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Amid Inspiration, Questions Remain

Raju Woodward weighs in on the inspiring performace in the second half on Saturday, but the questions that still loom large as the Beavers rebuild their program.

Look, the Beavers’ second-half effort against Boise State was inspiring, even if the Broncos might have eased up on the gas pedal due to building a commanding 37-7 halftime lead at Reser Stadium.

And Conor Blount, a walk-on so new to the program that his photo isn’t included with his bio in the OSU media guide, did provide the Beavers with a much-needed boost, leading them on their most successful drive of the game — 13 plays, 82 yards, and lasted 4:55.

But while the second-half numbers looked great on paper, as the Beavers outscored Boise State, 17-7, and outgained them 230 yards to 77 yards, let’s be honest, the outcome had been settled much earlier, as the OSU offense sputtered after a very promising first drive.

A 59-yard kickoff return by Victor Bolden enabled the Beavers to start at the Boise State 45. After two pass completions, a Seth Collins pass to Darell Garretson on a nifty trick play drew a 15-yard pass interference call against BSU. Ryan Nall then ran from 14 yards out to tie the game. 

It was nice quick, finishing drive that could’ve really set the tempo for the OSU offensive, but instead here’s how the rest of the first half went: Missed FG, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt…

So, any momentum the Beavers had after that first drive was wasted. What happened to the creativity of the first drive? Trying to establish the run? The even bigger question is, what is the Beavers’ offensive game plan?

Complain all you want about the OSU receivers, but it’s a team game. Victor Bolden has been a beast on special teams, so why not get him the ball more in space so he can make plays in the passing game? Jordan Villamin has struggled, but lets not forget that he had a strong freshman year; the potential is there. Considering the QB play last season and so far this season, is it fair to put so much blame on the WRs? 

Also, if Paul Lucas, Trevon Bradford, and Timmy Hernandez are so much better, why aren’t they playing more? That said, it’s baffling that Lucas isn’t involved more in the offense. He seems capable of creating the big plays this offense needs. Collins appears to be getting there, but is still learning the nuances of playing receiver. And what the heck happened to Hunter Jarmon

More concerning is that this coaching staff appears unsettled about what they want to do offensively. For example, while Garretson was struggling in the second quarter, why not run the ball more with Nall and Art Pierce? Or what about when Blount came in?

He was started off promising while rolling out and improvising, but when he had to sit back and stay in the pocket, he struggled, including having two passes batted down. 

The decision to bring Blount is interesting, too. It seems crazy that he would go from Scout Team to No. 2 just like that. Marcus McMaryion has been up and down, but he was steady during the Civil War; did he take a huge step backward instead of using that performance as a springboard? Wanting to redshirt Mason Moran is totally understandable, but at this point, OSU desperately needs a big win. Could’ve he delivered?

Coach Andersen is adamant Garretson is the guy, if healthy. But if he continues to struggle with his timing and converting on big plays, could he be replaced again? If that happens, what does it mean? He’s the guy that was bought in, made team captain, and handed the keys to the offense.

Growing pains were expected with new co-offensive coordinators, but after three games, the results have been underwhelming. It’s hard to see the offense growing and developing quick enough to put up the points needed to match the Pac-12’s high-flying offenses. The offense is far too consistent and can’t get into shootouts, because it hasn’t proved that it can get down the field in a hurry. 

If you watched the Colorado-Oregon game, how fun was it to watch the Buffaloes on offense? Sure, the Ducks’ defense is garbage this season, but Colorado does a little bit of everything on offense, making them unpredictable, tough to stop, and fun. All of which Beaver Nation is clamoring to see, as Andersen’s offense was supposed to be a welcome departure from Mike Riley’s pro-style offense.

It’s painfully clear that OSU needs to get more talent in the trenches and add another Markus Wheaton or Brandin Cooks, but recruiting sure is a lot easier when you are winning games. At this point, it’s hard to say when the Beavers might get another win.

Yes, there a lot of questions surrounding the OSU offense right now, and as a result, it’s fair to wonder about the coaching staff’s ability to adapt their scheme to the players. People rave about Andersen and his staff. If they are so highly regarded, shouldn’t they be coaxing wins out of this team, no matter how big of rebuild?

In that regard, can this staff do more with less, something Riley was excellent at until his last few seasons? The answer so far, seems to be no, as the Beavers have yet to get a big win, much less a surprising upset under Andersen.

Many Beavers fans are taking a “be patient and see what happens” approach; that’s totally fair and valid. At the same time, it’s equally fine to wonder if this staff can create an offensive game plan that puts players in situations to succeed more often — as well as question if this staff can develop its recruits enough to thrive in Pac-12. 

After seeing Colorado in action against Oregon, there’s no question that the Beavers are going to need to get a whole lot better at moving the chains if they want to avoid falling to 1-3 on the season.

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