The Beavers come out of week 3 with a 3-0 record, ranked in the top 15 by both the AP and USA Today, and mostly healthy. There were challenges in the San Diego State game without a doubt and the game was closer than both Vegas and Beaver fans expected, but there are lessons to be learned from these games as well as the 55-7 thrashings.
The offense 64 total snaps, evenly distributed with 32 runs and passes. Oregon State has been effective in controlling the tempo these first three weeks, the total number of offensive plays has been within 2 plays in each of their games so far (the run/pass balance has been similar as well).
Quarterback: DJ Uiagalelei (64)
It was an up and down game for Uiagalelei, who was once again effective in the offense’s bread-and-butter throws over the short middle of the field (5-for-9, 98 yards and 1 TD). The story changed drastically when SDSU was able to get pressure, where DJ was only 1-for-7. He could not blame pressure on his first interception when he overthrew an open Anthony Gould (surely the fault of an announcer Alex Faust talking about Oregon State not having a turnover this year as the ball was snapped). On the second there was pressure starting to come up the middle that caused Uiagalelei to underthrow a covered Silas Bolden. Take either of those two picks and the game looks far more in hand than it did watching most of that 4th quarter.
Running Back: Damien Martinez (39), Deshaun Fenwick (23), Isaiah Newell (2)
It is hard to say anything bad about Martinez when he gets the ball. He picked up 102 yards on 15 carries, 82 of those yards after contact. Pass protection is more of a concern, Martinez was trucked by an SDSU linebacker during the Beavers first drive and allowed 2 pressures on the 4 plays where he was asked to pass block. Fenwick was trusted with the ball at the end of both halves when the Beavers needed yards and came he through.
Wide Receiver: Silas Bolden (49), Anthony Gould (46), Jeremiah Noga (37), Rweha Munyagi Jr. (12), Trent Walker (8), Jimmy Vaslin III (6)
Bolden led the team in targets with 10, but only caught 3 of them (as mentioned before, he was the intended target on one of the picks, but was well covered). Gould’s 75 yards TD reception was on a tunnel screen, a play that worked multiple times for the Beavers. Jesiah Irish was hurt and did not play in this game, so Jeremiah Noga took over the slot role for his first career start. He has been climbing up the depth chart in the first two games and he picked up 3 catches on 5 targets this week.
Tight End: Jack Velling (54), Jermaine Terry II (25), Riley Sharp (13), Jake Overman (6)
The tight end pecking order became much clearer in a tight game. We knew going into the game that Velling is the primary receiving option at the position and that held true as he was targeted 5 times and came up with 2 catches (as well as 1 drop). Jermaine Terry II is the blocking TE and saw a decent amount of work, but no targets.
Offensive Line: Tanner Miller (64), Joshua Gray (64), Taliese Fuaga (62), Heneli Bloomfield (59), Grant Starck (12)
It was another clean game for the O-line. The rushing attack was routinely effective, enough that it seemed clear that Oregon State was looking to work on the passing game later in the game. I exepect that the Beavers would have leaned on the rushing attack more in a game against a team like Washington State. The O-line itself gave up no sacks or QB hits, and picked up the blitz effectivly when it came. Grant Starck filled in at LG, RG, and RT for various snaps throughout the game and was the only linemen outside of the starting 5 to see snaps on offense.
It would be criminal to write up the O-line without mentioning Joshua Gray’s moment of triumph. While it was somewhat surprising that the Beavers pulled this play out against SDSU rather than holding it for later in the year, it will be fun to watch other teams account for Gray as a receiving threat around the goal line!
The Beaver defense played 67 total snaps and held the Aztecs to 3 points until mid-way through the 4th quarter. They had 6 sacks and although SDSU was able to move the ball at times, the OSU D came through when the Aztecs threatened to pull close late in the game.
Defensive Line: James Rawls (51), Joe Golden (43), Isaac Hodgins (30), Semisi Saluni (10), Takari Hickle (10)
Oregon State started slow in run defense for the second straight game, but once again cleaned up and was effective against the run for most of the rest of the game. The pass rush beat 3 individual blocks on James Rawls sack on the Aztec’s third drive (and 2 more on Andrew Chatfield’s sack later in that same drive).
Linebackers: Easton Mascarenas-Arnold (67), Calvin Hart Jr. (64), Sione Lolohea (50), John McCartan (43), Cory Stover (33), Andrew Chatfield Jr. (15), Melvin Jordan IV (3)
Mascarenas-Arnold was outstanding against the run, and ran down the SDSU running backs to the sidelines multiple times. He led team with 8 tackles. Hart Jr. started this game after missing the UC Davis game and was 2nd on the team with 6 tackles (he also had 4 pressures). His return was made all the more important as fellow middle linebacker Makiya Tounge was carted off the field after an injury on kickoff coverage in the first half and looks like he will miss some significant time. Chatfield was a menace in his 15 snaps, creating 4 pressures, 2 of which were sacks. He also had a great hustle play coming off a block by the right tackle to catch a scrambling SDSU QB Jalen Mayden on 3rd and 6 on the first drive of the second half and force the punt.
Cornerbacks: Jaden Robinson (67), Ryan Cooper Jr. (62), Tyrice Ivy Jr. (30), Jermod McCoy (29), Josiah Johnson (6), Noble Thomas (1)
Robinson has established himself as an anchor of the outside cornerback position. He was targeted 6 times, and gave up 3 catches for 28 yards (only one of those yards came after the catch). He is also spending time on both sides of the formation, allowing Jonathan Smith and Trent Bray to experiment with the second outside corner spot. Tyrice Ivy Jr. was sharper today, allowing 2 catches for 9 yards. He split time with Jermod McCoy in this game, who was a little shakier (3 catches on 3 targets for 50 yards). Ryan Cooper Jr. was reliable in his slot role, allowing 1 catch for 16 yards on 4 targets.
The secondary benefited from Mayden’s sporadic accuracy. He missed multiple open receivers, particularly in the first half. When he was allowed to sit in the pocket in the 2nd half he started to find those receivers and the Aztecs were moving the ball.
Safeties: Akili Arnold (67), Kitan Oladapo (65)
Arnold had two of the biggest plays of the game. He had the below 4th quarter interception in the end zone, jumping in front of TE Mark Redmond to keep it a three score game. He then picked up a sack on 3rd down during SDSU’s final attempt to close the gap, blitzing off the edge.
The safety blitz was very effective for Oregon State this weekend: Oladapo and Arnold blitzed a combined 7 times and generated 5 pressures, including a sack on the last 3rd down of the game.