Five Fast Thoughts: Oregon State falls flat against Minnesota
There's no way to spin it. It's hard to find positives from Oregon State's embarrassing 48-14 loss at home against Minnesota. BeaversEdge.com gives five fast thoughts following the game.
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1. The Timmy Hernandez fake punt pass was huge. Let's go ahead and start with a rare positive from this game. Oregon State's 15 play, 80 yard touchdown drive to get on the scoreboard needed an incredibly drawn up fake punt pass to survive. In all honesty, it can be fairly viewed as a bad thing that OSU's only true touchdown drive needed a trick play to convert. Anyways, kudos to whoever drew that play up. It was nice. If Oregon State didn't convert on that fourth down, OSU might not have scored a single point.
2. Turnovers were absolutely crucial. Obviously. All three of Oregon State's turnovers resulted in points for the Gophers as Minnesota had 17 points off turnovers. The game was 20-14 with Minnesota leading at halftime, so it was close, but after the Ryan Nall fumble, the momentum of the game completely flipped in Minnesota's favor. The defense lost all of their intensity and were just completely ran off the field - literally. How about the 15 play, 77 yard drive that took 9:24 off the game clock in the fourth quarter? All 15 plays were rushing attempts. Not a single pass. But back to the point - the turnovers put Oregon State behind early, and the Nall fumble ended OSU's hopes of a victory.
3. Artavis Pierce got the start at running back. It was surprising to see Pierce get the start at running back over Ryan Nall, who mostly everyone thought (including me) coming into the season was the best player on the roster. Pierce looked a step faster than what we're used to with the slow developing Nall runs. It makes sense to start Pierce and then bring in Nall as the bruiser when the defense is tired, but it obviously didn't work out like that as Oregon State's offense was simply bad all around. AP and Nall totaled just 15 carries, and Thomas Tyner didn't even play as he had a hamstring injury. Will Pierce be the featured back moving forward? It's quite possible. Nall didn't receive another carry after his fumble. Combine that with the fact that he didn't start the game, and Pierce might be the guy moving forward.
4. The offense has no identity. Here are Oregon State's final seven drives of the game: punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt, punt, punt. I talked about the fake punt pass that gave the Beavers a huge break already, and OSU caught another huge break when Minnesota's QB botched a snap - recovered by OSU. Trevorris Johnson punched the score in a couple of plays later. Oregon State couldn't move the ball at all. They had just one drive that went for more than 40 yards. I just don't know what else to say about the offense. It was bad. No rhythm. No identity... I don't think Jake Luton is one of the bigger problems with the offense, but his play certainly wasn't impressive on Saturday night.
5. I actually don't think the run defense was that bad. Okay, hear me out. I know Minnesota scored 48 points, but the turnovers really hurt this team, and they simply gave up in the fourth quarter. Through three quarters, Minnesota rans the rock 40 times for 127 yards, which averages to 3.2 yards per carry. The fourth quarter was a totally different story though as they defeated Beavers were trampled by Minnesota. Conor Rhoda didn't attempt a pass in the fourth quarter, and the Gophers ran the ball 18 times for 126 yards. So again, I was impressed with the front seven run defense most of the game, but the defense fell on its face in the fourth quarter as a whole. And also, the pass defense stunk. Rhoda threw the ball just eight times for 158 yards - compared to Luton's 28 attempts for 135.