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Oregon State vs Utah: Grades and Analysis

A look at how the Beavers performed vs Utah

NCAA Football: Utah at Oregon State
Manase Hungalu (55) attempts to tackle Joe Williams (28).
Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon State Beavers dropped a close contest with #21 Utah Saturday in Corvallis. Howling winds and downpours made for an interesting, yet sloppily played game and the Utes capitalized on the many unforced errors of an injury depleted Beavers squad. In a matchup that saw Oregon State lose Ryan Nall, Darell Garretson and Conor Blount to injury, there was never any sign of giving up, and a tough fought game went down to the wire.

QB - Darell Garretson D+

In a game with 50+mph winds, along with tons of rain, Oregon State was largely forced to stick with the running attack once again. He was able to put together 47 yards on 7 rushing attempts, but was held to a weak line through the air of 4-for-20 24 yards, 1 INT. While trying to keep in mind the weather, Garretson’s passes were all but awful the entire night. His one interception, while slightly tipped at the line of scrimmage, would have been an interception anyway as it his receiver was covered with a defender both in front and behind him. Freshman Conor Blount stepped in once Garretson went down with an injury to his left leg, only to go down with an injury to his left leg just minutes later. Sophomore Marcus McMaryion stepped in, and looked like the best quarterback Oregon State has, at least from a passing stand point, completing 5 of 9 passing attempts for 76 yards and a touchdown to keep the Beavers in the game.

Running Backs B

Ryan Nall had 1 carry for 32 yards before being removed, again, for an injury to his ankle. As I have said previously, this feels like a potential mismanagement by the Oregon State coaching staff, continuously putting Ryan Nall in the game before he’s back to 100%, only to have to remove him after re-injuring himself. Outside of Nall, Beaver running backs combined for 124 yards on 15 carries for an average of 8.2 yards per carry. As a team, OSU rushed 35 times for 197 yards. That’s pretty successful against a stout Utah run defense that came into the game allowing 119 rushing yards per game.

Standout of the week: Artavis Pierce, (9 att. 60 yds, 1 TD). In a game that makes you wonder what could have been had Nall remained in the game, Pierce did his best Nall impersonation running hard and falling forward, having some success throughout the game. He was far and away the best performing running back on the night for the Beavers.

Wide Receivers C

Honestly, this grade should be even worse. Oregon State receivers dropped balls left and right, and although Garretson’s passes were erratic at best, they definitely didn’t help the situation. Timmy Hernandez led the team with 26 yards, albeit on only 1 reception. Victor Bolden was a close second with 3 receptions for 25 yards. The reason the receiving corps gets a C and not a lower grade? Down-field blocking. For the second week in a row, Oregon State receivers were constantly seen blocking on the perimeter, and in a couple cases, picking off linebackers and defensive lineman to open up holes for the running backs. One in particular saw Hernandez on a legal crack back block take out a Utah outside linebacker opening up a hole for Pierce to scamper to a huge gain.

Standout of the Week: Timmy Hernandez (1 rec. 26 yds). Although he had one huge drop in the 4th quarter, Hernandez also had the biggest gain of the night through the air and was consistently getting quality blocks down-field.

Offensive Line B

For the second week in a row, Oregon State’s offensive line performed well, at least for a half. The performance even drew the ire of head coach Gary Andersen. During the first half, Utah’s defensive line largely controlled the line of scrimmage, allowing only two drives by OSU to reach double digits in yards gained. The second half however was a completely different story. The Beaver offensive line started to control the line of scrimmage, and made moving the ball a reality, as they scored all 14 of their points.

Defensive Line C+

Utah rushed for 275 yards on 60 carries on the night for an average of 4.6 yards per carry. While technically, they outperformed Utah’s defensive line, they still yielded too may yards to be considered “successful”. Oregon State’s defensive lineman were in the Utah backfield throughout of the majority of the game, but often failed to make the tackle, allowing the Utah player to break free and gain yards that should have never been there. It’s positive to see Oregon State’s line being where they need to be, but the tackles have to be made when they have the opportunity.

Standout of the week: DE Kalani Vakameilalo, with 7 tackles, Vakameilalo was consistently wreaking havoc in the backfield for Utah, he led the defensive line in tackles, and even when he wasn’t making the play, he was consistently taking up gaps and creating push to force the running back away from his desired hole.

Linebackers B-

There were a lot of missed tackles, and missed opportunities from the linebacking corps this Saturday, but the majority of the huge plays were also done by the same group of players. Manase Hungalu, Bright Ugwoegbu and Caleb Saulo were a force on the night, with each cracking double digit tackles. This is an athletic bunch of guys that seem to get better each week, and are definitely a strong point for this Beaver defense.

Standout of the week: OLB Bright Ugwoegbu. As in the previous weeks, the standout linebacker of the week could’ve gone to any of the three aforementioned players. I chose Ugwoegbu because he was the player that in addition to his statistical performance (11 tackles, 2 tfl, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble), he was always around the ball, or making an impact on the play.

Defensive Backs B-

Due to the weather, and therefore a lack of a passing game, its hard to say much about this group of players. Utah only completed four passes on the night, so when the occasion came, the defensive backs did a good job of not letting receivers come open for easy completions.

Standout of the week: Safety Devin Chappell (8 tackles, 2 tfl, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass breakup). Chappell delivered a huge hit on a screen pass to Cory Butler-Byrd, breakup up the pass attempt and forcing a fumble that Oregon State would end up recovering. A former walk-on, Chappell has become one of the most exciting players to watch on this Beaver defense.

Special Teams F

Were the elements a factor? Sure. Should the Oregon State special teams unit have performed much, much better? Definitely. An extremely errant snap for safety, a shanked punt, and two botched field goals (one of which was late in the game when conditions were much better, and was a rather short attempt) should not have happened. No one is expecting any over-acheivments in weather like that, but they should still be expected to complete the basic, routine elements of special teams.

Standout of the week: None. There weren’t any real opportunities for the return game, and the rest of the special teams unit didn’t fare very well. This needs to be fixed, as playing in Corvallis, players are going to need to perform in the rain and wind.

Oregon State hung around with the #21 team in the nation on Saturday. The Beavers still need to figure out some sort of passing attack, as like I said last week, you won't win many games without one. Despite the many self-inflicted wounds, Oregon State had a chance to win late, but couldn’t complete the comeback. There are definite positive signs of a program that is rising up, and we should be excited to see where we go from here. A tough match-up against national powerhouse University of Washington in Seattle is up next. Look for the Beavers to continue to improve whenever possible.