Raju's Take: Sticking With What Works

BeaverBlitz columnist and writer Raju Woodward takes a look at last weekend's win over Cal.

474.

That’s how many rushing yards the Beavers amassed en route to earning their first Pac-12 win in nearly two years Saturday evening, in overtime to boot! Who would’ve thought the Beavers would win? Much less by putting up the most rushing yards against a conference opponent in program history.

That, my friends, is what you call sticking to what works!

First off, kudos to OSU’s much-maligned offensive line — it pushed Cal’s front 7 around most of the game, creating massive lanes for the Beavers backs to run through. Yay to Ryan Nall finally breaking out this season and doing it in impressive style, running for a career-high 221 yards and three touchdowns.

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Seriously, the final line of 474 rushing yards and 85 passing yards on offense looks like something out of the Jerry Pettibone era . . . had the wishbone been more successful of course.

Remember more recently, during the latter years of the Mike Riley era, how so many of us lamented the fact that opponents’ quarterbacks were able to hurt us with both their arms and legs, and how nice it would be to have a QB who could extend plays with his legs?

Well, it appears as if the Beavers finally have a running threat in Darrell Garretson. The embattled QB gained 105 yards and rushed for two touchdowns, the last of which, a 16-yard scamper, gave the Beavers their dramatic win.

Despite his struggles passing the ball this season, Garretson’s running ability has been impressive — he’s smart about when to run the ball, and usually gets solid gains when he takes off. He averaged 10.5 yards a carry against Cal. Imagine how dangerous Garretson will be once he’s on the same page as his receivers and can deliver the ball downfield more consistently …

Hats off to the coaches for identifying early on that the Beavers could run against Cal, and sticking with the running game. Yes, they went a little conservative later in the game, but for the most part, the play calling was fantastic. I mean, you can’t argue with the results.

It resulted in the big win that this program needed, from the players to the coaches to the fans — and big picture-wise, it showed the type of improvement that is needed as the Beavers continue to rebuild.  After its performance against Colorado, no unit was more improved than the OSU secondary. 

To hold Davis Webb, who was putting up video game numbers, to 113 yards passing and no touchdowns was amazing. I don’t care if Webb wasn’t 100 percent, that’s still freakin’ fantastic. Shout out to Treston Decoud, who is playing himself into an NFL career. He shut down Cal standout Chad Hansen, holding him to 16 yards on four catches. No Golden Bears receiver had more than 40 yards on the game.

And more great news, it’s just as easy to point to other players and groups that showed marked improvement Saturday, be it the offensive line, the running backs, and the receivers … who sprung some terrific blocks that led to some of the Beavers’ huge runs. Numbers don’t always tell the entire story, right?

Yes, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The passing game must get going, as there will be teams such as Utah this Saturday that will be much stronger against the run. Eighty-five yards isn’t going to cut it most weeks. And the Beavers’ front seven needs to get better against the run. Hard to believe but they gave up 317 yards on the ground to Cal, a team not known for running the ball.

At the same time, this game went a long ways toward showing that this staff can make tough, but needed adjustments, and more importantly, put their players in position to succeed — also known as determining what works, sticking with it, and resisting the urge to get cute, and finishing strong!

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how the Beavers build on this win, and come out against the Utes. I’m hoping it’s with crispness, authority, and successfully through the air.

For now, though, last weekend is definitely one to savor. Amazing fall weather, a loud Reser Stadium, a long-deserved win, and of course, the continued fall of the House of Uncle Phil. Sorry, couldn’t resist the urge to go all Poe on you guys…  

It’s a great day to be a Beaver!


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