Having broken down how break downs in fundamentals of coaching and game management cost Oregon St. a victory against a top 20 opponent in Utah, balance demands that some positives be called out, lest they be overlooked.
The breakout player of the game for Oregon St. was red-shirt freshman Jordan Villamin, who caught not only the 72 yard touchdown pass to put the Beavers ahead for the first and only time in the game a minutes and a half into the 4th quarter, he also had the touchdown catch on 4th down in the first overtime that kept Oregon St. in the game.
It's why the injury to Richard Mullaney's elbow, sustained recovering a possible loose ball, which
may prove to will be a long term issue, if not a season ender, isn't the disaster it could be.
Villamin made his first start, in Mullaney's spot while Mullaney moved over to fill in for Victor Bolden, at USC, and was a non-factor. But getting up to top-25 level competition was bound to take the redshirt freshman a little while to adjust to, and Beaver fans got to be encouraged by Villamin's performance.
At a conservatively listed 6'4" and 240 lbs., Villamin is still quite fast, and provides a big threat at WR that Oregon St. hasn't approximated since Jordan Bishop, who ultimately couldn't stay healthy. It's the kind of weapon the Beavers haven't had on a consistent bases since Shane Morales.
Similarly, Storm Woods' knee injury, while a serious loss, also isn't a total deal breaker, as Chris Brown proved to be a servicable counter-back for Terron Ward, with 22 yards on 6 carries.
There's a reason why Woods was the starter, and another injury to a back will be a bigger problem, depth wise, but Brown, like Villamin, gives Oregon St. the ability to go forward in preparing for this week's trip to the Farm to take on Stanford without having to revise their overall system.
And the Beavers do now have the second leading passer in the illustrious history of Pac-8/10/12 quarterbacks, as Sean Mannion passed USC's Carson Palmer for second place in career passing yards in the conference, and now needs only 316 to eclipse another Trojan, Matt Barkley for first place all time. The odds are against that happening down on the Farm, though its certainly within the realm of possibility. If it doesn't, then Sean setting the record is likely to be a highlight of the Homecoming game against California.
Defense did OK
The defense has to get some recognition, this despite the fact the Devontae Booker booked around Reser for a career high 229 yards, and 3 touchdowns, on his 32 carries. Booker is a beast, and the junior JC transfer is already almost 3/4 of the way to a thousand yard season just half way through the regular season.
His breakout against the Beavers came on the heels of a 178 yard day against Washington St., and then 156 (plus 15 receiving) in the Ute's win at UCLA.
Booker got half of his yards, 114 on just 2 plays, the 72 yarder that set up Utah's only touchdown in regulation, and a 42 yarder to start the Ute's second half, and set up a go-ahead Andy Phillips field goal.
And Oregon St. allowed Utah only 62 yards passing.
If you told defensive coordinator his defense would have to go 2 overtimes, and would still surrender only 315 total yards, and that they would get 4 sacks, despite having to deal with both a mobile quarterback in Kendal Thompson and a run/pass combination threat in Travis Wilson, he would have asked to borrow a pen to sign up for that.
Justin Strong continues to do a strong job as Oregon St.'s nickel back, with another half dozen tackles against Utah, including one of those quarterback sacks.
And do-everything Dylan Wynn had his first career interception, after moving from DE in to start and play primarily at DT.
But it was the job done by another couple of the newcomers that jumped out.
Already down 2 DTs in Jalen Grimble and Noke Tago, it was with no small concern that we watched Jaswha James limp off to get a pair of crutches in the first half, but Lavonte Barrett did a good job in James' stead, with a co-team high 7 tackels with steady LB Jabral Johnson, including a sack he shared with Wynn.
And Brandon Bennett-Jackson also made a quality contribution in the rotation at DT, with 2 tackles and a sack.
Stanford will be more of the same as was Utah, in terms of being a bruising opponent for Oregon St., but the good news is there are "next men up" who are proving they are indeed ready to be the next man up.