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Oregon State vs UCLA: Grades and Analysis

A stellar defensive effort, a crazy game for special teams, and a struggling offense make for the Beavers to come up just short of a win under the bright lights of the Rose Bowl.

NCAA Football: Oregon State at UCLA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the first minute and thirty seconds of the game, it looked good for the Beavers. Then before anyone knew what had hit them, it was 21-7 UCLA. The rest of the game, was really a stalemate between a team with tons of talent that lacks execution, and a team full of grinders that want to make a name for themselves. Unfortunately for Oregon State, the first quarter deficit proved too much to come back from.

QB Marcus McMaryion (68) D+

If you look at his production from a statistics stand point, it was terrible. Anyone watching the game could tell you there were way to many bonehead decisions and botched plays by the quarterback position to hope for a win. One of the few that stands out is a read option play that wasn’t taken by anyone, instead the ball fell to the ground and was recovered by UCLA and would lead to 7 points for the Bruins. McMaryion has to make a decision based on his read and stick with it. Indecision will cause problems fast. Throwing the ball, he was acceptable. There were some poor throws, but the majority of throws were alright from an accuracy and touch standpoint. In the end, too many poor decisions severely hurt his play in this one.

Running Backs (72) C-

The running game for Oregon State without Ryan Nall is just about as bland and average as it comes. The performance from a production standpoint was downright poor, but there’s more that goes into a running game performance than simply the running backs. Two glaring concerns? The inability to break a tackle by anyone other than The Wrecking Nall. Poor pass protection from running backs. Overall, the running backs did their job when getting the ball. They just didn’t do anything extraordinary. It was more of a grind it out, gain 3 or 4 yards each play sort of performance, and that is not the kind of offense this team is built for. That explosion we have come to expect from the Beavers’ rushing attack must’ve slept through it’s alarm and missed the trip to Los Angeles. Artavis Pierce, who got the start for the injured Nall, made a good impression from a receiving standpoint, and did a decent job filling in, with over 100 yards from scrimmage on the night.

Wide Receivers (73) C-

This week’s performance by the receivers was an improvement. We still saw drops, some poor route running and suspect down field run blocking. That being said, I want to give some praise to Timmy Hernandez for actually running routes like a division 1 receiver should. Poor Jordan Villamin has had quite the rough year. He finally got an important catch that looked to put us into a short yardage situation only to fumble and get a 15 yard personal foul penalty for playing without his helmet. Can we just pretend this year never happened for him? There’s still some definite weaknesses for this particular group of players, but it was a slightly better performance than we saw the week before, and with a rebuilding program like Oregon State, improvement is all we can hope each week!

Offensive Line (70) C-

This was a rough performance overall for our offensive line. I know we had a different starting five which can affect the chemistry of the group, but it seems like our o-line has started to struggle these last two weeks. The UCLA defensive line continuously beat our bookends Sean Harlow and Blake Brandel putting on pressure during passing plays and disrupting running plays. It is tough to say whether the Beaver offensive line is struggling, or if they are simply playing tougher front sevens. There was enough positives to keep them in the 70s for their grade, but too many times an assignment was missed, or someone was just plain beat. It’s hard to get much going offensively (especially without your starting quarterback and running back) if the opponents are in the defensive backfield after every snap.

Defensive Line (82) B-

The Oregon State big men on defense played a heck of a game down in the Rose Bowl. It almost seemed as if they had a little extra fire (which shouldn’t be too surprising considering their position group is coached by Gary Andersen himself) and were getting push, pressuring the quarterback and disrupting quite a few running plays as well. Watching back play by play, there were still a few times someone was caught out of place, or taken out of a play by a single blocker when they ideally should have been occupying a couple, but more often than not, the d-line did their job (and perhaps a little more).

Linebackers (84) B

Keep in mind, Manase Hungalu played out of his mind last Saturday with two fumbles recoveries (one returned for a touchdown), an interception, a pass breakup and numerous play disruptions. That being said, for such a depleted position group (we left that game without a single substitute available for the outside linebacker position) it’s pretty impressive the position group played such a good game. Take away three long runs (28, 14, and 19 yards) and the Beavers held the Bruins to just 107 rushing yards for the entire game. It was a valiant effort by a couple of true freshman on the outside, and their upperclassmen leaders Caleb Saulo and Hungalu manning the middle. After a poor performance like we saw in Stanford, performances like these are very welcomed and exciting to see what comes in the future.

Defensive Backs (82) B-

Any time a team passes the ball as much as UCLA, there will be yardage gained. Giving up 281 yards on nearly 50 attempts isn’t too bad of a performance. The Beavers allowed just under 6 yards per reception for the game. Defensive backs for Oregon State also had a season high 6 pass breakups in the game, and weekly fire-starter Devin Chappell forced two fumbles (both of which were recovered by Hungalu for the Beavers) in a night that saw multiple legitimate NFL prospects in the defensive backfield. This position looked to be a strength for Oregon State early on, and looks to continue to be that way following Saturday’s performance.

Special Teams (78) C+

The special teams unit for the Beavers is even more strange following last Saturday in the bright lights of LA. Garrett Owens kicked extra points, Former #1 kicking recruit (that’s correct, a 5-star, number 1 kicking recruit) Jordan Choukair kicked his first field goal for the Beavs (and it was good!), then Choukair and Adley Rutschman competed for kickoff duties (which it appears Rutschman won). There was a good kick return by Victor Bolden, a trick play on a punt return by Rahmel Dockery that set up great field position for the offense, and a blocked punt given up that ended as a Bruin touchdown. Aside from the blocked punt, things went pretty well for the special teams unit. There is some need for better blocking, especially on punts, as even the punts that weren't blocked had pressure from the Bruins, but it was one of the unit’s better performances otherwise.

Yet another game Oregon State could have come away with, if not for a few things that bounced the other team’s way. One thing I love about Andersen’s version of the Beavers is their complete dedication to not only Oregon State, but to competition and the process of building into a powerful football program. This team is undermanned and arguably under talented (mainly due to players that may or may not fit the scheme the Beavers want to use), yet still fight their hardest every play, keeping the team with a chance to win nearly ever week. As always, Go Beavs!