GAME MILLER AND BEAVER D SWARM CAL
YOU KNEW IT WAS going to be the Beavers' night watching the kickoff to open the second half. In OSU's 31-14 victory over No. 23 Cal, a win that made OSU bowl eligible, 285-pound DT Latu Moala opened that third quarter bobbing and weaving his way through Cal's kickoff stoppers for 21 yards, out to the 43 yard line. And how fitting that it was a defensive lineman making the play.
Sean Canfield was again spectacular tonight -- that he did so much with Cal bottling up Jacquizz Rodgers on the ground added even more luster to his performance.
Joe Halahuni further established himself as a force in the receiving game with his second 100-plus yard effort in the last three games. WR's Damola Adeniji and James Rodgers busted off some big plays of their own.
But oh, that Beaver defense.
And Oregon State's d-line, with some schematic buzz involving the 'backers, had the game they've been searching for -- and it came against a Top 25 team on the road.
OSU DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Mark Banker rolled up his 'backers against Cal. In terms of defensive line push tonight, the result was striking.
Indeed, the Beavers shut down Cal's running game and brought the heat on Cal quarterback Kevin Riley in a way they haven't all season.
Cal managed only 239 yards in total offense and about 65 of those hashes came on the final drive -- after the game was decided and with a number of OSU starters on the sidelines. Oregon State meanwhile racked up 436 yards on offense, with 342 of it coming through the air.
What made the difference on defense for the Beavs, especially in the first half, was in (mainly) rolling up David Pa'aluhi, the Beavs' middle backer.
Having to account for another rusher/run stopper with the speed of Pa'aluhi served to regularly free up the OSU d-tackles and d-ends -- and they made the most of the opportunities. Keaton Kristick, Dwight Roberson and Keith Pankey also took their turns as stand-up, loaded 'backers looming over Cal offensive linemen.
BANKER ROTATES HIS defenders a lot, but it was particularly noticeable against Cal. OSU has started Kevin Frahm and Ben Terry at d-end this season but against Cal, it was Gabe Miller and Matt LaGrone who took the first snaps on the edges.
Meanwhile, Stephen Paea and Brennan Olander lined up on the inside, with Sioeli Nau and Moala subbing in regularly. Frahm and Terry got their turns too, as did Taylor Henry.
All were productive and made plays, contributing to a Beaver D that dominated the trenches.
THE END RESULT was a high powered Cal offense that got squelched, early and often, by the swarming Beavs. Cal made it beyond Oregon State's 40-yard line only twice.
The secondary had a better night, too, and players like Lance Mitchell were superb against the run. Cal was down 21-7 at halftime and didn't get into the end zone again until about a minute was left in the game.
The Beavs on offense, meanwhile, rode the left arm of Canfield all night long.
On defense, it was a group effort, one the Beaver Nation has been pining for this season. And it all started up front.
Cal's star running back Jahvid Best was injured in a scary incident in the second quarter on Cal's first touchdown. Best, who had been neutralized to that point by the OSU defense, went to leap high over the goal line, was hit and propelled up even higher. He landed awkwardly in the end zone on his upper back, his torso whipped around and his helmet went flying. Best lay on the turf wide-eyed and medical personnel rushed in. His jersey was removed and he was wearing an oxygen mask when he was taken out a stretcher about 15 minutes later. But the word later from the hospital was as positive as could be hoped for, that he he had movement in all his extremities and had suffered a concussion.