Oregon State was very fortunate to get their first victory of the 2017 season against Portland State. The Beavers were out-gained by PSU 515-380 yds. in total offense. Portland State lost True-Freshman starting QB Jalani Eason late in the game due to injury. Backup QB Josh Kraght, who happened to be the Vikings starting receiver that had just scored 2 TD receptions in the game, entered the game at QB and nearly led PSU to a major upset. Kraught led a 9 play, 67 yd. Touchdown drive late in the game, which was capped off by a 1 y. TD run by Kraught. PSU missed the 2-pt. conversion, but they led the Beavs 32-28 with 2:43 left in the game. The Beavers were able to drive 77 yds. on 7 plays to take the lead on a 16 yd. TD reception from Isaiah Hodgins from Jake Luton with 1:08 left. Kicker Jordan Choukair converted the extra point, and the Beavs led 35-32 and were one Defensive stop away from winning the game. PSU and Kraught had other plans. They were able to march down to the Beaver 29 yd. line with 3 seconds left in the game. Initially, they elected to go for the win, but after a timeout, they reconsidered and went for a game-tying 46 yd. field goal. PSU had problems at the kicking position. They missed their first extra point, and their second extra point was blocked. PSU brought in a new kicker, Graysen Kennedy to attempt the field goal and his kick was just barely wide right. The Beavers were able to narrowly escape with a 35-32 victory over PSU.
First off, credit Portland State for the way they played yesterday. Honestly, I believe they outplayed the Beavers all afternoon and deserved to win. Portland State has played impressive against two FBS foes (BYU, and Oregon State) so far this season. Portland State could easily be 2-0 this season. The Vikings defense is going to give the Big Sky fits. Also, True Freshman QB Jalani Eason is going to light up scoreboards in his future. He is going to be a great QB for years to come. In addition, WR/QB Josh Kraght was the MVP for PSU. He was impressive catching 2 TD passes at the Wide Receiver position. In addition, he came in and played for Eason and did a great job engineering a 9 play, 67 yd. TD drive, which gave PSU a late lead. Also, he drove the Vikings down in the last minute to give his team a shot to send the game to OT. Hats off to that young man, and the rest of the Vikings players. Head Coach Bruce Barnum has done a great job at PSU. Lastly, it was impressive how well PSU played when they drove down from Portland at 5am for the early 11am kickoff. Here’s what we learned in the Portland State game.
The Defense Is Really Struggling
Its very obvious that the Beaver Defense has not looked impressive so far this season. Both Colorado State and Portland State racked up over 500 yds. of total offense against the Beavers. Portland State was able to run at will against the Beavers. PSU had nearly 300 yds. rushing and averaged over 5 yds. per carry. The front seven looked like they were lost in their assignments, lacked the physicality needed to control the line of scrimmage, and had difficulty getting to the QB. In addition, the Beavers struggled controlling the edge and outside of the box. This needs to dramatically improve if the Beavers want to make some noise this season.
Although, the Beaver Cornerbacks played much better yesterday, the Beaver Secondary had some miscommunication, which led to PSU Receivers being open down the field, including Kraught’s two long TD receptions. In addition to the secondary, the linebackers need to improve their coverage in their area.
The Beaver Defense, however, had several positives to take away from the PSU game. They did force three turnovers. The Beavers were able to stop PSU on a crucial 4th Down when PSU was 2 yds. from scoring a TD. The Defense also managed to stop two crucial 2-pt. conversions and came up with a score when Manase Hungalu returned an Eason interception for a TD. Finally, the Beaver Defense was able to keep PSU out of the end zone on the last PSU drive of the game.
Overall, the Beaver Defense needs to improve their communication. Players are looking lost on the field. The Beavers need to be more physical up front and along the edges. Each player needs to focus on executing their defensive assignments correctly to better serve their teammates.
The Offense Must Improve
There have been low points for the Beaver Offense this season. Arguibly, there was not a moment lower than when the Beaver Offense stalled out with 6:41 left in the game. The Beavers caught a break when the PSU punter went to his knee to catch the snap on the PSU 39 yard-line. The Beavers had a 2 point lead, with momentum, and they had a chance to take a two score lead and essentially take control of the game. Darrell Garretson started the drive with a 4 yd. run. The Vikings stopped Artavis Pierce with a 2 yd. loss, then made a nice open field tackle on WR Isaiah Hodgins to force a 4th and 5. The Beavs elected to kick a 51 yd. field goal that missed.
Credit the Portland State Defense for making things challenging for the Beaver Offense. The Beavers had a difficult time running the ball again`st PSU. The running game, which was expected to be a strength this season, has not produced the way the Beavers would like. The Beavers only managed 154 yds. on the ground, led by Ryan Nall’s 59 yds. rushing. Both Colorado State and Portland State Defenses stacked the box to shut down the Beaver’s running game, and it worked. It’s very likely that most opposing teams will follow the same blue print against the Beaver Offense this season, unless Jake Luton and the passing game start to excel.
QB Jake Luton has looked really good at times. He was 6 for 6 in passing completions what turned out to be the game winning TD drive. He has done a good job escaping pressure. However, he’s had moments where he struggled. He has missed on some deep balls, and he has thrown 4 interceptions in 2 games. On the bright side, he continues to grow, and he has a good core around him to help his game develop. My dad brought up an excellent point that the Beavers should throw more and spend more time working on developing the team’s intermediate passing game, which are higher percentage throws and would hopefully reduce the number of defenders in the box, which would aid our running game.
The Offense also shot themselves in the foot several times. A 50+ yd. run by Artavis Pierce was reduced because of a holding penalty. In addition, the Offense was 3-10 on Third Downs. This number needs to greatly improve.
Although, there is a lot to fix on Offense, there were some positives. WR Isaiah Hodgins had a tremendous game with 5 receptions for 59 yds. and 1 TD. TE Noah Togiai is continuing his successful season with 5 receptions for 95 yds. Senior RB and TCU Transfer Trevorris Johnson scored his first TD as a Beaver and added a nice 18 yd. run. Artavis Pierce had the longest rush of the game for the Beavers with a 29 yd. run, which should have been a 50 yd. run, but was reduced because of a holding call on WR Jordan Villamin at midfield. Overall, the final game-winning touchdown drive was the most important drive due to the fact that the Offense came through when the team needed it the most.
This team needs to make dramatic improvements, period. There are no more excuses for this team. The schedule is only going to get tougher the rest of the season. If the Beavers continue playing the way they have been this season, they will not win another game. There is a huge laundry list of areas they need to improve upon, but mostly it comes down to execution, improved communication, and improving their physicality. Minnesota is a physical, talented team, which will be an enormous test for this Beaver team. They have two great running backs, an excellent new coach P.J. Fleck, and a dominant Defense. The Beavers are going to have to bring their A-Game next week, or it could end up as another disaster.