Play of the game.
It was a horrible series for the Beavers that proved to be the deciding factor. With under three minutes to go and down seven points the Oregon State offense took the ball to Washington State's 26 yard line, but then linebacker Scott Davis took over. On first and 10 Davis sacked Moore for a seven yard loss. On third and seven Davis hit Moore as he was throwing and on fourth and seven Davis came through untouched sacking Moore to end the Beavers comeback.
Player of the game.
Offense - WR Sammie Stroughter had six catches for a career high 124 yards, including a 31-yard pass from Moore.
Defense - LB Alan Darlin and the entire defense. Darlin led OSU with 10 tackles turning in his best performance of the year as he played fast. The defensive line pressured QB Alex Brink all night against a talented offensive line while stopping the run.
Special teams - PR Sammie Stroughter and P Kyle Loomis. Stroughter was electric returning four punts for 100 yards while being just inches away from taking one to the house. Loomis turned in another fine performance averaging 48.3 yards per kick on five attempts. He has now averaged 48 yards per kick in his last two games.
Mixing it up.
For the first time this season the Oregon State defense showed the nickel package and it worked. Most of the Beavers' five sacks can be directly attributed to the nickel package shutting down the passing lanes. The package consisted of three defensive lineman, three linebackers, two cornerbacks and three safeties. Bryan Payton served as the third safety.
The coaches also subbed in a lot more players as four players ran on and off the field almost every play. The defensive players exhibited the most energy yet as they played fast, celebrated with each other and generally looked like they were having fun. As mentioned above Darlin turned in his best performance of the year and so did Joey LaRocque who recorded seven tackles. Instead of having him cover receivers out the backfield or the receiver in the slot, he would blitz every time the Beavers were in the nickel.
The defensive line was anchored by outstanding play from Curtis Coker, William Vea, who recorded his teaming leading third sack on the year, and Dorian Smith, who should be starting over Joe Lemma soon. Despite recording just one tackle CB Keenan Lewis had a super game as he locked down his receiver. Brink would look Lewis' way, but would most of the time turn and throw on Brandon Hughes, who had a rough game locating the ball.
Bottom line, the players brought a lot of much needed energy and Mark Banker did an outstanding job of mixing up the schemes and putting his players in the right situations to succeed.
The offense has been mediocre at best this season and Saturday's performance against Washington State was the worst yet. For the first time in nine years (23-0 loss to USC in 1997) Oregon State did not score a touchdown at Reser Stadium. The six points where the fewest by the Beavers since the 49-7 loss to California at home in 2004 and second fewest in the Riley era part II. And even worse OSU has just 19 points in two conference contests. But the ugly statistics don't end there.
The Men in Black converted just 3 of 12 on third downs dropping their season conversion rate to 34.9-percent, third lowest in the Pac-10. They also managed just 287 total yards, averaged 2.3 yards per rush and gave up six sacks, including two in the last series of the game.
Much of the blame for the offensive woes have been placed on QB Matt Moore and coach Mike Riley, but the receivers are partly to blame. None of the receivers, except Stroughter, are getting separation from their defenders. The Oregonian's Brian Meehan put it best, "Except for Sammie Stroughter, the OSU receivers looked as if they were running in mud. They separated from Cougar defenders about as well as a kindergartner separates from mom on the first day of school."
Not once have we seen a receiver wide open. And due to the receivers not creating any seperation from their defenders it requires Moore to be extremely accurate on every single throw which may explain why he is hesitant to throw down field and holds onto the ball too long.
Giving up on the run?
Riley has always preached a balanced attack, but his 2006 team has been far from balanced between the pass and the run. Against California RB Yvenson Bernard carried the ball just 17 times with only six touches coming in the first half. The trend continued against WSU as Bernard had again just 17 carries.
It is true that teams are stacking the line to stop the run, but with an experienced offensive line and running back the Beavers should be rushing at least 30 times a game. Bernard should at least be getting 20-25 carries a game and it would be nice to see Clinton Polk and/or Patrick Fuller get 10 carries a game. Fuller's only playing time was against the season opener against Eastern Washington. Polk has played more than Fuller, but only in mop up time.
Although Bernard is averaging five yards a carry he has had a difficult time holding onto the ball. He has fumbled in four of the five games with his last two coming inside the red zone killing drives at critical times. Some of his fumbles might be attributed to him juking too much in traffic. It seems he is not hitting the hole quickly, something that plagued Ken Simonton's senior season. Perhaps he is trying to do too much.
Talk in the stands.
Surprisingly there were not a lot of loud boos directed at Moore or Riley, or chants for the backup quarterback. But the "Can Riley" banner returned again, this time being hoisted up by fans in the student section. There were also inflatable beach balls being hit by the crowd with "Fire Riley!" scribbled on them in black permanent marker.
Despite the lack of a collective chant, the Moore vs. Canfield banter permeated the stands and some choice words were yelled at Riley by some inebriated fans.
Renovated Reser not kind to Beavers.
One of the slogans for Raising Reser was: "A once in a lifetime an event comes along that can change a generation..." It is true that the event is changing a generation. Unfortunately it is changing a generation into a bunch of bitter fans of the orange and black who are used to seeing their team get beat at home in conference play.
Since the opening of the renovated Reser the Beavers have defeated just one Pac-10 opponent (WSU 44-33 on Oct. 1, 2005) compiling a 1-4 record with embarrassing losses against Stanford and Arizona in 2005. Before the renovation, OSU had a stellar home record going 3-2 in 2004, 6-1 in 2003, 6-1 in 2002, 4-1 in 2001, 6-0 in 2000, and 5-1 in 1999.
There is another trend there as well. Dennis Erickson's teams always played well at home. While at OSU and playing at home Erickson was 15-2. In the Riley era OSU is 16-15 in Corvallis (3-4 in 1997, 3-3 in 1998, 3-3 in 2005, see above for other Riley years).
This and that.
- QB Matt Moore's 31-yard completion to Sammie Stroughter
in the second quarter was his longest pass completion this season. It was
Moore's first completion over 25 yards in 2006.
- KOR Coye Francies continues to do a nice job returning
kickoffs. He had three returns for 74 yards for a 24.7 average and one feels
that he is close to breaking a big one.
- LB Derrick Doggett added his second interception of the
year as he picked off a pass in the red zone.
- PK Alexis Serna moved into fourth place in career scoring
at OSU with 212 points. Serna can score the most by a kicker by the end of
the season, trailing only Ryan Cesca (1999-2002) with 219.
RB Ken Simonton (1998-2001) is the overall leader with 366.
He kicked field goals of 42 and 41, but missed from 52 yards out. Serna has
made 5 of 8 on the season
- Three of the Beavers five turnovers happened on Washington State's side
of the field. At one point the Beavers and Cougars had three consecutive turnovers.
- The Reser crowd of 42,951 was second-largest in stadium history
- Moore took over fourth place in passing yards with 3,493. Thats where
the senior will stay with Erik Wilhelm (1985-88) in third with 9,393. Hes
in ninth in total offense with 3,325.
- RB Yvenson Bernard moved into 16th place in OSU career
all-purpose yards with 2,458.
- According to the Gazette Time, Taani Fuahala, a freshman
defensive lineman, has walked on.. Hes a 5-foot-11, 254-pounder from
Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He played football and was on the track team at Loyola
DE Joe Lemma
On the game - "We're just a few inches away from breaking it open, but we didn't get it done. We're pretty frustrated. You'd like to think that you'd win. (after holding a team to 13 points) Washington States also a good defense (so) we have to do better. It wasnt good enough."
On getting frustrated with the offense - "I dont get frustrated because were all in this together. Were here together. I just have to watch the tape, watch Washington and see where I can possibly intercept a pass and take it to the house for a touchdown, stuff like that.
QB Matt Moore
On the game - "They were playing defense, nothing we hadn't seen or expected. They werent doing anything special. They played hard. We just had some mishaps. Just credit Washington State."
Did the offense give up? - We were taking shots, and our defense was playing well. The offense didn't quit. I know that. You can say that happened, but I think we gave it 100 percent until the end and it just didn't fall our way."
On the game ending sack - ""I really took a lick. I was trying to get out of there and make something happen, but it happened so quick. I've definitely got a little headache. There's no point in me throwing the ball. I throw the ball, he lights me up and who knows where it goes? So I was trying to get out of there and make something happen, but it happened so quickly."
On the QB controversy - I know theres talk about it. Im not going to lie. Some of the things I hear from the crowd gets to me for a second. But Im trying to take the team down the field and score, so its not bothering me. And besides, Im the first person who will say Sean has all the ability in the world.
SS Sabby Piscitelli
On the game - "We had the energy, the enthusiasm and the competitiveness, but I guess it's back to basics. We win as a team, we lose as a team. The defense put a good effort out on the field. The offense did, too. We came out with a lot of enthusiasm, energy and competitiveness, especially the defense. We were assignment sound and our front seven did a great job with pressure. Brink was running for his life out there.
WR Sammie Stroughter
On the game - "We had misfortunes, missed opportunities. Its frustrating. We had some turnovers, and those hurt. I have confidence at every position in our offense. Its a matter of going out and getting it done in a game, and we havent showed that yet.
On returning punts - I was close to breaking it six inches, maybe. Thats kind of the way its been for us. So close, but yet so far."
Want a quarterback change? - "No, not at all, never. And we can put a firm stand on that 'never.' Matt Moore is the man. He played a heck of a game. He left it all out there. Its just little things, a few inches away. Matt Moore is our leader and we will stick by him no matter what.
TE Joe Newton
On the game - Our defense made huge plays the whole game. They kept us in it. I feel like we wasted an opportunity they gave us. We're headed in the same direction we were after the last game (a 41-13 loss to California)."
MLB Alan Darlin
On the substitutions - It keeps guys fresh and gives more people game experience. It gives us a chance to see the game from the sidelines and to get us coached up a little bit.