Oregon State Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake said after practice today that there are "No More Excuses" for Oregon State. Lots of Beaver fans agree with that, after back to back bad blowout losses in the first two conference contests of the season.
Sitake said a lot more than that, not all of which is suitable for reprint in a forum those whose' sensibilities might be offended at straight talk may read.
Head coach Gary Andersen set the tone in his press conference Monday, when he said "It's time to put on our big-boy pants." among other things, and Sitake, who has been abundantly frank since arriving on campus, drove home the point that the players need to step up if they are to stop the current skid, and salvage the season.
Almost halfway through the season, the inexperienced players are past the point where that's a pass for performance problems, at least the ones that aren't a talent issue. To be sure, until there's the effect of more recruiting classes, this team also struggles with the "get off the bus" eye test like few have for a long time, and as such, its going to be tough sledding the rest of the way, no matter what.
But what Sitake was talking about, and everyone saw in the harsh Sonoran desert light, can be fixed.
"Guys not being in the right spot, we gotta fix that," was Sitake's take.
And its not a matter of an overly complex scheme causing the confusion.
"We can't simplify things any more," Sitake explained.
The tone and the rhetoric of the conversation this week isn't un-heard of by any stretch, but the difference is where it originates from this time.
Usually, a headline like the one at the top of this story comes with serious questions for the coaching staff, and usually a back lash from those preaching patience and calling for focusing on the positives. This time, its not an editorial opinion though; its simply quoting from the coaches.
To be fair, as Coach Andersen pointed out, in the greater scheme of things, it is just football. Nobody died, and nothing got washed away by a flood. Even within the confines of football, Oregon State isn't dealing with a coach firing, or even questions about whether there should be one, or an ex-coach in need of professional help as USC is. And a look around the conference, never mind the country, will find all of those.
But as Andersen noted "Football has to matter to each of us."
The frustration mostly stems, as Sitake freely admits, from the fact that the players making some of the mistakes have already demonstrated that they can do better, and they even continue to do so.
"The group have geen doing the right things in practice, but they gotta show up on game day." Sitake said. "We have to play clean football, like we did more of in the non-conference games. We have shown we can be in the right spot before, but we haven't shown it in Pac-12 games."
Multiple coaches have commented on it possibly meaning changes in who plays, though there's no real indication of that in the dept chart this week. And in truth, there's not a lot of better alternatives just waiting on the sidelines. The Beavers are playing the best that they have got.
And they only took 67 players to Tucson, when the conference limit for road games other than the rivalry games is 70. The reason is there weren't 70 players who were healthy, not already scheduled to red-shirt the season, and had demonstrated in practice that their performance warrants getting on the field over anyone already in the rotation.
This Saturday will be the next chance to see something different, and it won't be easy; Washington State has righted their ship after a similarly frustrating performance in their season opener. Luke Falk could start an All-Conference campaign on the strength of his performances against Oregon State last year and then his role in leading the Coug's conquest of Autzen last weekend alone.
And the 250 yards or so of offense Oregon State managed in Tucson won't even be a good half up against the "Air Raid". The combined passing production of under 100 yards is about what it takes in each quarter to keep up with what will probably unfold Saturday afternoon.
But until we see what the mindset and approach of the team is, we can dispense with xs and os analysis.
This ain't high school ball anymore guys.
Lets hope we see the next step taken Saturday; otherwise Coach Sitake might just melt a microphone.