Dwight Jaynes

Opportunity lost! How the Beavers gave away a game to Stanford

Opportunity lost! How the Beavers gave away a game to Stanford

CORVALLIS – For a team hungry for a home Pac-12 win, on a night when one of its greatest coaches was on hand and several of its outstanding players from the past were there, the Oregon State Beavers missed a golden opportunity to pull off an upset of Stanford.

So many mistakes. All over the place. And it cost OSU a 31-28 loss in which it out-rushed and out-passed the Cardinal.

Mistakes? Well, one of the biggest ones came in the fourth quarter with Oregon State in the midst of a comeback from three touchdowns behind. The Cardinal had to settle for a 46-yard field goal, which Jet Toner made. That would have worked out OK for the Beavers as the game turned out. But OSU was called for a personal foul on the kick, as Hamilcar Rashed Jr. was flagged for jumping on the back of a player in an effort to block the kick.

Stanford elected to take the three points off the board, accept the penalty and then scored two plays later. Three points subtracted, seven points added and a net gain of four points. And, of course, the Cardinal won by three.

But there were plenty of other miscues, too.

The Beavers had seven penalties for 56 yards and it seemed as if they all came at crucial times. They also allowed Stanford to convert several third-and-long attempts, including three on the same drive in the first half.

“Details,” Coach Jonathan Smith said afterwards. “We have to take care of those things.”

If you would have told Smith prior to the game that his team would roll up 64 more net rushing yards than Stanford and outpass them 337-253, I’m pretty sure he’d have believed he was going to win the game.

And the Beavers could have.

Jake Luton hit 27 of his 39 passes for 337 yards and a touchdown and Isaiah Hodgins caught 10 of them for 162 yards, including a beauty in the end zone.

The Beavers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the last one gave them a 28-28 tie with 1:55 to play and Stanford with no timeouts left.

But what’s the worst possible thing that can happen in that situation?

Correct, a long kickoff return. Connor Wedington returned the ensuing kick 43 yards to midfield and Stanford was in business.

Davis Mills, who had a solid game at quarterback in place of injured starter K.J. Costello, completed an 18-yard pass on first down and then scrambled for 16 yards one play later to set up Toner’s game-winning field goal – a 39-yarder with just a second showing on the clock.

OSU suffered through a miserable first half that saw them looking up at a 21-0 deficit.

“It’s closer but not where we want to be,” Smith said of the final verdict. “It wasn’t enough. Obviously, very disappointing.”

Former Beaver head coach Dennis Erickson, whom Oregon State honored during the game for his induction into the college football Hall of Fame, did his share of turning programs around in his long career, and he is convinced it's going to happen at Oregon State.

“They hired the right guy,” Erickson said before the game. “But people have to understand it takes time.”

Trail Blazers are all-in on Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons

Trail Blazers are all-in on Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons

The news that the Trail Blazers have picked up the contract options of Zach Collins and Anfernee Simons should come as no surprise. It’s been obvious through the entire summer that the team is all-in on those two young players moving forward.

Collins goes into training camp next week as the odds-on favorite to be the team’s starting power forward. Simons, in just his second season, is going to be counted on as the third guard, behind Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Simons will be expected to provide scoring off the bench in a role Seth Curry played last season.

Both players are on rookie contracts. In his fourth season, Collins is scheduled to earn $5,406,255 next year. Simons will earn $2,252,040 for his third-year option next year.

The Trail Blazers have almost always picked up these options on players, preferring to hold on to assets that are moderately priced by league standards.

Portland sees both players as franchise cornerstones and the Blazers have gone all-in for this year, which the team sees an opportunity season. The team got to the Western Conference finals last season and believes the roster, improved this summer with trades and free-agent signings, gives them an opportunity to go even farther in a conference that appears wide open for the first time in several years.

How the NBA explains away all of those missed traveling calls

How the NBA explains away all of those missed traveling calls

The NBA has decided it is going to attempt to clarify its traveling rules very soon but the rules haven’t changed – the league is just going to attempt to further explain a rule that seems to be different than what’s called a travel at all other levels of basketball.

At the heart of the matter is what the league calls “the gather” – the time when a player finishes his dribble and begins a drive to the basket. The NBA allows players to gather the ball before its referees begin to count that player’s steps. The result is a situation like this, which appears to everybody who has ever played the game as a flagrant travel – but isn’t by NBA rule.

The league’s long and lean players are taking advantage of this rule, of course. They move so fast that very often humans can’t really ascertain in real time when the “gather” ends and the dribble should begin. Combine that with the league’s desire to keep its game moving and not clutter it with too many whistles and you get some uncalled travels. And then, of course, there’s the James Harden step-back move, which has become controversial because he certainly appears to be traveling before shooting.

My personal definition has always had to do with keeping track of a player’s pivot foot. As you shoot or pass, you’re allowed to lift that foot and as long as it doesn’t hit the ground before you unload the ball. That’s not traveling, at any level of basketball. It’s why young players are taught to jump stop – land on both feet at the same time – so that they can use either foot as their pivot foot.

Beyond that -- in spite of the NBA’s explanation of its “gather” – it’s still a mystery to me in the NBA. It’s so difficult to find that “gather” that I’ve given up. And I’m sticking to the opinion I’ve had since 2009, when I first heard about this gather thing – it’s just something the NBA made up to justify some of its players taking an extra step.

Oregon Duck defense suffocates Stanford but about that offense...

Oregon Duck defense suffocates Stanford but about that offense...

STANFORD, Calif. – A win is a win – at least that’s what most Ducks will think coming away from Oregon’s 21-6 triumph over Stanford late Saturday afternoon. I mean, the Cardinal have been a problem over the last several seasons, including last year when they stole a victory at Autzen.

Except in college football, that’s really not true – a win isn’t always enough. If you want a piece of postseason play or merely a high ranking in the polls at the end of the year, the whole season turns into a beauty contest.

You have to look good. Better than good, in fact. You better look real good – especially when on national television – if you want to pick up votes in the poll, which is critical to having any thought of a playoff berth.

And the Ducks, who managed only three touchdowns against a team that had allowed a combined 90 points in its two previous games, struggled on offense.

Not that the UO defense didn’t continue its stellar run. The Cardinal managed only 234 yards of total offense and was dominated by Oregon’s quick and hard-hitting defense, which hasn’t allowed a touchdown since the opening game of the season.

Oregon chose to run the ball 30 times in this game and netted just 61 yards. And it allowed four sacks. That doesn’t sound like an offensive line that the media touted as one of the best in the country prior to the season.

And while the running game wasn’t consistent all day, Oregon stayed conservative on offense. Quarterback Justin Herbert, with NFL scouts populating the press box, threw the ball only 24 times and completed 19 of them for 259 yards and all three touchdowns.

Just once, I’d like to see the Ducks open up the passing game and give this man about 45 attempts. And if that happened, you can bet the running game would come alive, too.

And OK, I had to ask Coach Mario Cristobal, why didn’t you throw the ball more often, given you seem to have one of the best quarterbacks in the country?

“We’d like to get as many points on the board as possible, so whatever is called – sometimes these are throw/run options,” Cristobal said. “The look, the leverage, the number of the box count, will determine where the ball goes. If I could guarantee 80 points by throwing the ball more, I certainly would. But we’re trying to move the ball, score points and get effective offense.”

OK.

The Ducks are still running a lot of what appears to be a read-option at times but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of reading there, as the ball was handed off every time Saturday by Herbert, rather than pulling it out and taking yards himself.

He admitted after the game that “I probably should have pulled it out a few times,” but he’s pretty comfortable with the backs carrying the ball. I get that – and I understand that the last thing the Ducks need is for Herbert to get hurt.

But if that’s the case, just forget the option – the Cardinal wasn’t honoring Herbert as the possible ball carrier very often, anyway – and just get another back behind the quarterback and go to more of a power running game.

Now don’t get me wrong – the Ducks dominated this game and seemed to have it locked up when they led 14-3 at the half. Not only was their defense suffocating Stanford but their punter, Blake Maimone, was spectacular. He booted the ball six times for an average of 45.7 yards. Those punts kept Stanford backed up in the shadow of its own end zone most of the day.

This one was not close – but it wasn’t impressive, either.

Oregon has a bye next week before squaring off with undefeated California.

Instant Analysis: Three quick takeaways from Oregon's win over Stanford

Instant Analysis: Three quick takeaways from Oregon's win over Stanford

The No. 16 Oregon Ducks opened conference play with a win over the Stanford Saturday night. It's the first time since 2014 they've accomplished such a feat. In the process, Justin Herbert eclipsed the 8,000 passing yard mark for his collegiate career and remains the most steady QB in the nation, having completed 174 passes without an interception.

BOX SCORE: Oregon 21, Stanford 6 

Here are three quick takeaways:

  1. Ducks very conservative in this game-- It wasn't the traditional fast-paced, barn burner of a game Oregon fans have grown so accustomed to. 
  2. With a quarterback as good as Justin Herbert, might be a good idea to throw the ball more-- Herbert had an efficient night, connecting on 19 of his 24 passes for 259 yards. Herbert led Oregon down the field for a touchdown in the first half with precision: 2 plays, 55 yards and 35 seconds ticked off the clock. The future first round pick finished his night 19/24 for 259 yards with 3 TDs.
  3. Cardinal were not honoring Herbert on the option... might want to have him keep the ball once in a while if you're going to continue to be an option team. Or just junk the option and hand it off. -- Herbert lost 22 yards on 5 recorded attempts. CJ Verdell led Oregon's rather quiet rushing attack with 82 yards on 24 attempts. 


Additional Note: Stanford running back Cameron Scarlett, graduate of Central Catholic High School in Portland, OR finished the game with 97 yards rushing on 19 carries.

Stay tuned for more from the locker room.

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* Peter Socotch also contributed to this report

My all-time favorite home run -- and the endangered stadium where I hit it

My all-time favorite home run -- and the endangered stadium where I hit it

You talk about pressure on youngsters in sports? Well, my first real encounter with it came when I was 12 years old.

I was a catcher in the Sellwood-Moreland Little League, which was a pretty good training ground for young baseball players. Good coaches, nice uniforms for the time and our team couldn’t have asked for a better sponsor than the now-long-gone Rettman’s Market.

The only downside to the league was we played our games in Sellwood Park – a nice diamond but it had no outfield fence. You wanted a home run in our league, you had to run it out. And when the other team played its outfielders deep, that was a difficult task.

And that’s what made it so special, once a season, when our whole league got to play in Alpenrose Stadium in Southwest Portland. It was a showplace of a ballpark for kids -- dugouts, press box, PA system, concession stand, plenty of seating for spectators and... It had a fence! You could hit a home run and actually do the home-run trot around the bases.

To a kid in those days, it was like playing in Yankee Stadium.

But when you were a pretty good player, that day came with pressure. I mean, if you wanted a real home run you had to do it there, at Alpenrose, on that one day in the summer.

So the pressure was on that Saturday at Alpenrose when we played our game. As a 12-year-old in Little League, this was my last shot at that fence. One game. And several of my friends had already cleared that fence in earlier games.

Man, everybody knew what was at stake. You think it wasn’t a big deal? Well, one of my friends – whose father was his coach – was actually traded to another team DURING that day, so that he’d get another game at Alpenrose to try to hit one out. He didn’t make it, by the way.

But I did.

I clubbed one over the center-field fence and don’t think I felt my feet hit the ground all the way around the bases. So many decades later, it’s still a pleasant thought. My father, determined to capture the moment on his 8mm camera that day, was so intent on my plate appearance that he forgot to pick up the camera until the ball was on its way out of the little park.

He ended up with a shot of two outfielders watching an unseen ball carry over the wall and me finishing a trip around the bases. No matter, my memory is stronger than that long-ago film.

That dairy was amazing in those days. Ballfields everywhere – softball and baseball – with a quarter-midget race track, a velodrome, picnic area and all sorts of other things that made it delightful, year-round. Later at Alpenrose, my son attended, then worked at, the long-running Metro Baseball School, run by Jack Dunn and Roy Love – a camp that helped thousands of young kids learn the basics of the game. Later, the Little League softball World Series set up shop at Alpenrose and found it a perfect home.

And I guess that’s why my heart hurt when I heard about the family controversy that is putting the dairy and its facilities at risk. On Wednesday of this week, a judge will decide whether to grant in injunction to family members who want to stop a possible sale of the dairy. It’s the heart of a family feud that has torn apart the Cadonau family, the owners of the business and the property it sits on.

I understand the situation but I hate it when money divides a family. Yes, that land is worth millions, but so are the memories and the future ones yet to be made at Alpenrose. I would hope that an injunction and cooling off period would provide time to find a solution that would please all concerned. Maybe even enough time for enough money to be raised to save the kids' part of it, as it stands now.

That place is an important part of Portland – in the past, the present and, hopefully, the future.

And I confess, I’d like to see a lot more boys and girls get a chance to feel what I felt on that trip around the bases, so many years ago in what has always been a very special ballpark.

Welcome to big-time college football -- and Guaranteed Slaughter Nights

Welcome to big-time college football -- and Guaranteed Slaughter Nights

Well, how do you think Oregon and Oregon State looked Saturday?

I’m asking you because I couldn’t tell. Mismatches don’t reveal much about a team and college football is in such a terrible rut when it comes to these kinds of games that I’m shocked there isn’t some sort of fan revolt. Oh, wait – fans LOVE these games when they’re on the winning side. No matter who they’re beating, they seem to take great pleasure in those 40, 50, even 60-point routs.

Anyway, I have no real idea who is good in college football – other than Clemson and Alabama, simply because they are who they are.

Do you realize that the top nine teams in the country yesterday outscored their opponents 457-118? That’s an average score of 51-13, by the way. And those games probably took in millions of dollars, not even including the TV treasure trove. Fans don’t like competitive games as much as they like blowouts in their favor. And the schedule for a lot of these teams this time of the year includes a few Guaranteed Slaughter Nights.

I guess there are a few things you can watch for in such games. They can be fun. But making judgments about a team’s worth? Hardly possible.

Still, here are my thoughts after a long day of dial-switching and DVR-draining while watching college football:

  • When will the winning coach take his starters out? For the Ducks, quarterback Justin Herbert played virtually the entire game. For the Beavers, Jake Luton was out after one series in the second half. Of course, Oregon State doesn’t have to worry about impressing voters every week. And really, the Duck win wasn’t as impressive as most people expected. UO Coach Mario Cristobal wanted to get his starters more snaps, he said. He should have scheduled Central Florida.
  • FBS teams shouldn’t be allowed to play FCS teams. Period. And no, I have no idea where those smaller-division athletic departments are going to find the money to fund their programs without these games. Aren’t there enough lousy teams for the Pac-12 to beat without scheduling teams from the Big Sky? Well, from what I’ve seen from the Pac-12 lately, maybe not. And yet the schools complain about having to play nine conference games! They ought to play 12 of them if they want to give all their schools a chance to win a few games.
  • I think Oregon is good. Actually, I think Herbert is REAL good. He’s the heart of that offense and makes it all go. The defense looks pretty good, and in the Pac-12, it doesn’t seem as if it’s going to get a real test against any offensive juggernauts. Even Washington State isn’t humming the way it has in the past. Oregon just may be the best of the lot – but I’d get Herbert encased in bubble wrap when my lead is more than 30 in the fourth quarter.
  • The Beavers did what they were supposed to do against a school named Poly Saturday. But they have a way to go. A long way, actually, But I think patience is required, just as it is at UCLA, where Chip Kelly inherited a dumpster fire. It takes years to turn these programs around. Give them time. Perhaps a lot of time. OSU was a mess when Jonathan Smith arrived.
  • Portland State stayed with Boise State longer than I thought possible on that horrid blue turf. By the way, until somebody invents grass the color of Boise State’s turf, they shouldn’t be allowed to use that stuff for games.
  • I heard all the hype about the Oregon offensive line prior to the start of the season but I don’t think the running game is where the Ducks want it to be. However, if Herbert stays as accurate as he has been, the runs will be there. Pac-12 defenses are going to have to respect the UO passing game to a degree that should make running easier.
  • Up next for Oregon and Oregon State? Stanford. Ironically, both teams will open conference play with the Cardinal. And if there was ever a season to do that, this might be it. Stanford gave up 45 points to USC and another 45 to Central Florida in the last two weeks.

Why is Gregg Popovich escaping criticism for Team USA failure?

Why is Gregg Popovich escaping criticism for Team USA failure?

The U.S. men’s basketball team dropped its second straight game at the FIBA championships and the excuses are flying.

Of course, the No. 1 alibi is that we didn’t send our best players. And that’s true. The best of the NBA would rather wait for a chance at an Olympic medal than waste a summer chasing a championship that didn’t even find its way to network television in this country. And I don’t blame them.

But it’s not as if we didn’t send very good players to China for this tournament. Only Mason Plumlee on this roster was not an NBA starter and there was a projected NBA payroll of $265 million for these guys.

Sorry, but no other team over there could feature talent of that magnitude.

So let me take a different path of trying to explain this problem. For one thing, doesn’t it seem that very few of our international teams have enough outside shooting to take advantage of the international three-point line? For years, other countries have sagged off in some form of zone defense as our teams struggled to make outside shots and couldn’t execute zone-breakers that some high-school teams can handle.

Yes, I think the selection process has been flawed for a long time, still enamored with spectacular dunkers and drivers, rather than pure shooters – even if they aren’t among the league’s high-priced endorsers.

And one other thing, how does Gregg Popovich escape unscathed? Why is there never any criticism of how he handled the team’s preparation or roster? Apparently Pop the Great is above all that.

He certainly couldn’t find many answers with this team, other than using smaller and smaller lineups. I don’t think Team USA was prepared for the situation. And that usually falls on the coach, doesn’t it?

From the Ivory Coast to PSU, this Romeo is turning heads on the football field

From the Ivory Coast to PSU, this Romeo is turning heads on the football field

Just getting to Portland State University was a long journey for Romeo Gunt.

So when you see that the 5-10, 190-pounder, who appears to have muscles on his muscles, made 15 tackles last weekend in the Vikings’ one-touchdown defeat in front of about 61,000 people at Arkansas, you figure it wasn’t the most difficult task he’s accomplished in life. That the reigning Big Sky Conference defensive player of the week found his way to Portland in the first place is nothing short of amazing.

And the whole thing about even playing football is a bit of a surprise, too.

You see, Gunt’s mother was a professional soccer player and he spent the first seven years of his life in Ivory Coast, a country on the south coast of west Africa, where he spoke only French.

But his family moved to Philadelphia and he found football because his mother enjoyed watching the Eagles play on television. He played his high school ball at a charter school and didn’t get a lot of exposure, so when he was looking for a place to play in college, he was advised to find a junior college – where more people could see him in action. He ended up at Los Angeles Valley JC, where he made the dean’s list and second-team all-conference.

After junior college, he was recruited by Portland State and fell in love with the city and coaching staff.

The rest has been history. Installed as the team’s rover back, where Coach Bruce Barnum gives Gunt the freedom to use his instinct for the ball, he was the team’s third-leading tackler last season and, by the way, was an academic all-league selection.

There are still aspirations of playing pro football after that, but he’s working toward a degree in sociology.

He was a very enjoyable interview and I think you will find the accompanying video entertaining.

Please stop trying to tell me college athletes play for free!

Please stop trying to tell me college athletes play for free!

I listen to more sportstalk radio than I used to, because I know – and like -- a lot of the people behind the mic at all the stations.

But if there’s one thing I could tell them that frustrates me the most when it comes out of their mouths is the assertion that college athletes “play for free.” Or they “don’t get paid.”

I’m wondering how many of these hosts have sent their children to college these days. And more to the point, I also believe that when people say those kinds of things, they seriously underestimate the value of a college education.

Guys, do you have any idea what it costs these days to attend college, especially as an out-of-state student? Do you know what it’s like to graduate with a $100,000 worth of loans to pay off?

At the University of Oregon, for example, if you aren’t an in-state resident – and most of our state’s scholarship athletes aren’t – you would be paying $35,367 a year for the right to sit in a classroom in Eugene. And oh yes, scholarship athletes now receive “cost of attendance” stipends, too. At UO, that amounts to almost $15,000 a year.

So we’re talking about getting about 50 grand a year for playing a sport!

In my world, that’s a lot of money. Now you can say that those people on scholarship are attending college only to play their sport and don’t care about the diploma, but I would counter that those are the ones who will probably benefit the most from college. Whether they take advantage of the opportunity is up to them. And if you want to take that position, please stop calling those people SCHOLAR-ATHLETES.

But they aren’t playing for nothing (and I’m not even talking about all the perks of pre-registration, training table, luxurious study and workout facilities and whatever they can grab from a rich alum).

They are playing for something that has as much value as they put into it.