 20-10 and at least was in line for a field goal if not a TD when they call, or missed call depending on your point of view, occurred. And when it went against OSU, it effectively ended any Beaver hopes for a comeback.

After a stingy Sun Devil drive that ended in an 18-yard field goal attempt and chewed up just under five minute of valuable fourth quarter play clock, the OSU offense tried to fight back but it was futile. On the first play, Mannion failed to look off his mark along the sideline and threw a pick-six to Robert Nelson (two INT's on the night).

Players of the Game
  • Junior H-back Connor Hamlett picked up the offensive slack where other couldn't, and closed out the evening with nine receptions for 119 yards and a score. His efforts in Arizona were impressive – especially his 29-yard barrel-roll for a score late in the fourth quarter.

  • Brandin Cooks caught nine passes, surpassing Mike Hass and Markus Wheaton as the new Oregon State record holder for receptions in a single-season. Cooks' 92nd reception came in the first quarter and he will go into next week's game against Washington sitting at 100. That's tied with California's Dameane Douglas (1998) for fourth-most ever by a Pac-10/12 Conference player.

  • Junior defensive end Scott Crichton was the owner of two tremendous sacks on the evening, and one of the few lingering bright spots on a Beaver defense that was cold for the first quarter, warming up and eventually hot in the second and third quarters, and plagued by fatigue and a incessantly stale offense in the fourth. Crichton kept the motor running, and he deserves kudos for that.

    Turning Point/Game Changer
  • If I had to choose from one of Mannion's four picks, it would be his second interception, where he tossed a pass over the head of an open Cooks. But the play that really turned the game was when the Beavs stopped Arizona in the first quarter on their own 38-yard line -- alas, a 15-yard facemask penalty by Rashaad Reynolds gave ASU new life, which they used to rapidly traverse the remaining turf in just three plays to score their second touchdown. It was an inadvertent facemask and didn't have much of an effect but it was still a facemask penalty and hugely unfortunate for the Beavs.

    Unexpected Developments -
  • This one was big, and a note for all the Mark Banker doubters out there – Taylor Kelly only picked up six yards on eight carries Saturday night. I was fully anticipating seeing him slash right through the Beaver defense once, twice and thrice for 20-plus yard gains and a maybe a touchdown. I was surprised when linebackers D.J. Alexander, Johnson and Rommel Mageo proved stellar in limiting Kelly's movement to mostly horizontal angles when he tried to use his legs to earn hashes.

  • With the exception of a 42-yard jaunt where he was left wide open in the ASU defensive pattern, Brandin Cooks was prevented from exercising his vertical speed against the Sun Devils. Cooks was forced to operate on a smaller scale, working the middle of the field and running shorter routes instead of stretching the field and taking his defender to a track meet. Cooks, who was banged up during the game, came back to fight tooth and nail.

  • This was a very shoddy night for Mannion, his second in a row (USC) after setting the world on fire for the first half of the season. The 42-yard completion to Cooks was one of the few sure bets that flew from the hand of Mannion on Saturday, and the fact that Cooks notched nine receptions and 99 yards on the evening was a true testament to Cooks' skill.

    . Meaningless Stats of the Game
  • Mannion connected with eight different receiving options, four of whom were wide receivers. Mannion also chalked up 320 yards, threw for two touchdowns on the evening but the four picks overshadowed all.

  • The Beaver secondary only allowed Kelly to toss for 183 yards on the night, 106 of which went to one man – sophomore receiver Jaelen Strong.

  • Redshirt freshman receiver Malik Gilmore may have only accounted for three receptions and 18 yards, but he was a consistent target of Mannion's for the second straight game. Some miscues due to inexperience may have hurt the chemistry between Gilmore and Mannion at times, but the fact remains that Mannion looked to him as a first or second option is important to note in looking ahead to the final two regular season games, where Gilmore's size could prove beneficial.

    Special Teams Edge

    Goes to ASU
  • Between the blocked field goal attempt that the Devils had on Trevor Romaine from 48 yards out and Cooks' muffed punt, Oregon State left little room for debate on who the more stout special teams unit was.

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