The Oregon State football team came out hot Saturday night in Hawaii; before the offense collapsed in the second half leading to a frustrating 31-28 loss. The team showed a lack of discipline at times and the loss stings twice as hard when some poor player emotions boiled over on the field. Despite the unfortunate result the Beavers get a home contest against Cal Poly and then a bye week to clean some things up.
Jake Luton and the rest of the offense looked like their normal self in the first half. Scoring touchdowns on four of the first five drives. The Luton to Hodgins connection was in full force; until it seemed Isaiah Hodgins was Luton’s only target and the incompletions began to mount. Coach Smith admitted this wasn’t Luton’s “sharpest game” and offensive penalties ended up being drive killers; but fair or not a lot of the offensive struggles in the second half belong on Jake Luton’s shoulders. Completing less than half of his passes (15/32) for 169 yards and 1 TD wasn’t going to get it done against a high-scoring Hawaii team.
Running Backs: A-
The running backs carried the offense against Hawaii. Jermar Jefferson put up his third-highest yardage game ever (183 yards) on an ton of carries (31). Artavis Pierce showed breakaway speed running for two touchdowns and 79 yards. It appeared that Jefferson was limping with an ankle injury at times and I have no idea why Pierce wasn’t given more than seven carries for the game. The offense could have used more of his speed, especially in the second half where I don’t think he was given a single carry.
Wide Receivers: C
Isaiah Hodgins had another solid game (7 catches, 96 yards) and had one of the best touchdown catches in recent memory. Look at that toe tap!
Besides that the receivers struggled and were mostly invisible. Tyjon Lindsey had just one catch all game. Hodgins had a big gain erased in the second half thanks to a questionable offensive PI call. Noah Togiai is technically a tight end, but he dropped back-to-back catchable passes that stalled one drive. Luton wasn’t his sharpest tonight, but his pass-catchers share some of that blame.
Offensive Line: C+
Unfortunately Nathan Eldridge injured his ankle in the first half and did not return to the game. Brandon Kipper had a costly false start on 4th-and-1 which led to him getting pulled in favor of Jake Levengood. Overall the offensive line gave up just one sack and they opened up plenty of running lanes; but this unit also deserves some blame for the second half collapse. Also Gus Lavaka throwing punches after the game was very unfortunate. I would not be surprised to see Lavaka and Kaleb Hayes suspended for at least one game.
Defensive Line: C-
The biggest play from this unit came at the end of the game when Jordan Whittley burst into the backfield and put a big hit on Cole McDonald. Hawaii isn’t known for running the ball, but they helped limit them to 67 yards (2.7 YPC). Overall they couldn’t generate any pressure with a three-man rush and defensive lineman contributed just three tackles on the night.
Avery Roberts lead the way with a team-high nine tackles (one sack). Hamilcar Rashed had a huge sack/forced fumble. John McCartan added another sack and overall the linebackers played well, if they weren’t being relied on to cover quick receivers. The Addison Gumbs injury in the first half hurt and let’s hope it’s not too serious. Outside linebacker depth all of the sudden looks very thin without Andrezj Hughes-Murray, Matthew Tago or Addison Gumbs.
We all knew this passing attack was going to be difficult to stop. The Beavers really focused in on stopping Cedric Byrd II (67 yards total), but left true freshman Jojo Forest on an island against another extremely talented WR in JoJo Ward. Ward’s four-touchdown night negated a lot of the goodwill that came from the secondary like: Nahson Wright’s interception, Jaydon Grant and Akili Arnold’s performances and a couple of coverage sacks.
Special Teams: B+
Overall special teams played very well. Daniel Rodriguez boomed some punts (4 punts, 200 yards); but was also asked to fake a punt and throw it deep while in Oregon State territory which he predictably wasn’t very accurate on. Also, shoutout to Luton’s nice 33-yard pooch punt. There was some nice kick returns, but there was also some poor kick return coverage. Jordan Choukair nailed all of his extra points with ease (even when penalties back him up), but then missed an extremely difficult game-tying 52-yard field goal into the wind. The ‘bad’ from Rodriguez/Choukair is really on the coaching staff; they both had exceptional games.
I’ve never handed out grades for the coaching staff, but tonight some of their decisions looked questionable in hindsight. I wouldn’t mind going for it on fourth down with just over five minutes left; but the Daniel Rodriguez fake punt was doomed from the start. I’m curious to see what Artavis Pierce’s status was in the second half, because I think he would have helped the offense with a few more carries. Hopefully the Beavers can put this game behind them and get ready for Pac-12 play where a few conference foes look beatable (UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State etc).