The 3-2-1: Offensive woes cost Oregon State a signature win
With the Oregon State football team dropping a 19-7 decision to the Washington Huskies in Reser Stadium on Friday night, BeaversEdge.com Managing Editor Brenden Slaughter examines how the Beavers' offensive woes cost them a chance at a signature win in this edition of the 3-2-1.
3 Things We Learned
1. Oregon State's offense isn't ready to compete with the Pac-12's best defenses: For the second time this season, the high-powered Oregon State offense was humbled by a well-coached and talented defensive group. After seeing Utah's dynamic defense shutdown Jake Luton and Co. successfully several weeks ago, Washington and Chris Petersen perfected that blueprint and held the Beavers to zero offense points and just 119 yards of total offense. To say that the Huskies' defense had their way with the Beavers' offense would be an understatement. Outside of a couple of quick-hitting plays that broke big for the Beavers in the first half, the Beavers' offense was as lifeless as I'd ever seen under Brian Lindgren. Given that Washington doesn't bear the same defensive talent they have had in the past few seasons, I'm surprised that the Beavers had a performance like this following arguably their best under Lindgren against Arizona a week ago. Obviously there's a big gap in talent and coaching between the Wildcats and the Huskies, but to go from being uber-efficient to scoring no points in just six days is a huge step in the wrong direction. The Beavers simply need more on offense as the line proved they can't hold up against a top-flight pass rush. Whether it was evidenced by the paltry 2.4 yards per play on offense or the average third-down being nine or more yards, OSU was constantly harassed by the UW defensive line, and it ended up being the difference as the Beavers could never find offensive flow.
2. Tim Tibesar has the defense playing inspired football: If it wasn't for the fact that his defense had to spend nearly the entire contest on the field, we might be talking about how Tim Tibesar had drawn up the perfect OSU defensive gameplan en-route to a win. While UW's hot-and-cold offense certainly helped the Beavers' defensive efforts, they were stout in stopping the run and keeping tabs in the secondary. All in all, the Beavers' defense in the first half was good enough and trending towards being good enough to get the win. They had only allowed 10 points and 188 yards and seemingly gave the offense at least a chance to get back into the game. However, the offense managed eight net yards in the second half and the rest is history. While the loss will certainly sting, Oregon State's defense deserves to hold their heads up high. They managed to intercept UW QB Jacob Eason twice, (once for a score), while also tallying four sacks and seven tackles for loss. Sure, the UW offense wasn't great by any means, but each week we've seen bonafide improvement from Tibesar's group. Unlike the offense, which basically repeated its worst performance against the season, the defense continued to show that they're getting better and trending upwards. Whether its guys like Omar Speights, Nashon Wright, and Jaydon Grant coming into their own or playmakers like David Morris, Isaiah Dunn, and Shawn Wilson making plays when needed, the defense played as well as you could have asked them to until they simply ran out of gas. The Beavers are thin on depth, particularly up front, and that manifested in the second half when UW was able to rack up 182 of its 245 rushing yards. The Huskies managed to run 81 plays to OSU's 51 and held the ball for 36 minutes to Oregon State's 24... that's a recipe for a tired defense and that's what ultimately happened to a Beavers defense that had a very solid gameplan coming in.
3. OSU is still trending upwards, but the UW loss brings perspective: Despite the fact that the Beavers left Reser Stadium on the losing end on Friday night, there's still no doubt that this program is trending in the right direction. Defensively, the Beavers are really just a couple pieces away from being quite good, and that showed against the Huskies as the only thing that stood in their way of a standout performance was lack of depth. On the other side, the performance was disappointing and discouraging, but I'm still optimistic about the future. This same group scored 56 points a week ago in Tucson... they'll be fine. Sure, they've got a ton of work to do in order to be competitive against some of the more fine-tuned defensive units left on their schedule, but it's still an offense that has Isaiah Hodgins, Jermar Jefferson, and Artavis Pierce, amongst others. I expect the Beavers to go back to the drawing board perfect ways to execute against teams that will pressure Luton early and often. All in all, the Washington loss wasn't what you wanted to see if you were a Beaver fan, but on the same token, it shows that the Beavers are much closer to being able to compete with the better programs in the Pac-12.
1. What will the film study reveal to the offense? If there's one saying that the Oregon State coaching staff has said many times following a bad loss, it's that the film will say it's never as good or as bad as you think. However, in this case, I think the tape will tell a very bad story for the OSU offense. No matter how you slice it, the Beavers gained eight yards of offense in the second half and managed to score zero offensive points. Despite there always being positives to take away, there can't be much the offense will point to as successful moments against the Huskies.
2. What is it about Reser Stadium? For whatever reason, there's one monkey that Smith and Co. just can't seem to get off their backs. A conference win at Reser Stadium. Despite the Beavers boasting four Pac-12 road wins in Smith's tenure, the Beavers have yet to knock off a Pac-12 opponent in Reser. With the last win coming in the 2016 Civil War, and only one home game left on the schedule, there has to be a sense of urgency from the team to beat Arizona State. While the Beavers have shown they're well on their way back to relevancy in the rebuild that Smith has undertaken, not winning a home conference game in two seasons would be a not-so-great look for the Beavers. Maybe it's simply a fact that the Beavers play better on the road, but the fans deserve to have at least one Pac-12 home win a season...
Senior Day will provide a perfect bounce-back opportunity: While the Washington loss will certainly sting, the Beavers won't have to wait long as a matchup with Herm Edwards and Co. awaits them next Saturday. With the Beavers playing at Washington State and Oregon to close out the year, Saturday will mark the end of several players' careers at Reser Stadium. With the Beavers still searching for their first Pac-12 win of the season, you have to figure they're going to lay it all on the line to get a win for the seniors. Arizona State is a tough opponent, yes, but they're not at the level of Washington in terms of raw defensive talent and coaching, so expect the Beavers to be able to get back on track offensively. With all that this senior class has been through in their four or five years, emotions are going to be riding high on Saturday, perhaps giving the Beavers the boost they need to earn their first Pac-12 home win since 2016. With everything that's happened this season, it would be fitting for the Beavers to close out the Reser slate with a win on senior day.