The defense is much improved
No question that three games into the 2019 season, that this defense is quite a bit better than a year ago. Already we have seen 24 tackles-for-loss and seven sacks, nearly reaching the half way point of last year’s totals of 53 and 15 respectively! Then there’s the turnovers where the defense has made the halfway mark of last season’s eight takeaways. Looks like we’ll be seeing more of the best turnover prop in college football.
There was some concern that the defense could struggle against Cal Poly’s triple option offense since Oregon State won’t see that style of play again all year and in recent history have struggled against the run. Well the defense put that fear to rest as they shut out the Mustangs after their lone touchdown on the first drive. I was fairly impressed with their discipline to the triple option and for the most part sticking to their assignments. My wife even turned to me in the first quarter and claimed, “They’re tackling on the first try! When’s the last time we’ve seen that?”
Beavers won't go the entire season without a turnover
Entering the game against Cal Poly, Oregon State was just one of a several teams left in FBS without a turnover. That came to an end in the fourth quarter after a pass by Tristan Gebbia hit the back of a lineman’s helmet and was intercepted deep in Cal Poly territory. The game was obviously in hand and the defense kept the opposing offense from taking advantage by getting their own interception. But I think it goes to show the improvement in the offense. The quarterbacks aren’t getting harassed as there has just been two sacks through three games, well below the pace of last year’s 48 (yikes!) sack total. I think we can all agree though that this offense has learned to take care of the football much better than a year ago.
Luton gets his groove back
The Cal Poly defense looked to be just what Jake Luton needed to get back on a roll. He was an efficient 17-of-22 for 255 yards and a career high four touchdowns. Luton again took care of the ball by not throwing an interception and not taking any sacks. Initially, it appeared that Luton was falling back into old habits by targeting his favorite receiver, Isaiah Hodgins, early and often. But in the second quarter, another target emerged (more on him in a bit), and an old favorite in tight end Noah Togiai may have shaken off the drop-bug as he caught a few passes as well.
Short guys can ball too
That new target that emerged for Oregon State? His name is Champ Flemings, and yes he is listed just at 5’5’’ and 141 pounds. The redshirt sophomore had himself a day with five catches for 142 yard and two touchdowns. He even took took a kickoff for 66 yards. The highlight that got people talking about the diminutive speedster was a 47 yard touchdown catch where he climbed the ladder to steal an underthrown ball from a taller defender. The play even caught the eye of a particular hall of fame wide receiver.
The bye week is coming at a great time
It might seem early to have a bye week, but for Oregon State, the arrival of this one is much needed. Every team usually has attrition with injuries, but holy cow, Oregon State is hurting. Before the game, Beaver fans found out that several starters would be sitting out in running back Jermar Jefferson, wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey, and defensive tackle Jordan Whittley. This was on top of the expected missing key pieces from last week’s injuries in linebackers Addison Gumbs, Matthew Tago, and offensive lineman Nathan Eldridge. All of these players, except for Gumbs, figure to be back to be back at some point, so fortunately there is no game next week to miss.
Early afternoon games under three hours are nice
The game against Cal Poly was scheduled for a 1:15 pm kickoff, and since the game was on the Pac-12 Network, the TV timeouts would be fewer and shorter. Also with the Mustangs’ triple option offense, their seconds off the game clock would tick-off more quickly. This made for an easy day (for me anyway) to do things around the game. I got up Saturday, put a rack of ribs on the smoker, put some football on the TV, got a workout in, and got the place ready for company. We ate said ribs, left for the game at 12:15 and were back home at 5:00 where we ate the day’s leftovers and watched the UFC Fight Night card followed by more football.
I like evening and night games for football, but if they make up the majority of the home games, it gets old real quick. It was a real treat to have an early afternoon game when I got to be home at a reasonable hour. Let’s have more of these please.