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Oregon State vs Washington State: Grades and Analysis

The Beavers lost 31-35 to a streaking WSU squad, but how did they really perform?

NCAA Football: Utah at Oregon State Cole Elsasser-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon State Beavers lost a heartbreaker to Washington State 31-35 last Saturday in the friendly confines of Reser Stadium. While a loss isn’t what anyone in Beaver Nation wants, it is further proof that the football program has continued it’s turnaround in a positive direction. Oregon State jumped out to a 21-0 lead, to give up the 22 unanswered in the third quarter, and eventually fall to the Cougars, who remain tied for 1st place in the PAC-12 North with the University of Washington. We finally saw a Beaver team ready to play from the start, coming out with a strong first half, giving way to a less than stellar second half. If Oregon State can put together the strong second half play they’ve had earlier in the season, and come out firing in the first half like they did this last Saturday, PAC-12 wins could be in the picture for the rest of the season.

QB Marcus McMaryion B+

McMaryion finished the night with easily the best passing performance by an Oregon State quarterback this season with a stat line of 23-for-39 for 327 yards 2 TDs and not a single interception. I think McMaryion may end up being our best option at quarterback, even if all the other players were 100% healthy. It was also a great sign to see multiple downfield completions, something the Beaver offense had lacked until McMaryion’s presence in the backfield. There is still room for improvement, but we can see the potential for a dangerous, balanced offensive attack in the future!

RB Ryan Nall A

Ryan Nall is just exciting to watch, isn’t he? A huge 89 yard touchdown run early in the game led to Nall finishing with 133 yards on 19 carries and 2 TDs. He also had his best day as a receiver out of the backfield finishing with 3 receptions for 71 yards 1 TD. We need to keep him as the focal point of our offense for the foreseeable future as he is a force to be reckoned with, and has proven that against every defense he’s come up against.

Wide Receivers B+

Perhaps it was because we had the best quarterback play of the season, perhaps the Washington State secondary wasn’t as good of a unit? Chalk it up to whatever you’d like, but last Saturday’s game was the entire receiving corps’ best performance of the season. We finally saw the Victor Bolden everyone has been waiting for in the passing game (7 rec 113 yds). Seth Collins is looking more and more like a potential star receiver (6 rec 83 yds 1 TD). There were a few bad blocks down field that cost the Beavers some crucial yards, but overall, the receivers must’ve had quite the “talking to” after an atrocious showing up in Seattle the week prior.

Offensive Line C+

This was completely a tale of two halves for the offensive line. Early on and throughout the majority of the first half, the offensive line dominated Washington State’s formidable front seven. Throughout the second half, the Beaver offensive line looked lost. Frequent missed assignment and tons of penetration led to essentially nothing in the way of a running attack, which is the strength of this Oregon State offense. The struggles are evident by the stat line: 1st half - 15 attempts 160 yards; 2nd half - 13 attempts 19 yards.

Just soak that in. Something went wrong in the second half, and we need to figure out what it was.

Defensive Line C

If you take a look at the statistics, you may think Oregon State did a good job of keeping what had been a potent Cougar rushing attack, in check. I’m going to argue that statement is dead wrong. Washington State’s two lead running backs combined for 18 carries for 129 yards. That is a combined average of 7.2 yards per carry. In this case, the Beavers looked alright on paper, but it could have been a lot worse had the Cougars decided to run the ball more frequently with their top two running backs. Add that to the fact that not a single defensive lineman for Oregon State recorded a tackle for loss, and we’re lacking the push we need to contain opposing offenses.

Linebackers B

As usual, the Oregon State linebackers were flying around the field wreaking havoc. Middle linebacker Caleb Saulo was in the backfield, breaking up passes and consistently a part of nearly every play. Bright Ugwoegbu, as usual, was all over the place, including in the opposing quarterback’s face recording two sacks on the night. Unfortunately, Ugwoegbu’s fiery, all over the place playing style got him ejected for targeting in the second half, which means the Beaver defense will be without their most athletic defensive player for the first half of their upcoming matchup against Stanford. Look for him to come out HOT when he gets into the game, trying to make up for getting himself suspended for the first half. This linebacking crew is athletic, and if it weren’t for a number of injuries could’ve been considered Oregon State’s most talented position group.

Defensive Backs C+

This was an extraordinarily hard group to grade. They gave up over 400 yards passing and 5 TDs on the night. They also made up the three leading tacklers, forced two fumbles and had a tackle for loss. I went back and forth between a “C+” and a “B-”. I landed on the grade I did, because in my sports opinion, it would be more important for our secondary to stop the pass, than to get a ton of tackles. That being said, Devin Chappell and Jalen Moore are some of the most exciting safeties in the conference to watch. Moore, in his most extending playing time yet, consistently lowered the proverbial “BOOM” on Washington State players. His big hitting ability is something the Beavers lacked out of anyone with a last name other than Chappell this season, and should give them another intimidating presence roaming around the secondary. On a side note, where did Treston Decoud go? Did getting destroyed by John Ross and Dante Pettis ruin his radiating confidence so much he’s lost his ability to cover? It’s something to keep an eye on for the remainder of the year.

Special Teams B-

Nick Porebski had a nice night punting, and did his job to keep the Cougar punt returner without positive yards on the night. The Beaver returners didn’t provide any spectacular plays, but didn’t put us in a bad place all night. Garrett Owens however was 50% on his field goals, reaffirming his place as arguably one of the worst place kickers in the PAC-12. For a kicker that was so reliable for so long, it’s hard to understand the struggles. Hopefully things will turn around in the future.

Oregon State lost the game, but can look back knowing they had every chance to win, and that they are a lot stronger of a team than many had expected them to be at this point. My personal opinion is that the coaches were so excited about actually having some production in the passing game, that they became pass happy in the second half. We’ll see where it goes from here, but it’s definitely looking up for the program in beautiful Corvallis, Oregon. Go Beavs.