Golf’s greatest player, Jack Nicklaus, once had a discussion with a reporter. The reporter asked him about a three putt in a major championship. Nicklaus contended he has never three-putted in a major. The reporter persistently claimed the contrary, trying to explain when and where. But Nicklaus continued to refute. Amazing, in the fact Nicklaus believes so much in his abilities, three jacking a green isn’t even a possibility.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson always after a round, regardless of the scorecard, draw on what went right rather than hashing what went wrong. Their goal, in every tournament, is to give themselves a chance at winning. What makes a champion is the ability to block out the negative. Believing in yourself is the foundation for success.
What does this have to do with the Oregon State Beavers? More than you think. As fans, it is easy to look on the field to see shortcomings. But players and coaches know better. Plus, they possess a unique ability to not dwell on the recent or distant past. This is not to say weaknesses don‘t exist. However, the team is doing many things correctly. Sticking together, for one, and knowing with each game they are improving regardless of perception. Furthermore, ignoring the naysayers either on social media or word of mouth. Despite numerous injuries and key departures, this team has three wins in four games.
In the first four games, the team’s rush attempts were 24, 33, 28 and 20. The 20 came against San Diego State, when starting running back Storm Woods and fullback Tyler Anderson were both out. So, the team played to its strength: passing. It wasn’t pretty all the time, but it didn’t have to be. In the end, the Beavs came out on top, 34-30. It proved to be enough. Of course, Beaver nation wishes the running game was more effective, but the passing game gave the team its best chance of winning.
Which brings us to defense. Through the first three games, the opposition’s run game each week felt like the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona. But last Saturday, the OSU defense held Aztec running back Adam Muema to only 71 yards on 28 carries for an average of 2.5 yards per rush. Sure, it wasn’t the option quarterback that had burned the Beavers in previous games, but it was marked improvement. Open gaps on the OSU defense in earlier games were closed against San Diego State. And yes, the two interceptions were vital, moreover, game changers. Again, narrowing the field of play by creating turnovers provides the groundwork for putting the team in position to come out victorious.
Time for Beaver nation to get on board with the team and think positive. ‘What could have been’ is not important right now. ‘What is’ takes center stage for the upcoming game against Colorado. The Beavers can get to 4-1 before their first bye week (followed by two crucial road games), and 2-0 in conference play. Is it going as planned? Probably not. But the team is progressing in the right direction. If not, they would have more than one loss. A second half surge, overtime win and a couple of late picks in a tight game. All amounting to getting it done when they have to. Encouraging building blocks to a season which easily could have gone the other way, but didn’t.