Hard questions will be again the flavor of the week and beginning of the season for Oregon State football as the team plays in a "great" football game that in reality should have been a nice low maintenance win.
The first half was owned by the Eastern Washington offense with OSU's defense looking to be on their first game heels. The defense constantly missed tackles and assignments to allow the Eagles to score on all of their first half possessions. Indeed the Eagle offense out gained the Beavers 376 to 217 in the first half alone.
It looked at the very outset that the Beavs were very rusty and jumpy on defense, but at the same the defense tightened up enough to keep Eastern Washington out of the end zone twice. The OSU offense responded well by taking their first possession in for a go ahead TD, including a nice couple of Connor Hamlett catches.
But the up-tempo offense of Eastern Washington kept at the Beavs, and what figured to be a fairly strong side of the ball for the Beavs ended up allowing 268 yards passing and 108 yards rushing in the first half. The Oregon State offense faltered on some of their drives, but still looked to have enough of mismatch to control the game if only the defense could kept the redhot Eagles off the field. For example, Brandin Cooks' incredible well-covered catch on the sideline setting up an easy Storm Woods two yard TD run. Luckily at the end of the half the defense bucked up enough to hold Eastern Washington to just a FG and on the previous Eagles possession the OSU defense blocked a PAT, all of which at least kept the score to 29 to 17 going into the halftime.
The Beavs then took advantage of having the second half kickoff and scored the opening second half TD. Then Beavs got a bit of a break when Eastern Washington's unstoppable QB Vernon Adams went out of the game with cramps. OSU was able to take a 32 to 29 lead on a Woods three yard TD run. But the Beavs defense could not hold on and continued to allow the Eagles to march up and down the field in the second half, pretty much scoring at will especially after Adams returned to the game.
The end of the second half did get wild though with both offenses completely opening things up and scoring at will. The Beavs then caught two breaks: first the Eagles missed the PAT to keep the game within three points and with an injury timeout for Cooks on a long catch over the middle Sean Mannion was able to spike the ball to allow Trevor Romaine a shot at a 52-yard field goal, but alas the attempt sailed wide and the Eagles were able to hand another FBS defeat to a FCS team.
In my own initial thoughts for the game I knew this would not be a total pushover opener for the Beavs, but at the same time I am a bit stunned nevertheless that my assumption the Beavs defense would be solid enough to win this game was completely unfounded. OSU pass coverage was almost non-existent with Eagles receivers easily getting behind coverage and OSU DBs consistently playing a step off. The pass rush also never seemed to adjust and this again demonstrates what I'm afraid is stacking up to be that Banker led defenses cannot ever match up against these type of newer offensive schemes. As such leaving Riley's offensive schemes always trying to scramble from behind.
The offense was very good, but in a game where we expected to see Cody Vaz get some throwing time it was a huge disappointment that we had to go with Mannion the entire game even if he was spectacular going 37 for 43 and 422 yards with 3 TD and no INTs. All for not as the Beavs give up 625 yards and cannot force any turnovers, ending up falling 49 to 46 to the Eastern Washington Eagles.