After last week’s Civil War debacle, losing to the Oregon Ducks 48-24, I wish I was kidding. Talk about uninspiring. And the old adage: “It wasn’t that close” can even apply toward that Oregon State effort. If there was ever a ‘what was that’ category, this game would fit in, nice and tidy.
Wow. Six turnovers. The Ducks racked up 432 yards rushing. Their season high. This was a rivalry game, wasn’t it? It was in Corvallis, a home game for the Beavers, right? On paper, this appeared to be a tight matchup, didn’t it? What happened?
Outplayed and out coached. The Beavers did not look prepared for the Oregon truck that steamrolled them in to another overmatched opponent. Turnovers aside, the Ducks were clearly the better team. Special teams, offense and defense, the Ducks dominated. OSU coach Mike Riley may have given a solid pep talk before the game, or he may have given the usual. And either no one listened or the usual would not have sufficed. Something different had to be done and wasn’t. Lack of motivation or execution from the players ended in an overwhelming mismatch. Again. The five year streak of victories continues for the Ducks, and nothing showed Saturday from the Beavers perspective of any change in the near future.
One might call it a lack of leadership. It has been well documented of Riley’s genuine and kind demeanor. I believe in Riley as a leader, however, I do believe a tougher approach may be in order to get his team to a higher status. I was not on the sidelines to see any activity from seniors Jordan Poyer or Markus Wheaton. But additional speeches from either one of them could have helped changed the outcome or give hope for the future.
In no way, shape or form do I wish to mislead anyone in my perceptions of the events surrounding this season. I believe each player and coach is trying their best. And I know as athletes and members of the program they do care about performances as well as outcomes. All things considered, if constant improvement is a goal, as it should be, my writings and views are aimed toward this direction.
Which leads me to, yes, the quarterback situation. Where have you gone Sean Mannion? Beaver nation turns its lonely eyes to you! Mannion threw four more interceptions against Oregon giving him 13 for the year in seven games. For his career, he now has more picks (31) than touchdowns (29). In each game Mannion has played this season, he has never rushed for positive yardage. I am not asking him to completely change his style overnight. But if a quarterback can’t throw his way out of trouble, running needs to be an option.
And Cody Vaz, when given the opportunity, has not set the world on fire for Beaver fans. Other than the BYU game, Vaz has appeared solid yet mediocre. Clearly his touchdown to interception ratio is acceptable (8-1). However, he too has not rushed for positive yardage in any of the five games he has appeared in. Not to mention the glaring fumble against Stanford. Eleven games and neither QB has been on the plus side of running the football? Seems odd for an 8-3 record.
Too often, in wins and losses this season, Vaz or Mannion has left the defense hamstrung. Continually leaving the defense in a mindset of needing to stop the opponent wears on even the best of defenders. If you lead, they will follow. I once noted that statistics often do not tell the whole story. This can be true, but the numbers don’t lie. Yes, we can all talk about the turnaround season. But looking at the bigger picture, the next level is my point to this argument. When searching for answers or wanting someone to take the reins, everyone looks at the field general position of quarterback.
Oregon State should win this weekend against Nicholls State. And Riley apparently is toying with the idea of a two quarterback system. I am on board with this. Perhaps Mannion and Vaz can learn more from each other splitting time guiding the offense. Furthermore, it will be a feel good ending to the regular season.
Following this game should be a berth in either the Alamo Bowl or Holiday Bowl. A Big 12 team should be their opponent and quite competitive. According to ESPN.com, the bowl matchup could be against Oklahoma State (7-4, still to play Baylor), Texas Tech (7-5) or West Virginia (6-5, still to play Kansas). Should the Beavers win this weekend, more than likely they will be favored against either of those three.
A 10-win season is still possible. Stay in the moment and achieve all that is possible for this season. From a coaching standpoint and any players wanting to apply for leadership roles for next season, think of these last two games as building blocks toward the next level.