The Oregon State football team went into their matchup last Saturday, knowing they were facing the class of the Pac-12. The University of Washington Huskies are on track to head to the College Football Playoff, entering the game ranked #5 in the nation, and after the weekend climbing the #4. While UW won the game in the box score, I think the Beavers may have gotten more positives out of the game than the team in purple and gold. Head coach Gary Andersen will be able to look back at this game to pinpoint the Oregon State program’s will, determination and football toughness. This game easily could have been one that an ailing Beaver team let off the gas in, accepted a loss before it even started and tried to just get through the game in tact. Instead, the Beavers fought tough until the end, strengthening (as they have throughout the season) in the second half and showing the improvement we all want to see.
Sophomore QB, Marcus McMaryion B-
When you look at Marcus McMaryion, you have to keep in mind that until this week, he hadn’t really been getting any snaps with the first team in practice, much less experience in a game. To come in and start against the #5 team in the nation, after having very few reps with a group of players is a difficult thing to ask a young man to do, and I thought he did rather given the circumstances. You may ask why I have him graded as high as I do with a stat line of 12-for-26 148 yds, 2 INTs. I’d ask you to ignore his statistics, and look at both the competition he was up against, and the way his passes looked when he got them off. The University of Washington is 4th in the nation in sacks. Meaning, no matter who played quarterback for the Beavers, they would be under pressure constantly. The worst part for Oregon State? UW rarely blitzes, and the greater majority of their sacks are produced by their four down linemen. Now, regardless of the result of each passing attempt, just look at McMaryion’s mechanics, look at the trajectory of his passes, the spin of the ball. McMaryion looks like the best passer we have seen at Oregon State this season. With a little more experience, we could develop an actual passing attack that could keep defenses from loading the box against our run game.
Senior RB, Tim Cook A
Where has Tim Cook been? I mean, the first six games of the season, we have dealt with injury after injury, and even when we didn’t lose a running back in the middle of a game, we frequently played around three players at the position. Why hasn’t one of them been Tim Cook? We have built our running attack around the powerful, downhill running of Ryan Nall (6’2” 234lbs). The next two backs we have used are definitely more speedy, elusive backs in Paul Lucas (5’11” 188lbs) and Artavis Pierce (5’11” 201lbs). While they are a good change of pace, it would seem to me, especially after his 18 carry 108 yard 1TD performance against a stout UW defense, that the 6’1” 233lb Cook would be the ideal replacement for losing Nall to injury from here on.
Saturday against the Huskies saw yet another game where our receivers were underwhelming, to say the least. Drops are becoming contagious it appears, as nearly ever receiver in the group dropped at least one key pass. Victor Bolden paced the group with 5 catches for 58 yards, but his performance could have, and should have, been bigger, as he had a couple key drops. If there was any positive for the receiving corps last Saturday, it is that we have officially had a Jordan Villamin sighting. The junior receiver was expected to be a major contributor with his size and athleticism, but has seen some turbulent days in his career this season with numerous drops, and what seems to be a lack of chemistry with both Conor Blount and Darell Garretson thus far. Perhaps his big 35 yard reception, and his previous experience with McMaryion will spark his production for the rest of the season. Random question, where has Seth Collins gone?
Offensive Line B-
Oregon State was able to run for 197 yards on 30 carries against what is arguably the best defense in the West. That amounts to a clip of 5.9 yards per carry. Combine that with the fact that Washington was only able to secure 1 sack after averaging 4 sacks per game coming into the matchup, and I’d say the offensive line performed well. The reason they don’t get a higher grade, is because while statistics are nice, there were still several occasions that the Washington defense made our front five look like swiss cheese. Whether you give that to the quality of the Washington defense, or missed assignments by the Oregon State offensive line is up for interpretation. Overall, good job O-line, keep it up.
Defensive Line C-
The Beavers are lucky that Washington likes to use a three man rotation at running back. I am afraid to see the kind of numbers that would have been put up if Myles Gaskin got the ten carries that Jomon Dotson and Lavon Coleman got against OSU. Gaskin averaged 7.1 yards a carry, and led all carriers in the game with 128 yards. If he gets those ten carries that went to others, there is a good chance he eclipses 200 yards on the ground. OSU gave up 300 yards on the ground to Khalf Muhammed and Tre Watson of California, and 185 yards to Utah’s Joe Williams who had just come out of retirement! Something has to change if we want to win any Pac-12 games during the rest of the season. The Beavers had 2 tackles for loss in a game that saw the Huskies run the ball 39 times. To top things off neither TFL was produced by a defensive lineman.
It could have been better, but it certainly could have been worse for an injury decimated linebacker group. Senior Caleb Saulo led the team with 8 tackles as well as recording the only sack for the Beavers. Bright Ugwoegbu was again wreaking havoc and a part of nearly every play. Backup linebackers Kyle Haley and Jonathan Willis stepped in and did their part. That being said, there were still too many times a Washington running back was able to break through into the secondary and gain extra yards. Our linebackers need to work on wrapping up and holding on for help to swarm to the ball carrier. Too many missed tackles, arm tackles and attempted big hits give a quality running back the opportunity to gain additional yardage.
Defensive Backs C
This was by far the worst performance by what was previously one of the stronger units on the Oregon State football team. UW receivers John Ross (4 catches 115 yards) and Dante Pettis (4 catches 112 yards 2 TDs) were frequently seen wide open, and completely lit our secondary on fire. Future NFL prospect, Treston Decoud was beat multiple times leading to big plays, not to mention a couple of times that we can’t say who was beat, because the receiver was 20 yards away from the nearest defender. While keeping in mind Husky QB Jake Browning is a Heisman candidate, and John Ross is one of the fastest (if not the fastest) players in the Pac-12, performances like this can’t be repeated if the Beavers hope to win any more this season. It wasn’t pretty, but learn from it, move on and don’t make the same mistakes again. I still believe our defensive secondary can be one of the better position groups in the Pac-12.
Special Teams C+
There isn’t much to speak about as far as special teams goes. Nick Porebski punted 5 times for an average of 40.2 yards per punt, and Oregon State didn’t give up a single return yard on any of them. Our kickoff team did well to not give up any big gains to a dangerous return corps. The bleak spot of the day is Garrett Owens missing one of his two field goal attempts on the day. On the season he is kicking only 63.4% on the season, and has yet to hit a field goal longer than 45 yards. Both those numbers are unacceptable for a kicker in the Pac-12, and could end up being one of the biggest weaknesses for the Beavers. With Owens’ performance, it brings up questions about why redshirt-freshman, former 5-star, former number one rated kicker Jordan Choukair has yet to be given a chance? With six different place kickers on the roster, and Owens not looking like a player we can’t afford to sit, why not try something different?
While the Beavers lost the game, it is my opinion they gained more from the game than the Huskies. With injuries depleting nearly every position group on the OSU roster, the Beavers were still able to fight and compete. They were not the push-over many thought they would be, and after finding out that they can indeed produce against the now #4 team in the nation, it could just give them the confidence to take the next step forward and win a couple more conference games! The Andersen Era is most assuredly on the rise. Go Beavs.