After four weeks of play in the 2013 season, there's only two numbers that Beaver Nation needs to worry about: 3-1. No matter how you cut it, the Beavers have set themselves up nicely for a post-season run and have managed to eke out some momentum as they embark on a very back heavy Pac-12 Conference slate.
Saturday's first half debacle in San Diego turned into another case of 4th quarter heroics by the Beavers as they grasped victory from the jaws of defeat, winning 34-30, and outscoring San Diego State 20-3 in the final frame, capped by a Steven Nelson pick-6 and a Ryan Murphy INT to seal the deal.
While many could spend time focusing on who's performances weren't up to par, here's who BeaverBlitz feels stood out positively in the sensational finish in sunny So Cal.
Rommel Mageo: Joel Skotte started his fourth consecutive game at MLB, but was quickly pulled in favor of the young and inexperienced Mageo.
Rommel, a 6-2 244 pound redshirt freshman from Pago Pago, American Samoa, opened eyes all around Beaver Nation on Saturday with his aggressive style of football.
Rommel was a hammer in the middle, something that OSU had sorely missed in the first three weeks. What looked to be a developmental year for Mageo, has more than likely turned into a year where he will be plugged into the starting line up from here on out. Mageo finished with six tackles (4 solo) and 2.5 tackles for loss. With Mana Rosa stepping up in the middle up front, if Mageo can continue to grow and remain aggressive, the Beaver defense will improve dramatically moving forward.
Terron Ward: Ward won't get recognized statistically by many (26 yards rushing/10 yards receiving), but as the game progressed, center Josh Mitchell went down with an ankle injury and it was evident that the Beavs would have troubles running the football. Ward put his ego aside and was fantastic in pass protection all night.
The most impressive part of what he did wasn't the blocking itself, but probably the ability to be able to re-focus and when his number was called, come through. Ward scored two touchdowns on the night, the 2nd of which pulled OSU within nine and had the team believing it could pull off the comeback.
It's Ward's selflessness and willingness to sacrifice his stat line for the team that landed him on the Super Six.
Mannion and Co.: If we wanted to, it looks like we could just cement Mannion and ]db]Brandin Cooks[/db] into the Super Six weekly, they again went off in week four - Cooks tied a single game record for receptions with 14 (tied with Mike Hass) and finished with 141 of Mannion's 367 yards.
Mannion spread the ball around well, finding eight different receivers, six of which recorded multiple receptions. His TD's went to Ward, Kellen Clute, and Kevin Cummings. Cummings has quickly become Mannion's go-to guy on third down. Four of Cummings' six receptions were for a first down or touchdown.
Again Mannion didn't turn the ball over in the air, he did fumble, but his TD to INT ratio is a ridiculous 15-1 and he and Cooks are both atop multiple major statistical categories nationally.
Obum Gwacham/Naji Patrick: In football, it's a game of inches and these two had two of the most important plays late in the game. Gwacham raced down field to cover a booming Keith Kostol punt which looked destined for the endzone, but 51 yards later 'Boom downed the ball at the SDSU 4 yard line.
After the defense forced a punt, Brandin Cooks misplayed a bounce and again, hustle on special teams saved OSU's bacon. Naji Patrick recovered the Cooks fumble deep inside OSU territory and had SDSU recovered and scored to move the lead to 31-14, the likelihood of an OSU comeback would have diminished greatly. Two gritty hustle plays that are deserving of praise.
Sean Harlow: Welcome to the big time young man. Coaches had hoped to save Harlow's redshirt season, but injuries forced their hand and early on in the first half his number was called. While the run game was non-existent, Harlow did a good job protecting Mannion in the pocket and more than held his own in his first collegiate game experience.
Also worth noting is that he started on the road, at a time when nothing was going right for the Beavers, and was next to another freshman on the right side of the line. Harlow will now have game film to review with Coach Cavanaugh and even if Gavin Andrews returns this week, the three quarters played will serve to be invaluable moving forward in his progression.
OSU Secondary: This may be a controversial pick, they gave up 15.7 yards per completion, 251 yards and two scores, BUT, an over run crossing route led to 80 of those yards and one of those scores (171 yards, one TD, and two INT's otherwise).
What does need to be highlighted are the 13 tackles by safety Tyrequek Zimmerman, the go-ahead Steven Nelson pick-6, and the game clinching interception by Ryan Murphy. The other factor that will be glossed over by many is the effect that Rashaad Reynolds had on the game.
All season Reynolds has locked down his side of the field and quarterbacks have only attempted the occasional fade route, hoping to catch him napping. No such luck. Reynolds is a bona-fide lock down, All-Conference corner and now that he's been moved into the nickel slot position that Jordan Poyer vacated, he'll get his hands on some passes and show his play making ability - showcased on the Murphy pick, which Reynolds had go through his hands first.
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