A ROUGH, ROUGH NIGHT FOR RILEY AND CREW
CORVALLIS – To say OSU limped its way through the 69-27 rout at the hands of Washington would be to add a ton of sugar to the sour taste in the mouth of any OSU partisan watching. If the ASU drubbing the Beavs endured last week was, as Mike Riley said, like watching Jr. High School football at times, then Saturday’s loss at Reser made the Beavs appear a Pop-Warner team in search of orange slices.
When it comes to figuring out what went wrong against the UW for the Beavs, one doesn’t have to read between the lines.
Game At a Glance
Five-hundred and thirty rushing yards along with seven touchdowns with three tailbacks and 692 yards of total offense – that’s what Washington stacked on the Beavers. A resounding “ouch” just doesn’t do this loss justice, as the Huskies picked up the second most yards on the ground in UW history, shocking Mike Riley and the Beavers into paralysis.
Oregon State’s junior quarterback Sean Mannion tossed three picks en route to what was perhaps his, and his offensive line’s, worst night of football in 2013 – and given the three losses that preceded this clunker, that’s saying something.
You could argue that OSU’s collective inability to maintain control of the football and work their way downfield -- when it was still a game -- left their defense in tatters, susceptible to the absolutely crushing run attack that Washington had prepared for Riley’s Beavers. But OSU’s defense, from the jump, was flatter than three-day old Reser potato salad left out in the cold and then run over by a Zamboni.
UW running back Bishop Sankey racked up 125 yards on just 11 carries during a first quarter – and that quarter felt more like a first half, The Huskies went on a rapid 17-0 run to start off Oregon State’s last home game of 2013 and end the suspense early.
But the real storyline isn’t Sankey’s individual efforts. I wish this loss was that easy to explain away. Washington piled up a total of 486 yards rushing between three running backs – proof that Oregon State just didn’t come to play with the big boys Saturday night.
Freshman QB and first time starter Cyler Miles took control early, and making it look easy, as UW took a 14-0 lead before some Beaver fans had found their seats.
Mannion had little time, and then made the same mistakes he’s been making in the season’s second half – this time it resulted in two first half picks and three total. That porous offensive line performance combined with multiple third-and-long scenarios did not bode well. Constantly, early on, the Beavs struggled to battle their way out of their own red zone, let alone get the ball into Husky territory.
And while the offense continued to sputter and spin out of control, Mark Banker’s defense had a brief moment where they tried to turn the tide. But it didn’t last long.
Oregon State’s offense went the entirety of the first half without a single third down set where they had anything less than seven yards to gain in order to move the chains. The result was to leave their defensive cohorts further in the lurch, having to defend shortened field after shortened field.
And when the whistle blew on the first half, the Huskies had a commanding 27-0 lead with 319 yards of total offense -- 197 more hashes than the Beavs.
And that was just the first half, folks.
The second half was more of the same. Washington repeatedly lumped salt on the open wounds of a Beaver defense that seemed to fade further. It wasn’t long before second- and third-string Husky running backs started racking up the yards on a Beaver defense that just didn’t have any answers.
The second half was just insult to injury, and led to serious concerns and questions headed into the Civil War on Friday (Fox Sports 1, 4 p.m.)
Players of the Game
Had it not been for the ever-churning legs of Brandin Cooks, Oregon State would have very likely ended the night without a touchdown from their starting offense. Cooks scored on a 29-yard screen from Mannion after 20 seconds had transpired in the fourth quarter. As bad as that game was to look at, Cooks remained must-see TV.
Junior linebacker D.J. Alexander’s night culminated with a total of 10 tackles, seven of which were assisted. But he earns the award of defensive player of the game not because of his ticks in the stat column, but because of his hustle. Alexander put the pedal to the floor on every play, chasing down sprinting tailbacks and wideouts that his fellow teammates couldn’t manage to wrap up. The junior put a struggling defense on his back and worked his tail off in lieu of the mounting yardage of the opposition.
Turning Point/Game Changer
How about when the Beavs came out of the locker room? The whole first half was a fiasco for the orange and black on both sides of the rock, and it’s hard to pinpoint just one place where the game took a turn for the worse.
Mannion was unable to find liftoff with sophomore wideout Richard Mullaney, and juniors Cooks and H-back Connor Hamlett were stifled time and again off the line in one-on-one coverage. Mix that with an offensive line who couldn’t handle four rushers let alone more, a Beaver rush attack that managed minus-1 yards (including sacks) in the first half – and the turning point in this one might have been the Huskies merely showing up on the field. But we’ll go with Mannion’s second pick. OSU’s defense had finally shown signs of life early in the second quarter but the interception let UW score again – it was “only” a field goal but it made the score 17-0 and OSU never again showed any sign they were ready to take back ‘Ol Mo.
Unexpected Developments -
Mannion failed to eclipse the 250-yard mark for the first time in 2013, as he was incessantly hampered by both the UW pass rush and the 19th ranked passing defense in the nation. The junior tossed for three interceptions on the night, the last of which was returned for six late in the third quarter. Mannion’s final interception of the evening had the few left in attendance asking “Where’s Cody Vaz?” He came on in mop-up duty to complete 6-of-8 for 79 yards and a TD.
OSU did little to upset the rhythm of Cyler Miles, who had 162 passing yards and a TD, as well as 26 yards rushing. Miles’ ability to move in the pocket, without having to deal with any OSU pressure, spread the Beavers thin and opened up massive lanes for the likes of running backs Sankey, Deonte Cooper and Dwayne Washington to roll through.
Apparently the Pac-12 refs decided that facemasks weren’t fouls after Washington’s Marcus Peters yanked Brandin Cooks down to the turf by the helmet in the first quarter.
If you need any other indicator of how this loss stabbed at the program moving forward, Mike Riley initially refused to let players speak to the media during the post-game press conference. Ryan Murphy came out briefly later, saying the Beavs would not fold up their tents.
Meaningless Stats of the Game-
The Beavs gathered up 118 rushing yards on just 20 attempts, and did it with three running backs. Freshman Chris Brown was responsible for 73 of those yards, and scored OSU’s only rushing touchdown of the night. Sophomore tailback Storm Woods and junior Terron Ward accounted for a total of eight receptions for 85 yards through the air.
Oregon State has 98 tackles on Saturday. Considering how many missed tackles and poor angles of pursuit were taken throughout the bout, that speaks more to UW’s dominance than anything else.
Special Teams Edge – Goes To OSU
And only because of freshman wide receiver Victor Bolden’s 98-yard kick return for a touchdown with 12:40 remaining in the fourth quarter. Bolden made attempt after vigorous attempt to break the lines of the Washington special teams units and got hammered quite a bit. But he kept fighting and he broke through eventually. He had a whopping 305 return hashes after returning a staggering 12 kicks in Saturday’s loss.