Beavers lose the mental game and in huge way

MUCH OF WHAT happened in Corvallis on Saturday defied reason. There were statistical anomalies, like the No. 2 pass defense in the Pac-12 allowing a redshirt freshman QB in his first start to go wild, passing for 471 yards, 5 TDs and no INTs. There were head-scratchers, such as OSU calling for a fair catch on a kickoff at the 20-yard line against one of the worst Pac-12 coverage units in memory.

Fullback Ricky Ortiz doesn’t handle the ball on a kickoff unless something unusual happens. Maybe he’s been coached to take a knee if, as an up man, the ball comes to him. Who knows.

But this is a WSU team that has surrendered an ungodly six combined TDs on punt and kickoffs (three on each). They came into the game as bad as it gets on special teams, particularly the coverage units. They fired their special teams coach midseason, for crying out loud.

And OSU played right into their hands.

Taking a knee? With room to roam? Ungh.

The Beavers’ placekicker, Garrett Owens, was forced into duty when Trevor Romaine was suspended for an undisclosed rules violation. Owens was fantastic, nailing four field goals right down the middle on four tries of 24, 37, 44, 46 yards.

But Washington State, incredibly, battle the Beavs to a special teams draw. OSU had one punt return of two yards. Their five kickoff returns averaged only 21.6 yards. Their net kickoff yards averaged 37.8, less than WSU’s 38.7. Malcolm Marable’s 41-yard kickoff return only garnered a field goal.

Meanwhile, clock management reared it’s ugly head – again -- as Oregon State wasted time at the end of the first and second halves, displaying none of the requisite urgency the situation called for. Call a timeout?

Oregon State committed three personal foul penalties, each more foolish than the last. (And it should have been four but for some unknown reason, the Pac-12 refs decided to ignore a Beaver o-linema,n after the play, slamming a WSU defender to the ground right in front of them.)

Of the ones that were called, Dylan Wynn was called for roughing the passer, adding 15 hashes onto a 20-yard completion. Sean Mannion completed a pass to Victor Bolden down to the WSU 6-yard line but Sean Harlow‘s personal foul pushed it back to the WSU 21-yard line.

And Larry Scott sealed the loss with a personal foul Falk ran around trying to bleed the clock on third down, taking a knee and a sack of 10 yards on third down. WSU would have had to punt from their own 33-yard line and the Beavs still had a slim chance. But Scott’s foul gave WSU a first down and they ran out the clock.

On a night where there were too many gaffes to count, it seemed fitting to end it on such a note.

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