Play of the game.
Early in the first quarter with the Beavers up 7-0, defensive end Jeff Van Orsow sacked Chris Peerboom to force the Eagles to go three and out. Sammie Stroughter then took Ryan Dockers 40-yard punt and raced up the sidelines for 32 yards to the Eagle 23 yard line. Once again the Beaver offense had a short field. Two plays later Matt Moore found tight end Joe Newton in the endzone for a 21-yard touchdown.
Players of the game.
Offense - RB Yvenson Bernard stutter-stepped, juked and weaved through the Eastern Washington defense for 124 yards and two touchdowns in just about two quarters of playing time. OrangeAttack described Bernard's running style as, "filthy" and I couldn't agree more.
Defense - The entire defense turned in a fine performance as they forced three fumbles and one interception. CB Keenan Lewis stood out to me. He was not thrown at that often but when he was he was all over the receiver. The aspect that impressed me was his physicality at the line of scrimmage where he knocked the receivers off of their routes.
Special teams - Sammie Stroughter showed the speed and field vision that he displayed in fall camp and took one punt for a 51-yard touchdown that included a wicked shoulder fake at the end leaving the EWU punter contorted and grasping at air. He also had a nifty 32 yard return that set up a scoring drive. Stroughter's punt return was the first time a Beaver returned a punt for a touchdown since 1993 when Cole Clasen did it against Arizona State.
Driving the bus.
Before the home opener Moore told the Gazette Times, ""I want to spread the ball around and have long successful drives. Keep turnovers low — zero. I just want to drive the bus, as we say." Moore certainly drove the bus Thursday completing an efficient 7 of 14 for 88 yards and two touchdowns. The senior quarterback didn't have much field to work with at first though as the team's first three scoring drives covered a combined 64 yards in nine plays.
Due to the short field, the offense hadn't really done that much for the majority of the first and second quarter. After Ryan Cole's 9-yard touchdown late in the second quarter Moore took his team on an commanding 13-play, 80-yard drive that took five minutes and thirty six seconds. During that drive the team converted three third downs, getting two of them through the air and one on the ground.
QB controversy? No way.
Due to the blowout redshirt freshman Sean Canfield received his first collegiate snap just a few minutes into the second quarter. He almost completed a touchdown on the first pass of his career, but under threw a streaking Wheat-Brown down the middle of the field. Canfield redeemed himself though just a few plays later on the same passing play where he found Wheat-Brown on a diving catch for a 35-yard touchdown, a 35 point lead, and the first six points of his career.
Canfield finished with 177 yards on 11 of 15 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Third string quarterback Ryan Gunderson, who threw two touchdowns in 2005, received several snaps completing a pass for nine yards. Moore did not take a snap in the second half.
Expanding the playbook.
Many fans thought coach Riley would keep the playbook simple against the Eagles splitting out three receivers and lining up Bernard in the backfield. But the team showed a variety of plays and formations including the toss sweep, which was rarely used a year ago, the I-formation, with fullback Micah Strickland leading the way, and a bunch triangle formation that they run a wide receiver reverse out of.
The most successful play of the night was the bootleg with quarterback's Matt Moore and Sean Canfield rolling out several times with nobody around and the receivers with one on one coverage. Anthony Wheat-Brown did a particularly nice job on these routes getting a good 3 yard separation from his defender.
Not much went wrong against the Eagles but there were a couple of personal fouls. Safety Daniel Drayton and cornerback Coye Francies were both flagged in the second quarter for personal fouls. Riley was clearly not pleased as he gave both an earful.
Everyone gets to play.
The game was in hand early and that means playing time for everyone. Scholarship freshman that participated were TE Howard Croom, LB Keaton Kristick, P Kyle Loomis, FB Micah Strickland and TE John Reese.
Many walk ons, including CB Greg Layborn, who could be a special team's standout, and S Austin Hall participated on kickoff coverage. The second string defense got a lot of work early as the first string defensive line and secondary would play with the second string linebackers. Then the first string linebackers would come in and the second string secondary and first string defensive line would play.
Moore did not take a snap and Bernard only carried the ball three times.
One point of emphasis during the off-season for the secondary was being more physical. The physical nature of the defense was obvious on Gerard Lawson's nasty hit or when Al Afalava lowered his shoulder a couple of times. The cornerbacks did a nice job at the line of scrimmage too.
Oregon State dominated from the start to the finish. Here are some statistics.
- The 56 points were the most scored by
Oregon State in the first game of a season since it hung 76 on Willamette in
a 1931 shutout.
- The Beavers scored 35
points in the first 19 minutes.
- Eastern had only 126 yards of offense, its
lowest total since 1995, while Oregon State finished with 483. The
Eagles had only 94 yards of offense in the first half. Bernard had 107
yards by himself at halftime.
- The Eagles finished with -14 rushing, the
Eagle's lowest total in the last 20 years and the Beavers' fourth-best ever
against the run.
- EWU converted only 1 of 13 third downs.
- The Beavers sacked the Eagles five times, 23-percent of last year's total (22).
RB Yvenson Bernard
On the game - "It was a good start. I think we'll be all right this year. We made a few mistakes, but it wasn't easy. They came out hard and wanted to shock somebody. We just came out harder. I felt a little rusty. I haven't had contact since the Oregon game. It's definitely a different feeling on the body. It was good to get adjusted to that, and the second game is going to be a little better. I had my one mistake (a fumble), but it was fun to get a few hits in. I can always improve, but the team did great."
On the offense - "I think we are going to be all right this year. Obviously we had a few mistakes, but that is to be expected in the first game."
On Newton - "Joe is going to make a difference in the red zone. He had a great night."
QB Matt Moore
On the game plan - "Our whole thing was to play our game and don't beat ourselves. Regardless of who the opponent is, if we come out and execute, we'll be all right. And it turned out the way it did, so it was nice."
On the younger players getting to play -
"It was great to see a lot of the young guys get in and show what they can do,"
On the short field - "We came out really excited, and we were fortunate to have the short field three times. It was a great way to start the game. It was a great way to start the season."
On having all of the offensive weapons - "We have all those things now and that just opens the door. It's huge how much you can do out of that formation, because I can remember numerous times we were inside the three-yard line last year and didn't score. Thank God for Alexis, but we want to put six on the board."
LB Derrick Doggett
"We wanted to make sure they weren't going to be able to run on us. We wanted to swamp them in their backfield. It was a great game. The defensive line stepped it up. I think the defense can be pretty good. We just have to keep improving this next week."
TE Joe Newton
On the game - "It was great to be back. This was a perfect way to start. The defense put us in good position, and the offense capitalized on it. It was a ton of fun, and a pleasure to be back out there with my teammates"
On his first touchdown - "It was a corner post. It was weird being out there at first. It had been so long since I'd been in a game. But after awhile it came back to me. It was just so much fun to be out there playing football again."
Coach Mike Riley
On the game - "I liked the spirit and physical play. We have a lot of work to do on the technical parts of it, but it was good energy and a good win. We're just glad to win the game. That's all we wanted to do, and hopefully can build on it. There's plenty for us to improve on. We did accomplish the very most important thing, and that was win."
On the early turnovers - "We played fresh and fast and physical. I think some of those things happened at the start of the game because we were really, really, really ready and forced turnovers. I thought we were overwhelming for them early."
On Moore - "I thought he played efficiently and that was what he had to do at quarterback. I thought he did very well tonight."
On Canfield getting in early - "Canfield was going into the game in the second quarter regardless, but I won't make any commitment about doing it week to week."
On Canfield's interception - "Sean was really good except for the interception. There was no reason for that."
On Newton's play - "We got some plays tonight that we didn't get last year."
On Boise State - "It's a giant step up obviously to go over there and play," Riley said. "It will be a great matchup. I'm really looking forward to taking our team over there."
- PK Alexis Serna has made 69 extra
points in a row. He boomed several kickoffs out of
the back of the endzone with the wind at his back.
- CB Keenan Lewis tweaked his already
sore ankle and sat out most of the second half. He is not expected to
miss any playing time.
- S Sabby Piscitelli lined up as a
gunner on punts a couple of times. His intercpetion was the 11th of
his career, tying him for the national lead among current players. The
great thing about his pick was he made sure he had the ball before making a
move. A sign of a veteran.
- WR Ruben Jackson's 67-yard
touchdown was a thing of beauty as he slipped through the hands of a couple
of Eagle defenders and turned on the jets. Speed kills. Jackson
had a good night blocking as well as he cleared the way for Bernard's
- TE Joe Newton set a school record
for tight end touchdowns with 10 passing the old record set by Tim Euhus.
Believe it or not it was just the second multiple touchdown game of his
career, but certainly not his last. Newton also doubled the amount of
touchdowns caught by a tight end from 2005. Jason Vandiver and Dan Haines did not have a TD last season.
- WR Taylor Kavanaugh returned two
punts. He fielded one for 9 yards and far caught another one.
- As expected freshman punter Kyle Loomis
had an up and down day. He averaged 28.4 yards per punt with a best of
43 yards and a worst of 10.
- Former Beaver Ryan Cole gained just
29 yards on 13 carries and did not play that much in the second half.
- The Beavers won the toss and deferred.
- OSU was a perfect 4 of 4 in the redzone,
all of them were touchdowns.
- The 38,071 crowd was the smallest since
Reser Stadium was expanded before the 2005 season.