Pregame - Not dressed out in pads, standing on the sideline during pregame warm-ups: redshirt sophomore center Alex Fletcher and redshirt freshman inside linebacker Fred Campbell. If they were questionable/doubtful, you can mark them down now as "out" for today's game.
Pregame - Walking out to midfield are today's game captains: redshirt junior quarterback T.C. Ostrander, fifth-year senior strong safety Trevor Hooper, senior free safety/cornerback Brandon Harrison and redshirt sophomore cornerback Wopamo Osaisai. Harrison and Hooper sure have trotted out as captains for the Cardinal quite a few games this year.
12:36pm - Stanford is ready to kickoff. Nice to see Osaisai on the kickoff coverage team. He practiced much more this week than last week and hopefully will be available for the breadth of his duties on defense as well as special teams today... Oregon State runs the kickoff back from the goalline to the 26, but a flag for holding brings them back to the 10. Not a bad start for the Stanford defense with field position. Stanford will be outmatched on both sides of the ball today, and field position (plus turnovers) can be their salvation.
12:37 - Defensive starters of note include senior Michael Okwo and redshirt sophomore Pat Maynor at the inside linebacker positions. Also Osaisai is starting at cornerback, with redshirt junior Nick Sanchez on the opposite side. That moves senior Brandon Harrison back to free safety after playing cornerback last week.
12:39 - Beavers burn a timeout on second down - already? Hmm...
12:40 - Stanford is in their "magic" defense of six DBs, with redshirt junior cornerback Tim Sims and redshirt freshman safety Bo McNally onto the field. OSU runs the ball with Yvenson Bernard and picks up a first down on a seven-yard carry.
12:41 - The Beavs pass for the first time today, on 2nd & 10. Stanford had good coverage with their base defense, and redshirt junior defensive end Chris Horn got pressure that forced Matt Moore to throw away.
12:42 - Hooper comes on a blitz from the left side of the defense and plows Moore into the grass for a seven-yard sack. Oregon State will punt after seven net yards of offense. Excellent start for the defense.
12:43 - Redshirt freshman Chris Hobbs returns a 37-yard punt six yards. He caught the ball with two Beavers right in his grill, and evaded them to dart ahead for the pickup. That's a ball he fair catches just a month ago, for certain. The youngster is gaining comfort in his position.
12:44 - Offensive starters of note: fifth-year senior offensive guard Josiah Vinson, redshirt junior center Mikal Brewer, redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chris Marinelli and redshirt junior wide receiver Evan Moore. More on those in a moment... First down pass from Ostrander hits Sherman on the left side for a nine-yard pickup... Vinson and Marinelli were two of Stanford's three starters on the offensive line out last week (with Fletcher the third), and it's good to see them back. Brewer starts a second straight game at center with Fletcher out. Interesting to see Moore starting. This is his first start since September.
12:45 - Wow! On 2nd & 1, Stanford picks up not only the short-yardage first down they were incapable of collecting last week. Redshirt sophomore tailback Anthony Kimble bounces behind the pile and bursts through for a 36-yard touchdown. OSU's #12 (linebacker Isaiah Cook) put his hands on Kimble but could not wrap up in the second level of the defense, and then Kimble was gone! After a historic stretch of weeks and games without an offensive touchdown, Stanford puts its second on the board in two weeks. And they do it today on their second play on offense. That, by the way, is Kimble's second rushing touchdown this season. Stanford 7, Oregon State 0. I'm stunned by this start.
12:47 - Oregon State has much better field position to start their second possession. A short, high kickoff is run back to the 37.
12:49 - OSU moves themselves back on another penalty for 2nd & 13. We know their predilection for penalties in games of recent years... They still manage to pick up the first down on a 16-yard catch and run.
12:50 - The Beavers throw deep for the first time today, heaving down inside the 20-yardline to Ruben Jackson. He has Sanchez beat, but the ball is just long for his diving grasp.
12:51 - Hooper comes on a blitz on third down, but Moore gets it away quickly enough to Brandon Powers, who gobbles up 17 yards. Oregon State is already to the Stanford 28.
12:52 - Just like that, Oregon State ties it up. Moore hits Sammie Stroughter on a 28-yard touchdown just outside the goalline against Osaisai. My suspicion this week was that Oregon State would succeed in throwing against Stanford. The Cardinal pass defense ranks second in the Pac-10, but they are not the second-best pass defense in the league in my estimation. The Beavers probably believe the same and are on a fast road to proving as much today. Moore was 3-of-4 for 61 yards on that fast-scoring drive. Stanford 7, Oregon State 7.
12:56 - Redshirt freshman tight end Erik Lorig is on the field to start this second series. His playing time and opportunities are increasing. Kimble is still in backfield (behind redshirt junior fullback Nnoli). We have often seen Gerhart rotate at tailback on a second series, though the opening drive was just two plays... Two yards for Kimble up the middle on first down.
12:57 - Nnoli goes out and freshman wide receiver Austin Yancy comes into the game for a three-wide formation. Moore is stacked behind Yancy. Bubble screen? Both Moore and Yancy run up the field instead, and Sherman crosses from the other side and catches an 18-yard gainer from Ostrander, who rolls out.
12:58 - Ostrander throws the intended bubble screen on this play to Sherman behind a blocker, but the ball is high and behind him, which makes it a lateral. Sherman leaps to grab the ball, but is off-balance and loses three yards. Walt Harris this week specifically praised Ostrander for throwing the ball precisely on these wide receiver screens. Not so good there.
12:59 - On 3rd & 11, Ostrander has plenty of time in the pocket with protection on either side. He throws a ball through three defenders to a crossing Sherman, and the ball incredibly hits its target without any Beavers reaching it. Sherman drops it, however. That was just past the marker, and he would have had room to run for more after the catch. Ouch.
1:02 - Oregon State runs on first down for eight yards with Bernard. This is a very good offense, with talent at all positions. It's a tall test for the Stanford defense.
1:04 - Oregon State is flagged for holding on 1st & 10 on a screen pass. Interesting to watch McNally up on the line of scrimmage.
1:04 - Bernard carries again, and on the second straight play (last one called back on the penalty), it is redshirt freshman outside linebacker Clinton Snyder making the tackle from behind. He makes up for a lot of plays on this defense - a great young talent.
1:05 - Bernard does it by land, and also by air. He catches a little pass out of the backfield and puts a nifty move to beat a diving Sims in the openfield. 12-yard gainer. Oregon State is over 100 yards of offense already.
1:07 - On 1st & 10, it's interesting to see Snyder leave the field. That's rare, and here is why it happened here. Stanford has its magic defense on the field, which puts two DBs in and pulls two LBs out. Normally Snyder stays (with Okwo), but Oregon State has two tight ends. Thus redshirt junior outside linebacker Udeme Udofia remains in the second level.
1:08 - Big reverse by the Beavers for 23 yards. Moore, the quarterback, takes out Sanchez on a lead block. Snyder made the tackle from behind.
1:10 - On 2nd & 7, Snyder pressures Moore, who dumps off easily to Bernard. But Maynor races in and dives at his legs, tripping up the Oregon State back for no gain... That's the end of the quarter. We'll start the second quarter with a big 3rd & 7 on the Stanford 20.
1:14 - On its magic defense, Sanchez is defending Powers and reaches around to bat away the intended pass. Two flags come in, saying he got there early. That looked like a big play for Stanford and draws boos from the home crowd.
1:14 - On 1st & 10 at the 15, the Beavers go back to Powers, open on the right side. Hooper has the angle to knock him out of bounds but strangely shoves him at an angle toward the cone. Signal is a touchdown. That was a sure 10-plus yard gainer, but Hooper made it a touchdown... The play is being reviewed... Ruling stands as a touchdown. Stanford 7, Oregon State 14.
1:17 - The success with which Oregon State can run the ball with a single back and spread the field with its receivers and tight ends, this will be a difficult offense to stop. The pressure is on the Stanford offense to move the ball and score today. There is no margin of error for a dropped pass for a first down, or for a screen pass that wobbles backward for a lateral and loss.
1:20 - Nnoli leaves and Lorig joins redshirt freshman and starting tight end James Dray for a double-tight formation... Ostrander has time, looks and looks and hits Lorig for a nine-yard gain, which includes yardage after running through a tackle. That is, I believe, just Lorig's second reception this year. He's growing and learning how to be a receiver, building on top of his standout blocking ability. At the very least, it is big that Stanford can pass when Lorig is in the game. Earlier in the season, it was a red flag to opposing defenses for a running play when he came off the sideline. That play picked up a first down.
1:22 - Nice back-to-back runs by Gerhart for a combined 12 yards and another first down.
1:22 - Evan Moore has single coverage on the left sideline, and Ostrander heaves deep down to the 10-yardline. Perfect throw is on his outside shoulder, and he brings it to his body with one hand, but he cannot hold onto it as the defender reaches and breaks it up. Moore gets up and looks for a flag. The defender was on his back, but I can't tell from this vantage if it was a foul or clean. It's incomplete but at a minimum a positive that Stanford wants to stretch the field with Moore and nearly hit a home run.
1:23 - Similar play the next down has Ostrander throw to almost the same spot for Sherman in single coverage. He has a step on his receiver, and you can see how effortlessly he runs. But the freshman misjudges the ball slightly, and it is just long. That should have been a reception... There was holding on the play, so it would not have mattered, regardless.
1:24 - Ostrander picks up some of that penalty yardage, turning 2nd & 20 into 3rd & 6 after a nice connection with Sherman coming to the sideline.
1:25 - Ostrander is hit, I believe, for the first time today. And he's hit hard. He barely gets off the pass on third down, which is incomplete to the ground. Stanford will punt the short field and hope to pin the Beavers back... Redshirt junior punter Jay Ottovegio drops it around the 14-yardline, but the ball jumps backward before it is downed on the 19.
1:28 - Stanford blitzes with Harrison on first down from the six-DB set, but he is picked up and presents no threat. Moore hits Stroughter for a 13-yarder to start the drive. Here come the Beavs.
1:30 - On 2nd & 4 (after another first down pickup), Moore throws for Bernard, but McNally races into the picture and hits him right as the ball arrives for a nice breakup.
1:31 - On third down, Oregon State gets nine yards on a pass to Powers against McNally's coverage. I'm nervous about the slotback and tight end for Oregon State today. Those are places where Stanford has been susceptible to give up costly gainers this year in its coverage... Speaking of which, Moore throws the next play deep at the goalline for tight end Joe Newton, but Okwo has coverage and it is incomplete.
1:34 - Bernard runs for five yards on a first down. He already has 75 yards on 13 carries. Oregon State is at an even 100 yards rushing today. And they're completing nearly everything their furry little hearts desire.
1:35 - Bernard is hammered by Okwo behind the line of scrimmage. The play is ruled as no gain, but it looked like a loss. Great play by Okwo.
1:36 - On 3rd & 7, Moore tries for Newton in the endzone on the sideline, and he stretches impressively to grab the ball, but his foot comes down on the chalk and he drops the ball... Alexis Serna hits the 29-yard field goal. Oregon State 17, Stanford 7.
1:37 - With 5:19 left in the half, Stanford needs to give itself some field position on this kickoff so that they can put together a positive drive. At a minimum they need to move the chains a couple times and keep Oregon State from possessing the ball and scoring again. Truthfully, they need to keep up in this foot race and answer with a score.
1:39 - No chance for a return, with that kickoff rolling out of the back of the endzone. The 20 isn't great, though it's better than the average start for Stanford this year after kickoffs (sadly).
1:40 - Stanford opens the drive with two wide and two tights, Kimble is the lone back... Pick-up of just three.
1:42 - Ostrander had his ribs checked after that hit he took last series, and it's worth noting that his throws on second and third downs missed badly. He already has one bad knee. He could be hurting worse today...
1:43 - Meanwhile, here comes Oregon State. Already across midfield. Now Bernard runs for five yards on a first down, to set up 2nd & 5 at the Stanford 40 with 2:40 to go in the half.
1:44 - Bad throw but sensational grab by wide receiver Chris Johnson. The ball was low and behind him to the sideline, and he reached out with one hand to snare it as he fell to the ground. These guys are good. Add another 12 yards to the Beavers' first-half totals on offense, which are over 250 yards.
1:46 - Stanford may have caught a break. Matt Moore threw a ball down his right sideline toward the endzone, well long of the intended receiver. Somehow, Okwo was back there like a safety, got under the ball and leapt to snare it at the sideline. The officials huddle and call it an interception. It will be reviewed because it's questionable whether he landed in bounds... Replay on the monitor shows a foot landing clearly on the chalk. Sure enough, the play is overturned, ruling Okwo was out of bounds and an incompletion.
1:48 - Bernard runs on 3rd & 4 and may be just short, wrapped up by Snyder. It's 4th & 1, and Oregon State lines up like they are going for it on the Stanford 21. Stanford has to hurry to put the right personnel on the field and calls timeout.
1:50 - Moore keeps it and pushes ahead for the first down. We're down to the final minute.
1:52 - Bernard carries on 2nd & 10, breaking tackles by redshirt sophomore defensive end Pannel Egboh, Sanchez and McNally before Hooper hits him. That goes in the book for just two yards, but it's a great piece of work by Bernard. He may have had an ankle problem earlier this season, but he looks fantastic to me today. Oregon State calls a timeout with the half ticking away.
1:54 - Moore wants to pass but has nothing and scrambles. Redshirt freshman nose tackle Ekom Udofia drives him to the ground after two yards. OSU burns another timeout with 26 seconds to go, to set up their field goal unit... I'm nearly positive that is their third timeout, so why does the scoreboard show one remaining?
1:56 - Serna hits the 31-yarder. Oregon State 20, Stanford 7. Minor victories for the Cardinal defense to make stops in the red zone the last two possessions, after being trampled the two previous series. But the Stanford "O" has to answer, and that would be difficult even if Ostrander were healthy.
2:20 - Stanford starts the second half with the ball on their 27, and Ostrander takes a sack on the opening play. That one was on him - stood back there too long and didn't feel it. Five-yard loss. If Ostrander's ribs are hurting, hits like that could finish him off.
2:21 - There is a little magic in the air this afternoon at Stanford Stadium for second-down runs to open each half! Kimble shocked us with the touchdown to start off the game, and now he runs for what is nearly another home run play. 13 yards, with a final defender stopping him before he was off to the races
2:24 - Ostrander takes a big hit in his face on 2nd & 10, just after getting the ball off. Ouch!
2:24 - 3rd & 10 is a nine-yard sack of Ostrander. In just the first three minutes that is more pressure than Ostrander felt all first half. Looks like we're seeing some breakdowns in the protection, and Oregon State has come out defensively with some successful wrinkles after halftime.
2:29 - It's 3rd & 5 for Oregon State on their own 26. Big chance early for the Stanford defense to assert itself early in the half... And it's a quick tackle by McNally after a short three-yard pass to Powers. There's a stop!
2:30 - Stanford spoils its chance at field position, though, when the punt rolls past Hobbs. He catches the ball running toward his own endzone and then runs the width of the field for a loss of four more yards. Ball on the Stanford 13. Blech.
2:32 - Ostrander on 2nd & 8 drops back and gives a pump fake to catch Evan Moore's defender, but the Cardinal QB doesn't feel pressure chasing him. He takes an 11-yard sack. Drive killer. One thing Ostrander has not yet fixed in his third year of playing is the knack for giving up the deep-yardage sack... Stanford runs Kimble for a token two yards and has to punt from its own six-yardline. That is a perfect example of Stanford squandering field position, through combined blunders by special teams and the offense.
2:33 - Oregon State fields the punt in Stanford territory and is poised for great field position, but a penalty pushes them back to their own 46.
2:34 - Nevermind. On first down, Matt Moore hits Jackson for 18 yards. OSU sits at the Stanford 36 on the second play of their drive.
2:35 - After an Oregon State incompletion, Harrison is demonstrably shouting and pointing instructions to Osaisai. I've seen that a few times today. We have seen some playmaking, but there still remains a huge learning curve to climb for Stanford's inexperienced corners. Think what you might of Harrison and Hooper as Pac-10 defensive backs (I like them, personally), but their leadership will be missed more than you can imagine next year. These kids better have a lot figured out by December, after which they are on their own.
2:37 - Bernard runs again, this time for eight yards on first down to the Stanford 16. He has carried the ball 24 times already, the only Beaver back to touch the ball. He's a horse.
2:38 - 3rd & 1 at the 15... Bernard slips through the line of scrimmage and has open green before being taken down by Hooper. Ball to the two-yardline.
2:39 - Egboh appears to force a fumble on 1st & Goal, which the officials don't call. Worth a challenge?... Udeme Udofia makes a flashy play behind the line of scrimmage on second down, tackling Bernard forward for a gain of just one.
2:43 - After an OSU timeout, Moore drops back to pass and has nobody open. But he has a wide open shot at the endzone and takes off. I'm dumbfounded that he didn't make the goalline - poor running there. Give credit to Harrison for closing quickly enough to hit him at the one-yardline and take him down immediately.
2:44 - Tough angle for Serna on the 18-yarder, but he hits it. That's three field goals on three attempts today for the Beaver kicker, who missed (I believe) two costly field goals last year in a crushing loss in Corvallis. Stanford 7, Oregon State 23.
2:47 - Stanford will start this series on their 23, with a great chance to creep past 100 yards of offense on the day!
2:48 - There it is. Gerhart carries for six yards on first down, pushing the Cardinal to 103 net yards on this sunny Saturday. Why don't the fans in the stands understand the momentous milestone we just witnessed? Are the Dollies this year that engaging?...
2:49 - Gerhart carries the next play for eight yards and a first down, which takes us to the end of the third quarter. The freshman is doing some good things today.
2:51 - We open the fourth quarter with Ostrander play-acting to Gerhart. He steps up and throws deep to Sherman inside the OSU 20. He has his man beat, and the ball hits him in the hands. Dropped. That's twice today the freshman flashed his athleticism to be in position for the big play but could not make the long reception. Disappointing. And the difference between Stanford's lone touchdown and putting three scores on the board.
2:53 - Ostrander throws for Moore but looks like his arm was hit as he released the ball. Incomplete. Stanford will punt (again).
2:54 - Or maybe not! Ottovegio takes the long snap and runs straight ahead for an 11-yard pickup and the first down. Fittingly, he picked it up running behind the block of close friend and long snapper redshirt junior Brent Newhouse. The crowd loves it.
2:55 - Again Ostrander throws downfield for Moore and again cannot connect. They just can't put it together today, despite several balls attempted.
2:56 - Ostrander dumps it off to Nnoli, who gets three yards on the sideline. I think that is the first ball thrown to a back today, which is a surprise. I know it's the first one completed, for sure.
2:57 - Ostrander dumps it off on the left side this time, and to Lorig. There's his second catch today, and he dives through a tackle to pick up the seventh yard and a first down. It's right in front of the Stanford sideline, and coaches are going wild. They know Lorig is working hard on this part of his game, and they're working hard with him. It's a joint accomplishment and source of celebration.
3:01 - Ostrander looks to Sherman downfield, and he draws pass interference on the sideline. Stanford moves to the OSU 36. Another touchdown here would be welcome for the Cardinal.
3:02 - Kimble has another big run. This one goes for 18 yards. His shiftiness running in the second and third levels of the defense is paying off. Stanford has the ball at the OSU 18. Gasp - in the red zone!
3:03 - Little pass to Sherman on the right sideline gets four yards. 2nd & 6 coming up.
3:03 - Huge mistake by Ostrander ends the drive. He looks to fifth-year senior wide receiver Marcus McCutcheon and throws the ball to the arms of Coye Francies, who takes the ball from the goalline and brings it back 17 yards.
3:05 - Press box announcer Bob Vazquez has said for the umpteenth time today, "Ballcarrier: Yvenson Bernard." I'm going to hear that in my sleep the next couple nights.
3:07 - Breaking up the Bernard monotony, OSU calls a screen pass (which would have gone to Bernard nevertheless). Egboh makes an athletic, leaping play to bat the ball backward. The big redshirt sophomore is hurting and has been playing at well below 100% this year, yet he still makes plays. The kid needs a healthy off-season, and then watch out in 2007.
3:09 - Stanford makes a stop, and OSU will punt. Hobbs fields it at his own six. He scrambles for five yards to the 11. Big punt by the Beavs.
3:12 - Eight minutes to go in the game, and Ostrander trots out there again... He takes a two-yard sack on first down, scrambling unsuccessfully away from backside pressure.
3:12 - Ostrander is hit as he throws on second down - looks like a forward pass, but it's ruled a fumble. OSU recovers on the Stanford three-yardline. That should be reviewed... It is indeed... Yikes. Well, that will turn this into a 30-7 game, which is still as much a loss as before. But it's a shame to see the margin widened. I suppose the more important point is that Ostrander has taken too many hits and several more pressures this half. Quite a turn of events from the first half, where I thought he had excellent protection.
3:16 - Bernard carries for one yard on first down. For all his work today, the Beaver running back is without a touchdown... Second down is stopped in the backfield by Okwo - no gain.
3:17 - 3rd & Goal at the two. Stanford stays with three defensive linemen. Udeme Udofia makes the solo tackle of Bernard in the middle to save a touchdown. The ball is inside the one-yardline. Will OSU go on fourth down? Looks like the answer is yes.
3:17 - It's a keeper by Moore. I would have thought the point of going on fourth down was to give Bernard a touchdown (he ran the previous three plays), but you let your quarterback carry? After some deliberation, the referee raises his arms to signal a touchdown. The home fans boo the call. Moore was stopped before the goalline, and neither official standing at the goalline signaled a touchdown at the conclusion of the play... And We have a challenge. I'll bet you it is not overturned. I've seen enough reviews in college this year where there is "not enough evidence" to reverse the call. It's a horrifically weak tool, excepting the most egregious mistakes (such as Okwo's putative interception). Looking for a ball in a congested pile at the goalline is too tough a job for the flaccid Pac-10 replay officials, which have been in the news for all the wrong reasons this season... Yep, the play stands. It should have been correctly and initially ruled a stop inside the one, and then a challenge from OSU would have also had "not enough evidence" to reverse the call. That's horse manure. Stanford 7, Oregon State 30.
3:20 - Disappointing job twice by the officials on that short series, and how about Mike Riley going on 4th & Goal with his quarterback late in an easy victory? He's still bitter that he was bounced from consideration in January 2002 for the Stanford head coaching job after a poor interview. I'd be spiteful, too, if I had to live in Corvallis.
3:23 - Evans finds a little daylight on the ensuing kickoff return and takes it out to the 35. He's stomping his feet heading to the sideline after tasting what may have been an even bigger return. All in all, kudos for a decent job in the kickoff return game today.
3:24 - Ostrander hits Yancy for a 15-yarder on first down. That's his first catch today. He didn't start for the first time in several weeks, with Evan Moore replacing him. The two have combined for one catch today.
3:24 - Ostrander heaves deep down his right sideline for Sherman in single coverage. Unlike the earlier attempts, Sherman gets under this one and hauls it in. The ball led him outside and away from the defender. He looked it in over his shoulder. Very well done by both the quarterback and receiver. That totals 45 yards and sits Stanford on the OSU five-yardline. Stanford takes a timeout.
3:26 - Ostrander looks to Moore, who is heavily covered on the right side on first down. Ball thrown away incomplete.
3:27 - Ostrander fakes to Gerhart running right and rolls to his left on second down. Nnoli is wide open, and Ostrander throws high and a little behind him. The fullback puts his hands on the ball high over his head but cannot collect it. A despondent sigh comes from the entire home crowd... To boot, there was an illegal formation penalty on Stanford, which is declined.
3:28 - Ostrander rolls left, and so does the rest of the offense and defense on third down. He throws for Sherman at the goalline, short and incomplete.
3:29 - On 4th & Goal, Ostrander is pressured too quickly after Dray cannot hold his block, and the quarterback has to hurry his throw into the endzone incomplete.
3:30 - With 3:45 to go, I'm heading down to the field for post-game locker room interviews. A sad exchange of goalline series by the two teams late in this fourth quarter soured this game even further. Not a good send-off for the seniors.
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