Oregon State’s offense helped bring home a big road victory in Berkeley Saturday night. DJ Uiagalelei had his best game as a Beaver throwing for 5 TDs, 275 yards and completing 76% of his passes on a night where the offense punted just once all game. Cal started redshirt freshman, Fernando Mendoza, at quarterback. It was Mendoza’s first career start and he caused massive problems for Oregon State’s defense. Either Fernando Mendoza is a future super star or Oregon State’s defense needs to make some adjustments (probably a little bit of both).
Here’s how it all went down against Cal:
Oregon State kicked off to start the game and forced a turnover on downs at midfield. The Beavs casually marched down the field until DJ hit Jack Velling for a touchdown (this was a theme tonight). After failing to convert the 4th down at midfield Justin Wilcox elected to play conservative football and punt on 4th-and-8 at the Oregon State 38 yard line. The approach paid off as a backed up Oregon State offense punted (it would be their only punt for the rest of the night though). Cal took advantage of the field position and got on the board with a 20-yard field goal, 7-3 OSU. Silas Bolden had a fantastic kick return and then Cal received an unnecessary roughness penalty giving the offense phenomenal field position. Just like last week though the coaching staff brought in Aidan Chiles for the Beavs third offensive series of the night. Chiles got the job down ultimately hitting Silas Bolden for a touchdown in the back corner of the endzone, but it was an adventure (2 timeouts used and a false start). Up 14-3, things were looking good; but Oregon State decided to add temporarily implode. It all started with a wild decision to do a surprise onside kick after the Chiles-to-Bolden touchdown. Cal was very unsurprised though and snatched the high bouncing onside kick and ran it all the way back to Oregon State 19 yard line. Cal needed just a handful of plays to punch in the touchdown and get right back in it. On the Beavs next offensive play Silas Bolden made some gorgeous jukes to pick up a first down, but fumbled the ball to give Cal great field position again. Cal seized the opportunity and went with an up-tempo attack against an already reeling OSU defense. In the blink of an eye it went from a 14-3 Oregon State lead to a 17-14 Cal lead. DJ Uiagalelei and Damien Martinez helped engineer the most important drive of the first half though; an 11-play, 75-yard drive when the team absolutely needed it. DJ Uiagalelei faced heavy pressure on 4th-and-goal but hit Jack Velling for another touchdown. Both teams were happy to go to halftime with a 21-17 score.
Things got wild in the 2nd half. The first FIVE possessions of the 2nd half were all touchdowns. Oregon State was clinging to their narrow lead as Fernando Mendoza and company were gashing the Beaver defense. Finally early in the 4th quarter Oregon State’s defense came up with a fumble recovery. DJ hit Anthony Gould for another long pass and then 2-way star Isaac Hodgins came up with an impressive touchdown catch to give the Beavs some breathing room, 49-32. On the next possession Fernando Mendoza made one of his only mistakes on an underthrown ball which Jermod McCoy picked off. Oregon State milked the clock with a 9+ minute drive that ended in a field goal. Cal’s offense wouldn’t be denied though as they scored late in the game and went for two, giving us the final score of 52-40 Oregon State.
- Silas Bolden was so scary as a kick returner, that Cal simply did not know what to do on kickoffs. They tried squib kicks, they tried kicking it to Akili Arnold instead, they tried to kick it out of the back of endzone. Bolden was a weapon in special teams tonight consistently giving Oregon State great field position.
- The Beaver offense was awesome tonight. They had 500 yards (until the final kneel down) and were never rattled despite Cal matching their firepower for much of the night. Brian Lindgren also called some great plays offensively.
- Anthony Gould had his best game of the season and is looking closer to 100% than he’s been all season.
- Outside of one questionably called onside, special teams was a big reason Oregon State won this game. Atticus Sappington was fantastic.
- What was that onside kick decision? Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but that decision single-handedly gave Cal a bunch of momentum and made this game far more nerve-racking than it should have been.
- Also I strongly disagree with the stance to automatically bring in Aidan Chiles on the third series of every game. Aidan Chiles was great tonight and threw a touchdown, but the coaching staff needs to consider the game script and flow. It’s very difficult to play two quarterbacks in a tight game, especially a game where you have the lead and momentum. The early QB swapping is obviously causing issues (see penalties & timeouts wasted). I could be in the minority here, but this is DJ Uiagalelei’s job and unless the offense is stalling and the team needs a spark don’t put in the backup QB.
- What kind of defensive effort was that? That was not the same defense that nearly shut Utah out. Cal has a great rushing attack, but 7.3 yards per carry?! Ouch. Fernando Mendoza was excellent but this defense should thrive against a redshirt freshman QB making his first start in the middle of the season.
- UCLA knocked off WSU and had 4 takeaways, while dominating time of possession. The Beavers will need to take care of the football and play much better defensively next week against the Bruins.
- Winning on the road is never easy in the Pac-12. Great win for Oregon State and the best start to a season since 2013. Let’s keep it rolling Beaver Nation!