We’re two games into the the 2017 season, and well, things haven’t looked so good. The Beavers had a terrible second half against Colorado State, and then had to orchestrate a game winning drive in the final minutes of their match-up against Portland State.
To most people, things look a bit bleak. But don’t worry just yet, Beaver Nation, Building the Dam will carry some optimism for you. Here’s ten reasons (or excuses, as some will say) to not give up.
#1 - Moving the Colorado State game was a curse
This game was originally scheduled for September 23rd, but was moved to August 26th so that CSU could open their new stadium with a more premier opponent than Abilene Christian. It was an emotional day for the organization as they honored their beloved old coach, Sonny Lubick, by putting his name on the field (just like they had at the old stadium). Heck, even their PA announcer had his swan song by working the first part of the game.
So the odds were quite stacked against the Beavers between the emotions, the crowd (complete sellout with an impressive student section), the heat, the elevation, and early start to the game and season.
#2 - Portland State became a trap game
After moving the CSU game to August 26th, that created a trap scenario with Portland State sandwiched between two big non-conference opponents. I know, I know. The Vikings were a three-win FCS team a year ago. But in their first two games of the year against FBS foes, PSU looked like a solid Big Sky team. They have two legit corners that may be playing on Sundays, and their speed on offense was certainly impressive with Za’Quan Summers and Jalani Eason. And let’s face it, the Beavers have notoriously struggled against mobile quarterbacks, so that shouldn’t be new to anyone.
#3 - The offense still has potential
We’ve seen flashes of what this re-tooled offense looks like. Just look at the first scoring drive of both games. Against CSU the Beavers strung together an eight play drive that ended with an big 39 yard touchdown pass. Then in their first drive against PSU, the team methodically marched down the field with a 13 play drive.
The two minute offense also looks good as we witnessed at the end of the first half of the CSU game on a nine play, 73 yard series that took just a minute and 13 seconds and should have resulted in a touchdown. They then put another beautiful display of the two minute drill on the game winning drive against PSU, on seven plays for 77 yards in one and a half minute.
When this offense is humming, it can be really good. Throw in the fact that this offensive line is still learning to play together. It took four games last year to figure out the right configuration, and three of those guys are gone. We’re also breaking in a new quarterback who has shown progression in his efficiency between the two games. Also, Togiai is a monster and still presents as the biggest mismatch for anyone who tries to cover him.
#4 - This defense is still learning
There’s still a youth movement going on the defensive side of the ball. We saw two true freshman make significant impacts on defense in linebacker Kesi Ah-Hoy and safety David Morris. And if you look at who is stepping on the field, you’ll see many redshirt freshmen and sophomores that are part of the rotation. So yes, they’re going to struggle, but they’re young which means they should still be able to learn.
#5 - The Minnesota game will be at night
Those first two games started at 12:30 pm and 11:00 am in their respective time zones. The game against Portland State was the earliest start time in Oregon State history. I think we’ve all become accustomed to the late start times that television has dictated for us, so perhaps we put it all back together in our natural habitat that is #pac12afterdark.
#6 - Students will be back
What was the biggest disappointment for me during the PSU game was the attendance. Reser was EMPTY, and the student section was quite anemic. While walking down Monroe Street, it certainly had the feel of summer in Corvallis as there was almost no students. Many students will be showing up in Corvallis this weekend as classes start back up September 20th, so I’m looking forward to a more energized crowd for our team to feed off of.
#7 - Oregon State has a reputation for slow starts
Remember 2004? That team started 1-4 and still managed to finish 7-5, including a bowl victory over Notre Dame. How about 2006, 2007, and 2008? We started 2-3 three years in a row, but still managed to win ten, nine, and nine games respectively. Each of those seasons listed above included at least one blow out loss in those slow starts, but they all ended with a bowl season win.
#8 - Help is on the way
The offense is still without it’s most athletic player in wide receiver Seth Collins, who has sat out the first two games due to a finger injury. Getting him back (maybe before the Wazzu game?) adds yet another wrinkle to the offensive game that has a vast array of weapons at all the skill positions.
On the defensive side, there’s defensive tackle Craig Evans. Though it’s not likely we’ll see him this weekend due to eligibility issues. When (or if?) he becomes eligible, he could provide an immediate spark and depth to a defensive unit that has been getting gashed by opposing rushing attacks and failing to get much pressure on quarterbacks.
#9 - There’s a bye week before Washington game
This bye week comes at a good time (unlike last years, which came after the first game) as it occurs during a difficult three game stretch of at Washington State, home against Washington, and at Southern California. It will give the Beavers time to continue to work on the defensive communicative issues (as they will still likely exist), go through some reflection, and heal bumps and bruises. Another bonus is that Washington will be playing a tough game in Boulder during the bye week, so the Beavers will be the more rested team.
#10 - We just started year three of a massive rebuild
Again, year three is off to a rocky start, but look at the progress from year one to two. Outside of the two wins in 2015, the Beavers were competitive in only a couple games. Then in 2016 you could make the argument the Beavers were competitive in all but two or three games. This year is still young, and as evidenced earlier, the first few games don’t always tell the full story.
Look at Colorado. They’re in year five of the MacIntyre era. Their first three season looked like this: 4-8, 2-10, 4-9. It wasn’t until year four where the Buffs finally broke through and got a winning season (after ten losing ones). I guess what I’m trying to say is, be patient. Rebuilding isn’t always a linear thing.