Oregon State had plenty of chances to win in their Season Opening 30-23 loss to the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Here are some of the positive things we learned about the season opener.
- Darrell Garretson has tons of Heart and Toughness. It is easy to see why teammates voted him captain. Finally, the Beavers have stability at quarterback.
After taking two shots to the head, which led to the ejection of two Golden Gopher defenders, and taking multiple shots by an aggressive Minnesota defense, Garretson kept battling to the end. It was impressive to watch Garretson lead a nice touchdown drive with 1:04 left in the first half, and his 30 yard touchdown strike to Victor Bolden was thrown very well. He was able to put up impressive numbers (25-40, 225 yds 3tds 0 int). After the game, Beaver Head Coach Gary Andersen praised Garretson for his toughness and ability to compete. I fully expect great things from number 10 as the season progresses.
- Improvement on Defense
Many Beaver fans would agree that the defense showed improvement. The Beavers were statistically, one of the worst in the nation in 2015. But, in the opener the defense was able to hold Minnesota scoreless in the 1st and 3rd quarters. For the most part, the Beavers were able to prevent the explosive plays, the longest play from Minnesota was a 27 yard run by Rodney Smith. Devin Chappell played a great game with 7 tackles, a key pass break up on third down, and a tackle for loss on a 3rd and 1 that forced the Gophers to punt.
- Hard Work Pays off
It was evident that this Beaver team worked very hard in the offseason. Coach Andersen praised this team for going through a rigorous off-season training regimen. The Defense was noticeably faster than they were a year ago. Also, there seemed to be a noticeable improvement in all three facets of the game (offense/defense/special teams). The Beavers had a chance to win on the road against a Big 10 school in a game where they were favored to lose by thirteen points. Based on the 30-23 final score, it is safe to say that this team has improving and should exceed preseason expectations.
- Sparks of an Explosive Offense
Seth Collins looked great at Wide Receiver (5 catches, 57 yds). I was also impressed with H-Back Noah Togiai (4 catches 41 yards & 1 td). Running Back Ryan Nall was very impressive with 151 all purpose yards. There were times that the offensive line did a good job of protecting Garretson, and making key blocks in the screen game. Even though the offense missed several long passing plays, its evident that Collins, along with receivers Jordan Villamin and Victor Bolden have big play ability. Co-Offensive Coordinators Kevin McGiven and T.J. Woods must be excited about the potential of this group.
- Tim Cook!
I was thrilled to see Tim Cook’s 12 yard touchdown reception. Not just because it gave the Beavers a 23-17 lead, I was happy for Cook to score his first Division 1 touchdown during a crucial part of the game. Here is a guy that was shot in the leg in 2012 and was later cut from the Butler Community College Football team’s roster. In addition, Cook suffered a season-ending injury before the 2015 season when he tore his pectoral muscle bench pressing 410 pounds. Here is a guy that was so determined to play division 1 football scoring a touchdown in his first division 1 game. With Cook’s size and good speed, I am expecting great things from number 20 this season.
On the other side of the coin......
- This Team Needs to Learn How to Win
There were missed opportunities that the players and coaching staff have to be kicking themselves for, when they watch film or think about this game. After playing brilliantly in the third quarter, the Beavers were outscored 13 to 0 in the games final quarter. They gave up 3 of 4 crucial 3rd down plays to the Gophers, and the Beaver Offense could not convert on two 4th down opportunities. To win in close games, the Beavers will need to make plays in the fourth quarter.
- Mistakes, Mistakes, Mistakes
For how many positive things that the Beavers accomplished, there were just too many mistakes and missed opportunities. On Garretson’s second fumble, the play unfolded perfectly with Villamin breaking open on a streak. Instead the Beavers found themselves playing with a 7 point deficit. Missed tackles also seemed to hurt the Beavers especially when they had Minnesota Running Back Rodney Smith stuffed in the backfield for loss. It also didn’t help the Beavers that the Defense didn’t record a single sack all the entire game. Offensively, there were times it looked like there were missed assignments on the offensive line that the Beavers (and mostly Garretson) paid the price for it. There were also some key dropped passes that could have gone for big plays and other throws were rushed. However, credit the Minnesota defense for playing a great game and forcing the pressure. Mistakes are common in Week 1. And the Beavers will learn from them and work to improve.
- Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
There were several drives where the Beavers were moving the ball well, than the drive stalled. Again, credit the Minnesota Defense. For example, just before Garretson’s second fumble, Collins made a nice catch and ran for a 25 yard gain. Also, the Beavers couldn’t capitalize on Nall’s 22 yard reception on a screen pass on 3rd and 18 that led to a first down, because four plays later, the Beavers turned the ball over on downs. After shutting out the Gophers in the 1st and 3rd quarters, the Beavers gave up 30 points to the Gophers in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Its not like the Beavers played awful in those quarters, they just need to find ways to turn great efforts into great winning efforts.
Conclusion: Enjoy the Ride Beaver Fans
If the first game is any indicator, this may be a very exciting football season for the Oregon State Beaver fans. Beaver fans should take the wins and losses factors out and focus on the overall growth and improvement of this Beaver program during this season. The Beavers gave a great effort against a decent football team from a Power 5 conference on the road. In addition, the Beavers are mostly a young team that will benefit from their experience this season. I talked to many Beaver fans that would stop watching many of the games last year since the team was getting blown out. Many Beaver fans on message boards and social media were pleased by the Beavers effort and are excited for the potential of this program under Gary Anderson.Last night was a positive step forward for this program. The Beavers need to approach this next bye week as an important step to improve and learn how to take the next step forward.