Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

He Said. She Said. A Step Forward

That. Was. Fun. Ok, a little nerve-wracking, but fun to see Coach Andersen and his Beavers earn their first PAC 12 win in his Oregon State coaching era.

She said: Offense

What a difference a week makes.  After going on the road and not scoring a single touchdown, the Beavers return home with nothing to lose and surprised everyone, including Cal, with a 47-44 overtime win.

The run game was a thing of beauty as Ryan Nall rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.  Yep, he averaged 15.8 yards per carry.

Darell Garretson rushed for 105 and two touchdowns, including the game winner in overtime, and true freshman Artavis Pierce joined the party scoring the first touchdown of his collegiate career.

474 eye popping rushing yards in all.

The biggest factor in the Beavers success? The big fellas up front. Sean Harlow looked to be back to mid-season form after returning just last week.

I really like this unit with freshman Gus Lavaka, seniors Gavin Andrews and Dustin Stanton and redshirt freshman Blake Brandel paving the way.

They opened up some ginormous holes and protected Garretson all night.  

The passing game is still a work in progress, but when you’re able to run that well against a defense, why risk taking chances through the air.

She said offensive grade:  B

He said Offense:

Where’d that offensive line come from?  It was truly indistinguishable from every prior game this year.

You hear a lot about offensive lines “gelling”.  I think we witnessed that on Saturday night.

This much maligned O-line was blowing open holes and road grading the way for the run game to pile up a school in-conference record 474 yards on the ground.  Truly impressive stuff.

And how about the blocking from the receiver group?  Several of the longer runs were a direct result of some solid blocking on the Cal defensive backs.   This hasn’t been a strength of this group for many, many years, so it was nice to see this improvement.   There is no way you rack up that type of rushing yardage without receiver’s who are doing work in the blocking department.

The passing game is still an area of concern.  Garretson showed he had full command of the huddle, with his leadership and running skills, but he needs to up his passing game if they want to continue to win games this year.  

He said offensive grade: B+

She said Defense:

Say what you will about the Beaver defense, but they held an electric Cal passing attack, which had been averaging over 420 yards per game, to 124.   

While the rush defense struggled at times as the game progressed, the tackling was better and assignments were better maintained overall.  

This was by far the best 60 minutes of football we have seen from the defense this year.

Special acknowledgement to Treston Decoud who held one of the best receivers in the country to four receptions for sixteen yards.  

True freshman Joah Robinett saw his first action of the year, getting the start, and was very active all night.  At 6-foot-8, he is a physical force.  It will be exciting to see how good he can be once he adds more weight and strength.

Defensive Grade She said: B

He said Defense:

That first half defense, in all facets, was as solid as we’ve seen this year.   Truly an unbelievable turnaround from the first half defenses we’ve seen in the past two games.

Cal’s offense was completely out of sync the entire half and were lucky to have even scored the 3 points they did, as that drive was helped by penalty and took 19(!) plays to go 65 yards for the field goal.

While Cal finally did get the run game going in the second half, their passing game never got on track and that can be credited to the Beaver secondary, who had their finest game of the season.  

To hold Davis Webb, the nation’s #2 passer coming into the game averaging 428 yards a game, to just 113 total passing yards is bordering on incredible.   Now, there was post-game indication that Webb had injured his thumb during the game, but it was still a yeoman’s performance by the Beaver secondary.

Yes, there were some run defense breakdowns later in the game, but they made amends in the overtime, holding Cal to just three yards and a field goal, setting the stage for the Beaver offense to win it in their next series.

That was a confidence building game for the defense.  Was it perfect?  No.  But by coming out strong in the first half, they let the crowd get into it, gave the offense a chance to build a lead, and made a stand in the extra period.   

He said Defense Grade:  B

She Said: Coaching Overall:

Wins are fun.  It makes Sunday’s more fun and writing He Said, She Said WAY more enjoyable.  I’m sure the coaches are having some fun as well.  

Everything they’ve been telling the players and coaching them to do gets legitimized in a win.  It makes going back into the film room easier and I expect there is a spring to everyone’s step today.

Is this the ‘flip’ we’ve heard Andersen talk about? I don’t think we’re quite there yet, but it is a major step in the right direction and gives the Beavers some much needed confidence.

Big kudos to Kevin McGiven and T.J. Woods for dialing up some creative play calls.  

Kevin Clune also gets a shoutout for his defensive game plan, which had Cal completely stymied at times.

That was fun...let’s keep it up.

She said grade:  A

He said: Coaching/Overall:


That first Pac-12 win was a long time coming for Gary Andersen and Company.  It’s has to feel good.   He was definitely hyped after the game.

The offensive coordinators dialed up a nice game plan.  They stuck with the run game and it paid off big, with the most ever rush yards by a Beaver team against a conference opponent.

The defensive game plan was solid, but did show some weakness in the second half against Cal’s run audibles.   

As Angie notes, the win legitimizes to the team (players AND coaches) that what they’ve been doing for the last year and a half can lead to success.

We saw the program take a big step in the right direction on Saturday night in Corvallis.

While one conference win in the grand scheme of things isn’t much, it’s a start.  

To see the team competing with a conference foe was refreshing.   We hadn’t seen a competitive game against a Pac-12 team in Reser, for nearly a year, since the Colorado game last October.

Keeping the team together and focused heading into the overtime was impressive.  Cal had all the momentum at that point and there was no one feeling sorry for themselves on the Oregon State sideline.

With another home game this upcoming weekend, against a team that Andersen knows well, let’s see if the Beavers can capitalize on this win and take another step forward.  

He said grade:  B

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