Ryan Nall

Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

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Oregon State falls apart in second half, drops opener to Colorado State.

There are a few reasons for optimism following the first game of the Beavers season.  However, grabbing a big early season win isn’t one of them.  The Beavers came into Fort Collins as underdogs, but many felt they had what it takes to pull the upset.

That looked to be the case early on, as the Beavers were the first team to get on the scoreboard. A big strike through the air from new quarterback Jake Luton to Timmy Hernandez gave OSU the 7-0 early in the first quarter.

For much of the first half it was a well played, back-and-forth matchup, but one arguable call in the final seconds of the first half would permanently shift the momentum in favor of the Rams.

Colorado scored a touchdown to take the 24-17 lead with just 1:19 left in the half. With the clock ticking away Oregon State started to march down the field putting together a near perfect two-minute drill.

With 13 seconds on the clock, and the ball on the CSU 7-yard-line, the Beavers had time for one more play. Luton took the snap, scrambled under pressure, side armed a pass around the defense, and found the outstretched arms of a diving Noah Togiai for the tying score. Or did he?

The ruling on the field was incomplete, but was sent upstairs for video review.  It looked as if Togiai had control of the ball, with a knee inbounds, as he fell out of play. Every replay they showed looked like a touchdown. Twitter thought it was a touchdown. Television announcers thought it was a touchdown. I thought it was touchdown. But when the review was finished the referees stayed with their original call of an incomplete pass.

Oregon State settled for a field goal and headed to the locker room trailing 24-20, rather than knotted up at 24.

That play seemed to take the wind out of the Beavers sails, and swung the momentum to the home team. The Rams came out and outscored the Beavers 17-0 in the third quarter and never looked back.

The second half seemed to be nothing but a constant replay of a Beavers turnover followed by a Rams score. Interceptions, fumbles, it didn’t matter. CSU found ways to frustrate the Beavers and grind the Oregon State offense to a halt.

The Beavers looked good early, and behind Ryan Nall they had 125 yards on the ground in the first half. In the second half they managed just 30 rushing yards. That is pretty much a quick way to sum up the game for the Beavers.

But it’s not all negative for the Beavers. Despite the high number of interceptions, Jake Luton showed that for the first time since Sean Mannion was on campus, the Beavers might have some semblance of a passing game. Last season the Beavers averaged just 29.4 passing attempts and 174 yards per game. In the loss to the Rams Luton had 27 pass completions on 47 attempts, for 304 yards and two touchdowns.  Sure, he did have three interceptions, but it was still one of the better quarterback performances the Beavers have seen in some time.

The loss leaves a sour taste in the mouths of Beavers fans, but the season is still young. Now all eyes will look to the next opponent: The Portland State Vikings. Anything less than a blowout win for the Beavers and then we may want to sound the horns of concern. As we saw against CSU, the Beavers can shoot themselves in the foot and easily become their own worst enemy. Hopefully next Saturday the Beavers are playing only the Vikings, not the Vikings and themselves.

Final Score in Fort Collins: Colorado State 58 – Oregon State 27

Next Up: The Beavers open up their home schedule against the FCS Portland State Vikings. Kickoff is set for 11:00 AM, Saturday, Sept. 2nd.

 

Thomas Tyner a luxury for Oregon State's already strong running game

Thomas Tyner a luxury for Oregon State's already strong running game

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Former Oregon running back Thomas Tyner, making a comeback with Oregon State, is not yet the running back he was while with the Ducks in 2014. 

“He’s gained some weight but our weight room coaches have done a good job of getting him into shape,” OSU senior linebacker Manase Hungalu said Wednesday at Pac-12 Media Days. 

Tyner is listed at 232 pounds on OSU's website, up 17 from the 215 he played at for the Ducks before his 2015 ended following preseason shoulder surgery.  

“Thomas is a great addition,” junior RB Ryan Nall said. “He’s got to be back into the flow of things. It’s kind of hard after being out of the game for two years and jumping back in.”

Tyner is not carrying blubber, according to Nall. The former Aloha High School star has simply bulked up beyond the ideal weight for him to take advantage of his speed that made him a 6A champion in the 100 meters while at Aloha. Nall said Tyner definitely appeared to be a bit rusty and slow during the team's first practice this earlier week.

“But he’s still got it," Nall said. "Once he chips that rust off and gets back into it, I think he’ll do good things for us.”

Tyner played at Oregon in 2013 and 2014 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery prior to the 2015 season. Rather than return to the Ducks in 2016, Tyner elected to retire. Now he's got the itch to return to the field. The way his medical retirement was written didn't allow for him to return to Oregon. Tyner had considered going to OSU out of high school so heading to the Beavers was a natural fit.  

"I definitely missed it," Tyner told reporters Tuesday in Corvallis. "I think it's just more excited than anything. I'm excited to get to play this season." 

Hungalu said he definitely saw flashes of the old Tyner during that first practice. 

“He did a good job running the ball,” Hungalu said. “He looked how he looked at Oregon, which is a good thing for us.”

It will be interesting to see how Tyner fits in. He had a productive career at UO but Nall is the man for the Beavers.

Tyner said he expects to learn a lot from Nall in terms of operating within the Beavers' offense. For Tyner, returning is more about erasing the prospects of always wondering what he could have done next on the football field than it is about being the guy. 

"Once you're about ready to be done with school and you have to figure out what you want to do with your life and I don't like living with 'what ifs," he said. "I felt like the 'what if' was football with me. I didn't want to go out how I did, medically retiring. I felt like I owed it to myself."

Oregon State's bowl dreams will become reality in Gary Andersen's third year

Oregon State's bowl dreams will become reality in Gary Andersen's third year

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - This time, fantasy will become bowl game reality for Oregon State. 

OSU players invited to take part in Pac-12 Media Days the past two seasons under coach Gary Andersen talked openly about their goals of reaching a bowl game.  It didn't happen. Not even close. Instead, the Beavers went 2-10 in 2015 (zero wins in the Pac-12) in Andersen's first season after replacing Mike Riley, and then 4-8 last season (3-6 Pac-12). 

To be fair, the players' beliefs were largely based on competitiveness, hope, bravado and perhaps some innocent delusion. This time around, however, the Beavers truly have good reason to believe that the program could realistically return to a bowl game for the first time since winning the Hawaii Bowl in 2014. 

Junior running back Ryan Nall and senior linebacker Manase Hungalu expressed such sentiments during today's media session. For the first time in three years, such talk didn't sound like a misguided pipe dream.  That's because for the first time during the Andersen era, the Beavers might actually have both the physicality and mental toughness to get it done. 

"This is a part of a process," Hungalu said. "It's just a process that we're building upon. Coach A is doing a great job with that. And we all understand that in order for what we want, we just have to continue to keep working and continue to keep playing and the results will show for itself."

Oregon State will likely never be a place where high-end recruits flock. Nor will it ever have the resources that nearby Oregon and Washington possess. But that doesn't mean the Beavers can't win. It just means that they have to be more calculating and deliberate to get it done. 

Unheralded recruits must be developed through patience and great coaching. Both physically and mentally. Last year, Andersen said here that the Beavers had to become more physical after getting pushed around by opponents in 2014. 

The Beavers were certainly tougher last season, improving by about a touchdown in both points scored and points allowed, moving from 19 points scored per game in 2015 with 37 allowed to 26 and 30. . That allowed the Beavers to play in more close games.

"At the end of the day we played physically with every team in this league," Andersen said. "That is very, very important."

That progression continued this summer with 50 players, Andersen said, who can now squat 500 pounds or more. 

However, mentally the Beavers simply weren't ready to win enough of those games to become bowl eligible. 

OSU lost three games by seven points or less: 30-23 at Minnesota, 19-14 vs. Utah and 35-31 vs. Washington State. Three other losses came by 14 or less, meaning OSU was at least in those contests. 

Losing close contests stuck with Nall all offseason. Especially the Washington State game in which the Beavers led 24-6 at halftime only to see WSU scored 22 points in the third quarter and ultimately win, 35-31.

"Our execution," Nall said. "It comes down to that. Whether it's on offense or defense, make sure we do our assignment instead of doing too much If we do the little things. If we execute. We will have a chance to win every single game."

Hungalu agrees. 

"I go back to being consistent and disciplined," he said. "Those games slipped away from us from little mistakes. Mistakes that shouldn't have happened."

So, while the team focused last year on becoming stronger and tougher, this offseason they worked as much on their mental approach. 

Andersen spent part of the offseason going through different situations and scenarios from last season that went south to try and pinpoint areas of concern. 

Andersen said mistakes and silly penalties cost the team and must be cleaned up this season. That endeavor will include some simplification to improve coaching and teaching and overall team-wide communication. 

"I think that naturally happens in three years," Andersen said. "But now it needs to be automatic."

Could a dramatic turnaround be in store for the Beavers?

Why not? Colorado did it. Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre won a total of 10 games during his first three seasons before going 10-4 (8-1). Colorado hadn't reached a bowl game since 2007 before taking the Pac-12 by surprise to win the South and reach the conference title game where the Buffaloes lose to Washington. 

Nall said the Beavers hope to duplicate Colorado's sudden success.

"I definitely see ourselves doing that," Nall said. "I have confidence in our team. I trust the process with Coach A and our staff. I believe we're going to have a successful year."

For the first time in years, such talk shouldn't be dismissed. 

Beavers go old school in Civil War to beat the Ducks

Beavers go old school in Civil War to beat the Ducks

There were glory days in Corvallis so long ago, when the "Great Pumpkin," Dee Andros, was coaching Oregon State's football "Giant Killers."

Andros ran what they called a "full-house backfield" -- a throwback to the old basic T-formation, and he handed the ball to his fullback, time after time. Legends like Bill Enyart, Pete Pifer and Dave Schilling carried the ball as often as 50 times in a game as the physical Beavers pounded teams into submission.

But those hard-nosed fullbacks need to move over and make room for one more -- current Beaver Ryan Nall.

Nall, the sophomore out of Central Catholic, battered the Ducks for 155 yards and four touchdowns as the Beavers rushed for 310 yards.

Oregon State Coach Gary Andersen has made toughness a cornerstone of his program and in just his second season at OSU he saw evidence that it's paying off. The Beavers dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring the Ducks 13-0 to overcome a 10-point deficit.

And on the other side of the field, Oregon, a three-point favorite, saw its eight-game Civil War win streak come to an end on a day when it appeared it had the edge. When the Ducks jumped to a 24-14 lead in the third quarter it seemed they were on the way to a big win.

But they couldn't put the determined Beavers away.

Will that be it for Oregon Coach Mark Helfrich? I wouldn't be surprised, either way. This game exposed Oregon's soft defense and inconsistent offense, problems that have plagued the Ducks all season. With the game on the line, the underdog Beavers manhandled Oregon.

There will be plenty of time to talk about that. Right now, it's only fair to salute the Beavers for claiming a milestone win for Andersen in his effort to turn the program around.

Andros would be so proud.

Civil War Prediction: Herbert and Oregon's offense too much for OSU

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Civil War Prediction: Herbert and Oregon's offense too much for OSU

There's little reason to believe that Oregon's defense will slow down Oregon State's offense led by bruising running back Ryan Nall in Saturday's 120th Civil War at Reser Stadium. 

The Ducks are simply too battered and young on defense to do so despite the unit's strong showing during last week's 30-28 upset win at then-No. 11 Utah. 

Where Oregon should have the advantage in the game that kicks off at 1 p.m. is when the Ducks' balanced and potent offense, led by freshman quarterback Justin Herbert and re-energized junior running back Royce Freeman, is on the field against the Beavers' defense. 

OSU's defense has held its own mostly against one-dimensional teams, such as Utah (19-14 loss) and Stanford (26-15 loss). Teams with strong passing and rushing attacks have eaten the Beavers' defense alive. 

Oregon fits that mold. 

A case could be made that OSU's passing defense is solid. The Beavers rank fourth in the Pac-12 in passing defense (211 yards allowed per game) and have surrendered just 13 touchdown passes (fourth fewest in the conference). OSU on Oct. 8 did a number on California quarterback Davis Webb, holding him to 113 yards passing with zero touchdowns and one interception on 45 attempts (23 completions) during a 47-44 overtime win at Reser. 

But that could be viewed as more of a fluke buoyed by the fact that Cal rushed for 317 yards and four touchdowns on the Beavers. Other strong passing teams have feasted on OSU's defense. Washington State junior quarterback Luke Falk threw for 415 yards and five touchdowns against OSU. Washington sophomore Jake Browning passed for 291 and three touchdowns.  Colorado redshirt freshman Steven Montez racked up 293 yards and three touchdowns.

Doing to Herbert what OSU did to Web will require slowing down Freeman and the Ducks' rushing attack. Teams simply have not shut down Oregon's passing attack over the years when the running game is rolling beyond maybe limiting passing yards simply because UO leans on its running game.

The Ducks' rushing attack ignites the entire scheme because it sets the pace of play Oregon seeks to achieve while also creating enviable passing situations.

Nothing OSU has done this season indicates it will slow down UO's running game. OSU ranks 10th in the conference in rushing defense while UO leads the conference in rushing. 

Freeman needs 161 rushing yards to reach 1,000, and will likely get it. If UO simply gets 225 rushing yards, that will open the floodgates for Herbert and the Beavers will be toast. 

Herbert has had mediocre games against teams like No. 6 Washington, at No. 12 USC and home against Stanford. In those three games, Herbert passed for five touchdowns with three interceptions. However, those teams slowed down UO's running game nad happen to possess three of the five top ranked defenses in the conference.

Teams ranked below that threshold have been at Herbert's mercy. He lit up California, Arizona State and Utah for 13 touchdown passes with one interceptions. He threw for six touchdowns at Cal and he tied a program record with 489 yards passing against Arizona State. Last week against a solid Utah defense, Herbert had four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in the second half. 

All of that spell trouble for the Beavers. 

A quick look at OSU:

Oregon at Oregon State

When: 1 p.m., Reser Stadium, Corvallis. 

T.V.: Pac-12 Networks. 

Betting line: Oregon by 3.

Records: Oregon (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12), OSU (3-8, 2-6). 

Coaches: Oregon's Mark Helfrich (37-15); OSU's Gary Andersen (5-18 at OSU, 54-56 overall). 

Last week: Oregon won 30-28 at No. 21 Utah. Oregon State won 42-10 over Arizona.  

Beavers' impact players: Nall will certainly do damage to Oregon. The question is whether sophomore quarterback Marcus McMaryion can duplicate what he did during a 42-10 win over Arizona last week.

McMaryion delivered by far his best performance with 265 passing yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. In five prior outings McMaryion threw for four touchdowns with five interceptions.

The Ducks' defense is vulnerable against just about anything so it's reasonable to consider that McMaryion would have a strong game. If he does, that would place even more pressure on Oregon's offense to get into the 40s in order to win.

OSU's receivers haven't exactly a threatening bunch. Then again, mediocre quarterback play hasn't helped.

McMaryion had his monster game minus receivers Victor Bolden Jr. and Seth Collins.  Collins is reportedly still out while Bolden could return. He would bring an added boost and compliment junior Jordan Villamin, who had six receptions for 124 yards and a touchdown against Arizona. 

On defense, senior inside linebacker Caleb Saulo ranks third in the conference with 7.9 tackles per game while junior inside linebacker Manase Hungalu ranks tied for fourth with 7.4.  Sophomore outside linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu has 5 1/2 sacks and ranks tied for sixth in the conference with 11 tackles for loss. 

Fear factor (five-point scale): 4. On paper, Oregon has got this. 

But the Civil War rarely plays out as expected. The Ducks are young, have a weak defense and are playing on the road against a hungry Beavers team that must smell blood in the stream.

While real life Beavers are herbivores, the OSU version would like nothing more than to feast on these Ducks for the first time since 2007. 

OSU will play the Civil War as if it were a bowl game, so if the Ducks come unprepared, they will lose. If Oregon truly turned the corner as a team last week against Utah, it will roll. 

Prediction: Oregon 45, OSU 30. The Ducks will clear 500 yards of total offense and put way too much pressure on OSU to keep up. If Oregon State plays like it did against Cal, or McMaryion plays like he did against Arizona, the Beavers will be in position to steal this game. That said, the Ducks could be playing for their jobs of their coaching staff and are coming off of a huge showing at Utah. The team on display that day beats any team OSU has put on the field all season long. Smart money is on those Ducks showing up in Corvallis. 

Oregon's battered defense ripe for OSU's Ryan Nall

Oregon's battered defense ripe for OSU's Ryan Nall

Just when it appeared that Oregon's defense had made the shift from horrible to average the Ducks have been dealt yet another blow.

Sophomore defensive tackle Rex Manu has been lost for the season with a leg injury. It's another in a long list of problematic developments for a battered and young defensive line that actually played solid football during a 30-28 win at then-No. 11 Utah on Saturday. 

"Another gut punch inside there," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said of his battered group of defensive tackles that has already lost redshirt freshman Drayton Carlberg (leg) and junior Austin Maloata (dismissed from team)

Oregon's bad news is good news for Oregon State, the Ducks' next opponent in the 120th Civil War, which kicks off at 1 p.m., Saturday at Reser Stadium. 

The Beavers (3-8, 2-6 Pac-12) last week snapped a five-game losing streak with a 42-10 win over hapless Arizona (2-9, 0-8) thanks in part to the hard-charging performance of sophomore running back Ryan Nall operating behind a solid offensive line.

Nall, when healthy, is one of the best backs in the Pac-12.  The 6-foot-2, 234-pounder out of Portland's Central Catholic High School is averaging 6.9 yards per carry, and is coming off of a 124-yard performance against the Wildcats.

Oregon (4-7, 2-6) need only look at video from last year's Civil War to remind itself of how good Nall can be. He gouged the Ducks for 174 yards rushing and 54 receiving during a 52-42 UO victory. 

"He's a load," Helfrich said. "He's very difficult to tackle."

Helfrich said Oregon must be mindful of the variety of ways Oregon uses Nall, who gets the ball on misdirection plays, fly sweep, out of the backfield and on straight ahead running plays. 

OSU's creativity, Helfrich said, usually leads to Nall, who earlier this season went for 131 rushing yards against Washington State and for 221 on California, out in space against a linebacker or a defensive back forced to make an arm tackle.

"Him versus an arm is usually a bad matchup for the arm," Helfrich said. "We need to get multiple bodies to him."

Oregon did a solid job of doing just that against Utah's Joe Williams. He did rush for a healthy 149 yards but had a long of just 28, which for UO's porous defense is an accomplishment. Oregon ranks 11th in the Pac-12 against the run (240.7 yards per game) and has allowed the most rushing touchdowns in the conference (34). 

Helfrich said Oregon's defenders have been somewhat slow in adjusting to the 4-3 defense under new defensive coordinator Brady Hoke, but did commit the least amount of mental errors and missed tackles against the Utes then the group had all season.

Oregon defensive backs coach John Neal said he sees similarities between OSU's offense and Utah's. Beavers coach Gary Andersen worked under Utah coach Kyle Whittingham at Utah from 2004 through 2008. Both were assistants there prior to Whittingham becoming the head coach in 2004. 

Familiar offenses aside, Neal said the Ducks must play with the same intensity they displayed at Utah in order to defeat an OSU team hungry for its first Civil War victory since 2007.

"It will be interesting to see how hard we go out there and play because they are going to play hard," Neal said.

If Oregon fails to show up mentally and physically, Nall will run wild. Neal is a fan of OSU's engine, but doesn't want to see him grind the Ducks into the turf. 

"I love 34," Neal said. "I think he is one of the best players in or league. I don't think the kid has any weaknesses."

Could this year's Civil War belong to the Beavers?

Could this year's Civil War belong to the Beavers?

I wanted to think about this for a day before writing it, but after watching the Ducks and Beavers Saturday, I couldn't help but think that this is a year when Oregon State has its best opportunity in years to win the Civil War, which is scheduled for Nov. 26 in Corvallis.

Oregon State's effort against Washington State was most impressive. And what I truly appreciated was that it seemed the Beavers were in the right place at the right time all night. Those coaches in Corvallis are making the most of what they have -- which isn't a lot. There is still a shortage of healthy and talented players. And I remember what happened last season in Eugene, when the Beavers rallied from a 31-7 halftime deficit to pull within 45-42 midway through the fourth quarter.

It was if the Ducks were rehearsing their upcoming, second-half bowl game collapse.

OSU got back in the game on the back of Ryan Nall, who rushed for 174 yards on 19 carries. And if he's healthy this season, I could see the same thing happening. The Ducks don't exactly stop the run.

I congratulate Oregon on its first conference win Saturday. Justin Herbert was terrific against Arizona State. And yes, I believe he'd probably have a very big day against the Beavers.

But by the time these teams play, both will be pretty banged up. There's no telling who will play and who won't and I just expect the Beavers, with the game at home, to be ready. Gary Andersen is quietly building something there and a win in this game would be huge for his program. The Ducks will come into the game off a killer schedule at season's end -- facing USC, Stanford and Utah coming into the Civil War.

If Oregon doesn't win one of those three games, I'm not sure what sort of mindset the Ducks will be in for a game that shapes up to be a very important day for their coaching staff. The motivation could be much bigger on the OSU sideline than Oregon's.

Yes, the game is still about a month away, but in a college-football season when there hasn't been much to be excited about in this state, the Civil War could be a dandy of a game.

Oregon State is going to ambush Minnesota Thursday night

Oregon State is going to ambush Minnesota Thursday night

It's very difficult to predict the outcome of season-opening games in football. So much happens in the off-season, when changes are made to the coaching staff that often leads to changes in the style of play, new players are added and players mature.

Things change.

That's part of the reason, I suppose, that I feel strongly that Oregon State is going to come out of Thursday night's opener at Minnesota with a victory, in spite of the fact that just about all the oddsmakers have them as 13-point underdogs.

The Beavers have new coordinators on both sides of the ball, a lot of new players and a new quarterback. How in the world can anybody know exactly what to expect from this Oregon State team? But there's one thing OSU must do: protect the new quarterback.

Darell Garretson had 11 career starts at quarterback for Utah State and the Beavers believe he's just the right guy to operate their offense. I hope that's true but they better take good care of him. Quarterbacks have never been more important than they are in today's football and in this case, with no proven depth at the position, the Beavers must treat Garretson like a precious commodity.

The last time I saw the Beavers I liked what I saw. They battled Oregon in the Civil War behind 174 yards on 19 carries from Ryan Nall. I liked Nall from the moment I saw him at Central Catholic -- he's a battering ram with stamina. I'm just happy he found his way to the running back position after thoughts about linebacker, tight end and H-back.

I'm saying right now OSU will be ready for opening night. Gary Andersen knows what he's doing. This isn't going to be a great season for the Beavers -- their schedule is too difficult. But I think they've got that thing in Corvallis headed in the right direction.

And that direction is to protect Garretson, get Nall a lot of carries, spread the ball out to an impressive group of receivers and play defense with ferocity. And oh yes, they aren't playing Michigan, they're playing Minnesota.