Saturday, October 8th was the sign Beaver football fans have been waiting for. We now have the affirmation that the Oregon State football program is moving in the right direction under second year head coach Gary Anderson. Jumping out to an early lead, and holding the Bear Raid offense in check, the Beavers held the lead up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter when Cal scored 17 unanswered points to tie the game and send it to OT. Cal won the toss, but the OSU defense held them to a field goal and turned the game over to an offense that stalled for much of the second half sans Ryan Nall. On 3rd-and-1, an errant snap sent junior QB Darell Garretson attempting to gain positive yardage, but instead of just picking up the first down, he found a hole and scampered 16 yards for the game winning touchdown.
QB - Darell Garretson C+
Here's the deal, I know I will get a lot of disagreement from some of Beaver Nation for this one, but we have to keep in mind, that even though Garretson ran for the game winning touchdown, there was more to the game than that. Going 13-of-24 for 85 yards and 2 INTs isn't going to win Pac 12 games very often. Garretson looked as though he was uncomfortable in the pocket all night, and passes anywhere beyond 10 yards were all but worthless. On the ground is where he made his money, rushing 10 times for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns including the game winner in OT. He timed his option plays perfectly, setting up the Cal defense before ripping of some big gains. In order for the Beavers to win more Pac-12 games this season, he will most likely have to start throwing the ball a little better.
RB - Ryan Nall A
Nall looked like a man possessed, taking off for huge run after huge run, breaking tackles left and right and dragging Cal defenders all over the field. He finished with 14 attempts for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns including runs of 12, 13, 15, 62 and 80 yards. Nall looked like the running back we all saw during last years' Civil War, and more importantly he looked healthier than he has all season. That is until he came out early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. If Nall continues to play at this level, he could be carrying the Beavers to whatever level of success they achieve this season.
WR - Victor Bolden B-
Evaluations and analysis of the receiving corps is going to be difficult and brief this week due to our nearly nonexistent passing game. Bolden did catch four passes for 28 yards while rushing 4 times for 46 yards. He made plays when he had the opportunity to, and didn't have any egregious errors.
WR - Timmy Hernandez C+
In his first start, Timmy Hernandez displayed some above average hands, catching 2 passes for 17 yards. Where he excelled however, was in his down field run blocking. Hernandez had key blocks on a number of long gains for the Beavers.
Offensive Line B+
During the first three quarters of the game, our offensive line man-handled the Cal defensive line. Nearly every running play, there was a consistent push and frequent blocks on the second level. Nall, Paul Lucas and Artavis Pierce had huge holes to run through all night. In what was the first time Oregon State started the same five guys on the offensive line for consecutive weeks, you could see the improvement with the continuity. They also did not give up a single sack in the game, and escaped without injury. Things are looking up for what has been quite banged up lately.
Offensive Line Stand-out of the Week: Senior Left Tackle, Sean Harlow. For the selflessness to step up, and want to contribute to the team even though he could have sat out this year.
Defensive Line B
This grade would be much higher had Cal not ran for 321 yards, the majority of which were in the second half. Early on, it looked as though Cal would not have much of an offense at all. In the second half, the defensive line got ate up a bit, and gave up some huge runs. Although they only got one sack on the night, they visibly made Davis Webb uncomfortable, which helped out the rest of the defense.
Defensive Line Stand-out of the Week: True Freshman DE/OLB Joah Robinett. The 6-foot 8-inch 236 lb Robinett was forced into action due to injury, and became a difference maker from the start.
The linebacking corps for the Beavers had the Cal Bears completely bottled up throughout the first half. The second half however was a much different story, as the California running backs consistently ripped off big gain after big gain, frequently breaking tackles in the second level and sometimes just outrunning the Beaver defense all together.
Linebacker Stand-out of the Week: Sophomore Bright Ugwoegbu. This was a hard choice between ILB Caleb Saulo, ILB Manase Hungalu and Ugwoegbu. I chose the latter because of the fact, that even if he didn't record a statistic, he was always either around the ball or disrupting the play, so he gets the shout out for being a regular thorn in the side of the Cal offense.
Defensive Backs A
The defensive backs stepped up as a unit against the Bear Raid offense of Cal. Holding the number one quarterback in the Pac 12, and at the time the leading passer in NCAA Division I football to the room temperature stat-line of 23-for-44 for 113 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT. Redshirt Freshman Xavier Crawford had a team high 3 passes defended, while Senior Treston Decoud shut down Cal WR Chad Hansen, who coming into the game was averaging 11 receptions and 150 yards per game, but left Corvallis with a mere 4 receptions for 16 yards.
Defensive Back Stand-out of the Week: Senior Cornerback, Treston Decoud. While Xavier Crawford showed he can be a force to reckon with in his own right, Decoud had one of the toughest assignments a corner can have this week matching up with Chad Hansen one-on-one, and completely dominated the matchup.
Special Teams C+
While there were no glaring mistakes on special teams, it also wasn't that great of a performance. Cal had some big returns, while keeping Victor Bolden largely out of the equation by kicking touchback after touchback. On a positive note, Garrett Owens was perfect kicking field goals.
All in all, the Oregon State football team played the better game last Saturday night. One of their weakest areas initially, their offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage for much of the game, and the Beavers held on for what could end up being a program changing win. The team, Beaver Nation and the rest of the Pac 12 now know that Oregon State has what it takes to play with the rest of the Pac 12, and should only get better from here.