Also, let me add that it is okay after a devastating loss to ask questions.
To wonder why the coaches didn't put Lyle Moevao in earlier. To ponder why they
didn't throw the ball downfield more. To discuss what went wrong. That's what
makes us fans. That's why following college football, and sports in general,
is so fun - the lively debates and discussions.
On the other hand, after one loss, especially after what happened last year, declaring that you are going to sell your season tickets, hunt down Mike Riley and give him a piece of your mind or call out the players is going overboard.
To gain some perspective on this situation, please step back a few months with me, to before the start of the season, before the Beavers were at .500, and before those, ummm, beautiful new uniforms were unveiled.
Oregon State was coming off of a 10 win season winning eight of their last nine contests. OSU won every close game in thrilling fashion and a large part of that success can be firmly placed on quarterback Matt Moore's experienced, game worn shoulders. Pac-10 history proves, time and time again that a senior quarterback in means success in the Conference of Champions, and that's just what the Beavers got with Moore. The funny thing is that many of the fans of the Orange and Black have seemed to forget that.
But, the fans looking through orange colored glasses say we have one top offensive lines in the nation? I say it doesn't matter if you can't complete passes. But, we have one of the best running backs in the nation? Doesn't matter if you can't find an open receiver. But, but, we have a great defense with loads of experience, they will surely keep us in the game? Okay, I agree with that one.
The problem that I see, is that Beavers fans have ignored the fact that the team has a new quarterback with one game of starting experience under his belt. It doesn't matter that he has been in the system for three years. It doesn't matter that he looks great in practice. Facing a defense that is not your own is different, no matter how good the defense he faces in practice is.
The speed of the game changes. The defense is more aggressive. There aren't a few hundred fans on the sidelines, there are tens of thousands. And the list goes on and on. These are just a few of the reasons why experienced quarterbacks, especially seniors, excel.
Other factors that Beaver Nation has overlooked are Sammie Stroughter not practicing for 18 days and Jeremy Perry being knocked out of the lineup. Just like you, I wish, I hoped, I prayed that Stroughter would return in glorious fashion, sparking his team to a victory in grand fashion with a dazzling array of catches and punt returns, but it just wasn't meant to be.
The first called play of the game was brilliant as Sean Canfield zipped a perfect ball to Stroughter streaking down the field, but it slipped through his hands - a catch that he will make nine out of ten times. Running back to the huddle, Stroughter glanced at his hands in disbelief. The old Stroughter would have had a huge smile on his face, looking forward to another opportunity, this Stroughter simply stared at his hands wondering what happened.
The loss of Perry on the left side hurt the Beavers both mentally and physically - something I personally underestimated. The offensive line was just plain dominated by Cincinnati's defensive line and they just seemed to take it. The fire, the passion, the aggressiveness that was supposed to characterize this offensive line was gone. The only player that brought some attitude was Tavita Thompson.
And the final major factor that Beavers fans have overlooked is Riley's teams have at least have one or two blowout games a year and for whatever reason that game is usually early in the season, on the road and nationally televised. I don't think we have to accept a blowout loss on the road each year, but if I had my choice of a blowout early or late in the season, I would most assuredly take the blowout losses to Louisville, Boise State and Cincinnati on the road in the first half of the year than ugly home losses against Arizona and Stanford late in the season.
The good news is there are better days ahead. Stroughter will get back into playing shape. Perry will return to the lineup. And Canfield will continue to learn and improve.
Coach Riley has taken Oregon State to bowl games in three of the last four seasons, has never lost in the postseason and has given us one of the most exciting seasons in school history last year. He is a Oregon native with passion for Beaver football and his players.
This early in the season Riley deserves our support and the benefit of the doubt - he has earned it.
Dan Norz is the publisher of BeaverFootball.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.