It was another predictable result in the LA Coliseum where the Beavers fell to the No. 14 Trojans 38-10 in a stadium where the Beavers last defeated USC. The Beavers missed numerous opportunities to shock the world on Saturday. Although, the Beavers were outgained significantly by the Trojans 512-319 total yards, the Beavers had major opportunities to capitalize on two USC turnovers in the First Half, but the Beavers squandered both chances. The Beavers fell into an early 14-0 deficit, and it looked like another dominant USC victory over the Beavers. However, Beaver Safety Omar Hicks-Onu forced USC’s punt returner Ajene Harris to fumble to give the Beavers excellent field position at the USC 27. Beaver Receiver Isaiah Hodgins looked to make an excellent catch in the endzone, but he couldn’t hang on to it. Instead, the Beavers attempted a 46 yard Field Goal which was partially blocked the next play. The Beaver Defense caught a major break when USC QB Sam Darnold fumbled the snap and the Beavers recovered on the USC 23. After the Beaver Offense only moved the ball 5 yards, the Beaver Kicker Jordan Choukair missed a 37 yard field goal.
The Beavers squandered other golden opportunities. After forcing USC to Punt near the end of the First Quarter, the Beavers got the ball on midfield and proceeded to drive the ball to the USC 7. QB Darell Garretson made an excellent play eluding the USC pass rushers, but his throw to a wide open TE Tuli Wili-Matagi was off target. The Beavers settled for a Choukair 33 yard field goal to make the score 14-3. Beaver Nation had to be disappointed because the Offense wasted opportunities to take the lead, and/or make the score more favorable.
The Beaver Defense, which had been playing tremendously despite giving up an early 14-0 lead, forced USC to Punt at midfield. However, Hamilcar Rashed was called for a roughing the Punter penalty, which gave USC the First Down. USC would score a Touchdown 5 plays later, which made the score 21-3. The Beavers were able to drive 68 yards in 14 plays to have RB Thomas Tyner fall short of the First Down on 4th-and-2 from the USC 22. Manase Hungalu was able to intercept Darnold at midfield, but the Beavers weren’t able to do anything with the football and the First Half expired.
The Beavers first drive in the Second Half stalled out at midfield when Garretson threw a bubble screen to WR Seth Collins for no gain on 3rd-and-1, which forced the Beavers to Punt (personally I would have gone for it on 4th Down). USC would drive 91 yards in 9 plays to take the lead 28-3. Beavers were able to drive 69 yards down to the USC 4 yard line. Garretson fumbled the snap and the Beavers turned the ball over once again. The Beavers were able to strip the ball from Darnold on the next USC possession and the ball was inches from landing on the Goal Line, which was very close to being a safety. The Beavers were able to take advantage of great field possession by finally completing a drive with a Touchdown when Artavis Pierce scored from 6 yards out. The Beavers made the TD harder than it actually was when Garretson completed a nice ball to Seth Collins that was originally called a TD, but was overturned when the Officials ruled him down at the 1 yard line. Collins, who thought he scored, immediately was called for a taunting penalty. As a result of the Overturned TD with the penalty added, the Beavers had the ball on the USC 16. Fortunately, for the Beavers were able to score two plays later. USC was able to add 10 more points on the board, which allowed them to win comfortably against Oregon State. Here is what we learned from the Beaver loss.
The bottom line is that the Beavers were beaten soundly by a superior team 38-10, and they are 1-5. When Gary Andersen and the coaching staff watch the game film, they are likely to be kicking themselves over missed opportunities. Although the Beavers were significantly outgained by the Trojans, the Beavers were able to give themselves opportunities to make the game much closer, but they figuratively shot themselves in the foot on numerous occasions. They squandered scoring opportunities after two gift USC fumbles deep in USC Territory. Blame the kicker, sure, but the Beavers only managed 6 yards combined in both scoring opportunities and no points on the board. In addition, the Beavs missed a wide open TD on the following drive and settled for a Field Goal, and came up short on a 4th-and-2 on the USC 22. If the Beavers were able to complete those opportunities with Touchdowns, they would have had 28 points, which would have given them a lead at the half. Also, if the roughing the Punter was taken away, which led to a USC Touchdown, the Beavers could have had a 28-14 lead at half! Instead, reality kicked in and the Beavers were down 21-3 at halftime.
The Beavers had opportunities to make the game closer in the 2nd half. Garretson fumbled a snap on the USC 4 yard line, and the Beavers couldn’t convert on a 3rd-and-1. The Beaver Defense was getting worn out in the 4th Quarter and USC, while not particularly sharp on Offense, clearly was the better team. The Beavers had opportunities to make it close against a more talented team, but fell short with penalties, missed assignments, and a lack of execution, which is on par with every game they have played this season.
The Beavers are likely never going to get all of the 4 and 5 star players that USC possesses all over the board. The talent level and athleticism was clearly evident between the two teams. My cousin constantly pointed out how it looked as if the Beavers were constantly chasing USC guys all over the field. In addition, the USC Front Seven made it look too easy to get to the backfield as they were much faster and stronger upfront than Oregon State was. The Beavers need to start upgrading both their Offensive and Defensive Lines in Recruiting. The Beavers are clearly losing battles upfront.
Despite the mistakes, turnovers, and penalties, the Beavers played arguably the hardest they have all season. They never seemed to hang their heads and kept battling to the final whistle. Yes, the score indicates that the team has ways to go, but the fight for every play could eventually lead to some positives in the near future.
The Beavers were able to get some pressure on Sam Darnold. Although, USC had some injuries on their Offensive Line, it was good to see the Beavers generate some pressure and force USC to struggle a bit.
The Beaver Offense was able to get some good drives going. RB’s Artavis Pierce and Thomas Tyner played well. Pierce constantly demonstrates the strong desire to get extra yards. Seth Collins had a great game (despite his taunting penalty). He was able to make Sportscenter’s Top Ten with his one handed grab.
Although it’s no secret that the Beavers have struggled at the QB position in the Gary Andersen Era, Garretson played well in the Second Half, which hopefully is a good sign for things to come for the remainder of the season.
The Rest of the Schedule Might Provide Opportunities for the Beavers
With all due respect to Colorado, Stanford, Cal, Arizona St., Arizona, and Oregon, the Beavers just finished with arguably the most difficult part of their schedule. Washington, Washington State, and USC are the three best teams in the Pac-12 right now. Stanford looks to be the most difficult game coming up for the Beavers as they re-entered the Top 25 and RB Bryce Love is unstoppable right now. However, that game is on a Thursday Night, and the Beavers have a history of playing great against ranked teams in Corvallis on Thursday Nights (Ex. Upset vs No.1 USC in 2008). Colorado has yet to win a Pac-12 game, and they come into Corvallis this week. Arizona State plays in Corvallis in the late cold November, which is quite a weather contrast for the Sun Devils. In addition Arizona State has not won in Reser Stadium since 2005. Arizona and Cal seem to be improved, but the Beavers defeated both teams last season. Oregon is having trouble replacing QB Justin Hebert. The Beavers played well in their last two trips to Autzen, and lets not forget the 2016 34-24 Victory by the Beavers.
Although the rest of the season looks less difficult, the games are still going to be challenging. The Beavers are more than likely to be the underdogs in every game remaining on their schedule. In addition, future opponents are likely to look at Oregon State as an easy win unless things dramatically change. Colorado comes to Corvallis next Saturday as 12 point favorites. Can the Beavers turn their luck around, or will the Season continue to swirl down the toilet?