Here are a couple thoughts from last night's game, just what comes to mind when I rewind the game in my head.
1. Katz looked solid. He had lapses, especially the botched snap and a couple poor throws, but overall his poise and ability make me believe that he will be exceptional at the end of the season. This was the biggest question mark coming into the season, but I feel convinced that by the end of this season Ryan Katz will be one of the best qbs in the Pac-10.
2. The defense has a lot of work to do. This game felt awfully similar to USC last year when the Trojans ran for 6 minutes straight and OSU could not stop them for a final possession. While TCU had good blocking from their O-line and their receivers blocked stupendously, the linebackers have to be able to get off those blocks, or the spread will destroy the Beavs.
3. The unexpected losses of Matt LaGrone and Paaluhi hurt the Beavers pretty badly. The linebacking crew had serious trouble with getting to Dalton or the running backs, and while some of the fault lies with the OLBs, there was also Dalton scrambling up the middle for far too many first downs which should have been prevented. Also if the ends were able to get a little more pressure that opportunity to run wouldn't exist. One specific play stood out when Taylor Henry fell for a fake and Dalton strolled right by him. Maybe LaGrone would have missed too, but it would be a real pity if the season ends with Beaver fans wondering "what if?".
Even though the Beavs looked outmatched for much of the game, I still felt like if 4-6 plays had gone differently OSU might have won it.
1. The first offensive play of the game. If Katz and James Rodgers connect on that very first throw, TCU would have given a little more respect to the pass, opening up more running lanes for Quizz, completely changing the complexion of the game.
2. The missed field goal by Kahut. If Kahut makes this, the pressure is on the Horned Frogs thanks to an OSU lead. Dalton did not look too great through the air, and maybe it even causes another interception.
3. The poor punt by Hekker. If Hekker gets a great punt away it becomes much harder for TCU to score, possibly leaving the halftime score 14-14, and diminishing TCU's momentum.
4. One late deep bomb from Katz to James Rodgers. Not that this was a mistake, it was a good break up by the cornerback on the play, but if James makes a fantastic catch here it shifts the momentum considerably.
5. With about 8 minutes left, Oregon State had a 4th down around their own 40. I felt like OSU should have gone for it, I did not expect the D to manage a single stop all the way to end, and while they did get one stop, it felt like the right time to try and control the game by keeping it in OSU's possession. It seemed more likely that it would be easier to score from that point than waiting for a reset of possession after an unlikely punt.
6. The obvious choice, the botched snap. It robbed the Beavers of a last ditch effort to tie it up and definitely ended the game right then by giving up the ball and making it a two score game.
Although Oregon State sometimes seemed overwhelmed, I never really felt like they were out of the game. It was a feeling that they could catch up, while it might be optimism tied to my homerism, I felt like there was always a chance that the Beavers could catch up. While I'm still disappointed with the loss, I'm still excited for the future of this team, with the return of Michael Philipp, the progression of Ryan Katz, and hopefully an improvement of the defense, this Beaver team has a real shot to end up very good at the end of the season.