Fans will point out that we’re only two games into the season, and there is lot of football left to play. Some will say that, while the game against Sacramento State was ugly in terms of focus and overall execution, they did put a shellacking on the 1AA team. Others will say that the Fresno State game has turned into a heated rivalry and anything can happen. I’m a fan and I say those very things myself. That is, until I look again at the Beaver team that was on the field the first two games.
Yes, Steven Jackson is amazing and looks to be living up to the lofty expectations others have set for him. Yes, James Newson is also amazing and is the other guy that will make a play when the Beavers need it. Yes, watching Mike Hass emerge is exciting. And yes, there are other bright spots on the roster. Why then do the Beavers look to be in trouble? The offense is missing the crucial link that makes any team a power to contend with: a leader.
|Anderson needs to become the Beavers' leader on the offfesive side of the ball for Oregon State to win.|
Jackson and Newson provide leadership, no question. Others do the same. But the one position every offensive player looks to, every fan looks to, and every observer looks to, doesn’t seem to be able to provide it.
You know where I’m going with this, you’re already vigorously agreeing or vehemently disagreeing. Some of you are thinking I should back off so as to not draw any unneeded attention to the deficiency and possibly make the situation worse. All this and I haven’t even written it yet. But all of you, every single one of you, know where I’m going with this. It is, of course, the quarterback position.
There is a leadership vacuum at the quarterback position for the Beavers. This vacuum manifests itself many ways.
For example, look at Derek Anderson’s posture as he leaves the field after an unsuccessful series: head down, the half limp jog shuffle, his shoulders droop and there is a lack of confidence in his eyes that you see when the camera zooms in on him as he shambles his way to the sideline. A lack of confidence naturally morphs into a lack of leadership. It’s not this hack’s swipe at the Beaver signal caller; it’s a fact. Whether you agree or disagree with anything else, surely you’ll concede that point.
Want proof? You need only to watch Anderson’s reaction after throwing the 39-yard strike to Hass in the third quarter against the Bulldogs. Was his fist pumping in the air knowing it was just a matter of time? No. Did he have a look of fire in his eyes, knowing the tide was turning and his team was about to open the throttle on the opponents that were toying with the dynamite that is the Beavers’ explosive offense? No.
|"Anderson has been a leader; he’s shown it as a prep athlete and he showed it as a sophomore last season in the first four starts of his collegiate career. He just seems to have forgotten. He can be a leader again."|
What reaction did this player that everyone turns to when the pressure to deliver is high have? What reaction did he provide when his team needed that calming confidence to keep them believing? His two hands were in the air, head back, looking skyward, with that unmistakable, half sarcastic body language of ‘finally something went right and it’s about time.’ Look at the replay if you can, there is no denying it. That’s not confidence and that’s not leadership, that’s capitulation.
I know it’s got to be difficult to exude confidence when you’re well on your way to a 15 for 44 night. I know it’s got to be difficult to be the guy everyone is looking at to be the rock when you throw five picks. But that is the role of the QB.
Anderson has been a leader; he’s shown it as a prep athlete and he showed it as a sophomore last season in the first four starts of his collegiate career. He just seems to have forgotten. He can be a leader again.
The kid from Scappoose is the most talented quarterback Oregon State has had this side of Terry Baker, or at least Erik Wilhelm. He just has to remember it, and coach Mike Riley better help him do that in the next week, or the Beavers are going to be in trouble.
Robert Nesta joined BeaverFootball.com in 2003. The views expressed in his column are not necessarily those of the BeaverFootball.com staff. Nesta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.