Don't ask me why Andersen is gone -- but OSU lost a good man

Don't ask me why Andersen is gone -- but OSU lost a good man

Why, Coach, why?

That's all I can say in the wake of the news that Gary Andersen is no longer the football coach at Oregon State. I don't know why. It makes no sense. Colleges don't change head coaches in the middle of the season -- any season -- and although the school's athletic director, Scott Barnes, insisted many times over that it was "a mutual decision." Really? Nobody was pushing from either side? Boosters played no part in this? I just don't see Andersen leaving his team in the middle of the season. He doesn't seem that sort of man.

This was a shocker. And, of course, so was the news that Andersen is walking away from more than $12 million owed him by the university.

This stuff doesn't compute and when all you get is "this is a mutual decision," you can't help but speculate. Be my guest.

But this I know: Andersen is a quality coach and quality man. I believe, given time, he was going to get it done in Corvallis -- at least as much as is humanly possible. Mike Riley spoiled a lot of Beaver fans who think winning is easy at Oregon State. It is not. I said it when Andersen was hired -- this is one tough job. You're in the rising shadow of the Ducks, you don't have the facilities that many other Pac-12 schools have and don't have a lot of money to throw at recruiting.

So don't ask me what happened in Corvallis. For right now, I just don't know. But what I do know is that Oregon State lost a good one Monday.

Self-inflicted wounds doom the Beavers in loss to Trojans

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Self-inflicted wounds doom the Beavers in loss to Trojans

Just five minutes into the game the Beavers were already down 14-0. Missed field goal, dropped touchdown passes, inexcusable turnovers, you name it, the Beavers found ways to hurt themselves.  Did USC stop the Beavers, or did OSU stop itself? Whatever the answer, the Beavers have to move on and regroup in preparation for Colorado next Saturday. 

Final score in LA: USC 38 – OSU – 10

 

 

 

 

Where does OSU go from here?

Where does OSU go from here?

It’s a simple question, with a not so simple answer; where does Oregon State go from here?

Prior to the season many people thought the Beavers would be a bowl team. Year three of Gary Andersen would see the big jump in the win-loss column.  The fan base was full of optimism, and justifiably so.

However, instead of a return to respectability we have seen this team take a giant step backwards. Following a 42-7 drubbing at the hands of the Washington Huskies on Saturday the Beavers fell to just 1-4 on the season. That one victory took last second heroics from the offense to steal, yes steal, a win from FCS Portland State.

Against the Huskies the Beavers struggled to do anything on offense. At the end of the third quarter they had a total of just 104 yards of offense and zero scores. To put that in perspective the Huskies had 98 yards and a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Not the best of comparisons.

But we have to be fair on this night. The defense played lights out in the first half. They gave up that big drive to start the game, then hunkered down and held the Huskies scoreless the rest of the half. It was the best defensive half we have seen from OSU all season. But then the OSU we have some to remember showed up in the third quarter, allowing the Huskies to score 21-points.

Failing to score while failing to keep the opposition from scoring… well, you’re not going to win any games with that formula.

The frustration from coach Andersen could be heard in his voice postgame. The coach seems to be just as bewildered as we are. And that should be most troubling of all. When the captain of the ship doesn’t know why it turns left when he turns the wheel right, you have a serious problem.

There is something off with this Beavers team; I just can’t quite put a finger on it. At this point, it may be time to start looking to 2018.

The Beavers still have USC, Colorado, Stanford, a much improved Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon remaining on the schedule.

Will it be possible to pick up a win in that stretch? Of course it will be. Anything is possible, but that doesn't mean it's plausible. Win one game - Sure. Win enough games in that stretch to become bowl eligible – don’t hold your breath.

The Beavers we saw on Saturday will be lucky to win a quarter, let alone a game the rest of the way. And that is a sad state of affairs for a team that we all thought, myself included, was ready to turn the corner.

 

 

 

Hard times ahead for Beaver fans

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© James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Hard times ahead for Beaver fans

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After seeing the strong close to the 2016 campaign by the young Oregon State Beavers, I’m sure the fan base had the mindset that they’d be in store for a big year. By that I mean a bowl bid and possibly an upset.

Let’s cut to the chase; it’s not happening.

Gary Andersen is in his third year as the head coach and I’m typically a fan of giving coaches four years, but it may be time to cut bait after this season. They were blown out again by Washington State, sound familiar? To make matters worse, starting quarterback Jake Luton exited Saturday’s game with a thoracic spine fracture. That doesn’t bode well for an offense that isn’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard.

The team simply doesn’t have any fight. On their putrid offense, they rank 93rd in points per game and 100th in yards per game. The running game was thought to be a strength the offense with junior running back Ryan Nall, however, they currently sit at 106th nationally. Ranking 71st isn’t bad when you examine their passing attack. On the contrary, when you take into account that they’re typically playing from behind defenses are playing soft coverages allowing for easy completions and yardage.

There’s not much to enjoy when looking at their defense either. They rank 106th or worse in points, passing, and rushing yards allowed per game. Essentially every major category defensively. If you exclude their game against FCS opponent Portland State, they’ve been outscored by a whooping 94 points! I’m no math major, but that doesn’t sound like a team that’s competing.

They’ll host Washington this upcoming Saturday before heading to the coliseum to face the USC Trojans. Not exactly an ideal schedule for a team that’s struggling. I expect both teams to roll against the Beavers.

Why not rest players earlier when games stretch long past 3 hours?

Why not rest players earlier when games stretch long past 3 hours?

A few bouquets and boos from my college football weekend:

  • I've said it frequently, but coordinators make a difference. Oregon was brutal on defense last season and then Jim Leavitt shows up as defensive coordinator. All of a sudden Oregon is bringing a crowd to the football and not missing tackles. There is organization instead of chaos. Now I understand the opposition is going to get tougher, but this is a night-and-day difference. Leavitt knows what he is doing.
  • Portland State drew only 4,442 in its home opener Saturday afternoon and sent those loyalists home with a disappointing 37-14 defeat. That program just can't seem to find a groove. I wish I had an answer. Well, I do have an answer -- winning. But I just don't know how that's going to happen.
  • Oregon State? Offense was much better at Washington State but the defense is awful. As I said, coordinators matter and you wonder if somebody is going to walk the plank on the OSU coaching staff.
  • Oregon's running game is terrific and certainly Justin Herbert is an NFL quarterback in waiting. But against better competition you have to wonder if the lack of experience at wide receiver is going to hurt.
  • What has happened to Stanford?
  • Football coaches have always bewildered me with their reluctance to remove starters -- particularly their valuable quarterbacks -- late in games. Oregon kept a good part of its offense on the field past the halfway mark of the fourth quarter with a huge lead. Washington State kept Luke Falk out there way too long in a blowout. Oregon State was still sending Jake Luton on the field long after the Beavers' chances of winning were long gone. Luton, of course, got hurt.
  • Here's my deal: these college games today are taking forever to play. Instead of looking at the game clock and making a decision about taking players out, take a look at the wristwatch once in a while. Three hours is a long time to stay on the field. I get tired just watching these games and I can't imagine what it's like to keep trudging back out on the field to take more hits as long games crawl to a finish. Resting players is not only a precaution, it's a chance to allow the backup kids who are killing themselves in practice all season to get some game time.
  • One more thought about Oregon: It was an impressive enough win at Wyoming that there was no need to go for it on fourth-and-two in the third quarter with a 42-10 lead. And there was certainly no reason to be throwing to the end zone with 11 seconds left in the game. Yeah, I know -- you want the backups to get some experience. If that's the case, put them in earlier.

What to do at OSU, where the Beavers may not win again this season

What to do at OSU, where the Beavers may not win again this season

The first thing Oregon State must do after that 48-14 loss to Minnesota is probably the hardest thing -- stay the course. Stay together. Things are going to get worse before they get better. And the worst thing that could happen is for the team to split apart.

Things are obviously not going the way the Beavers thought they would and I would expect some players aren't as talented or reliable as the coaching staff thought they'd be. Coach Gary Andersen's mission the rest of the way will be to find players he can depend on -- the ones who won't quit on him. This thing could get real ugly during conference play and the main thing is to keep working. I still believe Andersen will get the job done at OSU -- but nobody ever said it was going to be easy (except the dolts who thought firing Mike Riley would immediately turn the Beavers into conference champions.)

The Beavers have to come together and keep working. Cliche? Of course. But truth. There's no other choice. The conference isn't going to allow them to call their season off or ask for a do-over.

But let me mention one other thing: People are calling out their defense and certainly, there are problems on that side of the ball. But rest assured, there are offensive problems, too.

In today's high-octane version of college football, it's impossible for defenses to hold up very long when the offense isn't moving the football. Oregon State got one first down in the second half Saturday, along with just 67 yards of total offense. For the game, the Beavers -- who thought they had a solid running game this season -- rushed for just 80 yards. That's terrible.

And when your defense is shaky, you cannot afford to have the offense grind to a halt. Their defense played well enough in the first half -- when the offense gave it a chance, The second half looked like a complete defensive surrender -- but I'd make the case that the offensive inefficiency led directly to it.

This is also a team making all sorts of mistakes -- fumbles, interceptions, blown blocking assignments and missed tackles. And fair-catching a punt at the three-yard line set the Beavers up for second-half trouble, too. The mental mistakes must stop.

Those things must be dealt with. The overall goal now is a simple one -- improve with each game.

Winning games is going to likely be a big problem the rest of the season. Losing can quickly become a disease that rots the core of a team.

The Beavers must not let this thing blow up.

Beavers no match for P.J. Fleck and Co.

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Beavers no match for P.J. Fleck and Co.

Oregon State started this game trailing 17-0, but clawed back to make to it just a six point game at halftime, 20-14. However, P.J. Fleck made sure that was the closest the Beavers would get to his Golden Gophers, outscoring OSU in the second half 28-0.  Now the Beavers head on the road to start Pac-12 play. Where do the Beavers go from here?  We will find out next Saturday in Pullman.

FINAL SCORE: Oregon State 14 – Minnesota 48

RAPID REACTION:

Best team on the field Saturday in Corvallis? Portland State!

Best team on the field Saturday in Corvallis? Portland State!

The Oregon State Beavers needed a win in the worst way Saturday against FCS Portland State. And that's just about what they got -- a win in the worst way.

Let me first say, OSU's drive to take the lead that culminated in a touchdown with a little more than a minute remaining in the game was a big thing for the Beavers. They came through in a tough spot and took control, if momentarily, of the game.

But let me also say, the Beavers didn't beat the Vikings. The Vikings beat the Vikings. Portland State was the better team in Reser Stadium Saturday and I know that's a very painful thing for Beaver fans to understand. But you can pick just about any category on the final stat sheet and PSU had the edge. But even more than that, consider that PSU lost its starting quarterback in the fourth quarter and still marched for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:43 to go in the game. And, oh yes, the Vikings couldn't covert PAT kicks or a field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. But for a kicker, this game belonged to Portland State.

And one other very big thing -- Portland State failed on a fourth-and-goal in the first half after an incomplete pass in the end zone. There was pass interference on that play -- even the Pac-12 network announcers saw it that way -- and it wasn't called.

I expected the Vikings to give the Beavers a game but I certainly didn't expect them to dominate Oregon State. The Vikings rushed for 291 yards while holding OSU to 154 on the ground. And this was supposed to be a Beaver team with a serious ground attack. And Portland State is supposed to be a team that will finish eighth or ninth in the Big Sky Conference. I think the Viks are obviously much better than that, by the way.

But what are we to make of the Beavers?

Well, so far, not much. But it's way too early to give up on them. Gary Andersen is a good coach and I think his team is talented enough to make something of a turnaround. But I'm not sure it will be enough to avoid a disastrous won-lost record. If a Big Sky team can run on them, I'd expect every team in the Pac-12 will run them into the ground. Oregon State would probably be better off to get to a ball-control offense and keep its defense off the field as much as possible.

On the defensive side of the ball, think last year's Oregon team. It could be even worse than that, if possible.

The Beavers can rejoice all they want over that win over Portland State. But in reality, there wasn't much to celebrate.

 

Beavers grab win over PSU, but it wasn't pretty

Beavers grab win over PSU, but it wasn't pretty

Corvallis, Ore. – The Oregon State Beavers played host to the Portland State Vikings on Saturday, and for much of the game it was hard to tell which team was from the FBS and which team was from the FCS. Were the Vikings playing that good, or were the Beavers playing that bad? It didn’t really matter. In the end, the scoreboard said it was a win for the Beavers, but it sure didn’t feel like it.

Portland State wasted little time showing Beaver Nation that they come to play. Just a minute into the game the Viking found the end zone, and held the 6-0 lead following a missed PAT.

OSU would answer back, and would take a 14-6 lead into the locker room at halftime, but there was little doubt that Portland State had dominated the half. In fact, if not for some poor ball control and unforced fumbles, the Vikings may have had a two score lead at halftime.

Oregon State looked better in the second half, but it still felt like the Vikings were the better team. PSU tore the Beavers apart on the ground, rushing for nearly 300 yards, to go with 224 through the air. 

Portland State had more first downs, more rushing yards, more passing yards, fewer punts, and held the ball longer than the Beavers, but none of those stats matter. The only one that means anything is the final score, and on Saturday it was just about the only stat in favor of Oregon State.

Following the tough loss against Colorado State, Beaver Nation was still semi-optimistic. The loss felt more like a bad speed bump to start the season, rather than a sign of things to come. Following the struggle against the Vikings, all optimism is lost.

Starting running back Ryan Nall said in his post press conference, “a win is a win.” I find it hard to believe he truly feels that way.

The offense is not running the ball nearly as well as they thought. Nall, a pre-season All-Pac-12-Conference selection managed just 59-yards on 16 carries. The much hyped Thomas Tyner: Just 10-yards and two carries.  Overall, the team had 154-yards on 32 carries. Not the offensive running machine we thought we would see this fall.

But the offense is the least of the worries for the Beavers. If they hope to beat teams in the Pac-12 they have got to fix their issues on defense. For two straight weeks the Beavers have let teams run on them at will. Colorado State had 191-yards and three touchdowns against the Beavers. The following week against Colorado they managed just 88-yards and no scores.

How about the Vikings? They had just 86-yards rushing and no scores last week against BYU. This week they had 291-yards and three touchdowns.  If mediocre rush offenses look unstoppable against the Beavers, just imagine what good rushing teams like Stanford, Oregon, Washington, or USC will do to the Beavers? On second thought, if you’re a Beaver fan, don’t imagine that. It is the things nightmares are made of.

Year three was supposed to be the big leap for Gary Andersen and company. It was supposed to be the year Oregon State finally got over the hump and ended their streak of seasons without a bowl game. It was supposed to be the start of something big. Instead, it feels like the same old song and dance.

As coach Andersen said in this post game press conference, “we’re definitely a work in progress.” Hopefully we eventually get to see it.

 

A look at Portland State's million-dollar early season football schedule

A look at Portland State's million-dollar early season football schedule

Portland State this week is headed to Corvallis for the second half of a very difficult season-opening schedule against teams out of their league. Way out of their league.

The Vikings' first game of the season was at Brigham Young last week. This week, "Barneyball" heads down I-5 to meet Oregon State in Corvallis.

By now, you know the reason the Vikings have scheduled two games they won't likely win:

Money. Big money for a Big Sky football program.

Portland State, it has been reported, got $575,000 for its 20-6 loss at BYU and is scheduled to receive $500,000 for the bus ride and expected loss to the Beavers.

Those are pretty good paydays but nothing like what a team gets for getting massacred by college football's big boys. Arkansas State is getting $1.65 million for a trip to Nebraska and Wyoming -- a pretty good team -- is going to get a million bucks for playing at Iowa.

I've never liked the idea that the smaller schools seem to need these big guarantees to keep their programs going. Playing up in class brings problems. First -- even though PSU can point to an upset win at Pullman over Washington State a couple of years back -- they are most likely going to get beat. And beat by a large margin. Second, when you play bigger and faster teams you'll be lucky to get out of some of these games without taking a physical pounding.

I don't like the notion that players' health could be sacrificed for the sake of money.

But welcome to the reality of college football.