Much like 2006, Oregon State stumbled early in the year, particularly with turnovers, but the Beavers are peaking at the right time and with Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon sidelined, OSU may head into the Civil War Dec. 1 in Eugene as the favorite.
Due to an opportunistic defense and a couple big plays, the Beavers really only had to have one “drive” in the game – which just happened to be their first possession.
On that first possession, OSU moved the ball 76 yards in 11 plays, converting on third down three times. Starting quarterback Lyle Moevao completed a 10-yard pass to true freshman receiver Darrell Catchings on third-and-four. Then, on third-and-15, Moevao completed a 20-yard pass to Catchings, and later in the drive on third-and-one, Yvenson Bernard rushed for 22 yards to setup first and goal. Moevao capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run one play later.
In six other touchdown drives, Oregon State had a total of 25 plays for 238, an average 4.17 plays and 39.67 yards – if only every game could be like that.
Receiver James Rodgers seemed to be a bigger part of the game plan than he has been at any point in the season. Rodgers ran eight times for 29 yards, including his first collegiate touchdown. Rodgers also caught five passes for 65 yards, perhaps a sign of things to come.
The Beavers offense was effective throughout the game – especially on third down. OSU converted 10-of-21 third down opportunities, their second best sucess rate this year. The team converted on third down 6-of-7 tries in the first quarter, 2-of-6 tries in the second, 0-of-4 in the third, and 2-of-4 in the fourth.
Four times when the team did not convert, the yardage was significant – 16, 15, 14, and 29 – when a team does convert in those situations, like the Beavers did on their first drive of the game on that third-and-15 play, it is all icing on the cake.
Moevao had a very solid game and more so, head coach Mike Riley called a great game and put the team and the quarterback in a position to succeed time and time again. Riley used Rodgers at the right times. The passes that Moevao threw seemed to be safe, he was 15-of-28 for 202 yards on the day. I like Sean Canfield a lot, but right now Moevao is playing really well and if both players are healthy going into Civil War I’m not sure which player I’d rather see under center.
Looking ahead to next season for the quarterback position, Riley should take a good hard look at what Florida did last year with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow and think about a similar situation. I would like to see Canfield start, but have Moevao in the game in certain situations.
We know Lyle can run, we should use that to our advantage and add that extra dynamic to the offense, especially since the 2008 Beavers will be breaking in a new group of tailbacks.
As for this game against Wazzu, four tailbacks, Bernard (senior), Clinton Polk (senior), Matt Sieverson (senior), and Patrick Fuller (sophomore), carried the ball a total of 35 times for 189 yards. Add that Rodgers had eight carries for 29 yards, Andy Stewart had two carries for 4 yards and Moevao had three carries for 2 yards, and that tells me the offensive line had one heck of a game – not that I needed stats to tell me that. Of course the team does lose a couple key members of that line going into next season, but with the players coming back, the Oregon State offensive line looks to be in good shape for years to come.
This has been an up-and-down season for the Beavers, and right now the team is on a tremendous up swing with five wins in their last six games.
I truly believe with the strength of our defense, if our offensive line plays like it is capable of playing and if turnovers are kept to a minimum, this Oregon State team can compete with any team in the country.
Jake Schubert is a new/old contributor to BeaverFootball.com. He writes for the Newport News-Times in Newport, Oregon and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jake has been to every home football at OSU for eight consecutive years and he is looking to make it nine this year.