The Beavers should have opened the season at home vs. Hicktown State

The Beavers should have opened the season at home vs. Hicktown State

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this but a few things have to be said after Oregon State's humiliating 58-27 defeat at Colorado State Saturday afternoon:

  • I thought the Beavers were past this sort of thing. In Gary Andersen's third season, I expected Oregon State to have reached a level of toughness that would have prohibited such a disastrous loss. Andersen himself called it "embarrassing."
  • The Beavers were outscored 34-7 in the second half but worse, they were manhandled -- pushed all over the field. That should not happen to a Pac-12 team playing a Mountain West team. Losing is one thing -- being bullied is quite another.
  • Andersen fell on his sword, as coaches so often do. "We can all call it what we want," he said. "Yeah, it was a close game at the half, turnovers, blah blah blah. … when you have a team do what they did to us … we couldn't answer the bell in the second half. I'm not saying it's anybody else's fault but mine. I'll put it right on me."
  • The Beavers got punched in the mouth and didn't respond. That's not good.
  • Oregon State comes home to play host to Portland State in its next game as the Vikings, who were solid in a 20-6 loss at BYU Saturday, continue their season-opening, million-dollar march to finance their program with games out of their weight class. But OSU better be careful -- the Vikings won't give up in the second half. They won't quit. And after watching both teams Saturday, I had to wonder if Portland State is the more physical -- and more disciplined -- of the two teams.
  • I cannot imagine a worse way for the Beavers to open the season. And I can't really understand why the game was scheduled in the first place. Season-openers are for home games against Hicktown State,  not teams on the rise playing inaugural games in new stadiums.
  • I suspect the Beavers will get it together this week. But I don't expect much of a season from them. The schedule now says a sub-.500 season and no bowl trip. Oh well.


Oregon State is bringing back Retro Benny

Oregon State Athletics

Oregon State is bringing back Retro Benny

Oregon State Athletics is excited to announce the return of an iconic mark that is familiar to generations of fans, as Retro Benny arrives this fall.
The Retro Benny makes an official return Homecoming weekend Oct. 20 when the OSU football team will wear a specially designed Nike uniform when it hosts the California Golden Bears at Reser Stadium. In addition, Retro Benny will appear on the team's helmets for only the second time in history; initially was part of the 1973 team's helmets under the leadership of OSU Hall of Fame coach, the late Dee Andros.

"Retro Benny is a cherished emotional connection by generations of Beaver Nation and our student-athletes, coaches and staff are excited to represent the rich history of this university on a national stage," OSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes said. "The reintroduction of Retro Benny also aligns with our strategic plan in creating brand awareness and fan engagement opportunities, and supports the OSU 150 celebration."
Benny Beaver (Retro Benny) was an official active mark of OSU's intercollegiate sports teams from 1951-98.
A near life-sized wooden chainsaw sculpture of Retro Benny will debut  Friday at the campus OSU Beaver Store, where fans will have the opportunity to purchase merchandise that will be on sale for the first time. Merchandise will also be available online at the official Oregon State Athletics Shop.
The Oregon 3D Art and Chainsaw Sculpture created Retro Benny will make its way to Parker Plaza outside of Reser Stadium during the season and at other venues throughout the course of the year.

In addition to Homecoming on Oct. 20, OSU Athletics will induct the 15th class into its Hall of Fame that weekend. Inductees include former football player Earnel Durdan, standout women's basketball player Felicia Ragland, longtime administrator Sylvia Moore, the 1970 and '71 women's volleyball teams, and the 2006 and '07 national championship baseball teams.
Multiple ticket plans are now available for the six-game home football schedule that includes Oregon, USC, California, Washington State, Arizona and Southern Utah. For information on the benefits of being a season ticket holder or renewal incentives please access or call 541-737-2050.

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Oregon State Athletics strives to Build Excellent Authentic Visionary Student-Athletes (Go BEAVS).

Chicago Bears RB Ryan Nall leads all rushers in preseason game

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Chicago Bears RB Ryan Nall leads all rushers in preseason game

Chicago Bears running back Ryan Nall, out of Oregon State, lead all rushers with 95 yards on nine carries Thursday night during a 30-27 preseason loss at Cincinnati

Nall's long run covered 69 yards in the third quarter. Nall, an undrafted rookie free agent, broke loose along the right sideline and appeared to be gone for a touchdown before he was run down from behind by a Bengals' defensive back and dragged down at the Cincinnati 13-yard line. 

Nall also caught one pass for nine yards. 

Chicago's top three running backs, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham, did not play. Nall has virtually no chance to crack the top three on Chicago's depth chart, but he could make the team's practice squad should he perform well on special teams. 

Nall carried the ball seven times for 13 yards during a loss to Baltimore last week. 

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.25 - Jacquizz Rodgers

31 Greatest NCAAF Players in PNW history: No.25 - Jacquizz Rodgers

The Beavers ventured to Texas to find James Rodgers, and not only did they find him, they found his brother Jacquizz. The younger of the Rodgers brothers, Jacquizz was just a three-star prospect coming out of high school, but he became one of the greatest running backs in Oregon State history.

Rodgers rushed for 1,253 yards his first season, setting a Pac-10 record for yards rushing by a freshman and was named Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year. By the time he left Corvallis Rodgers had amassed 3,877 yards on the ground and scored 46 rushing touchdowns. He is 14th All-Time on the Pac-12 career-rushing list and trails only Ken Simonton (5,082) in the Oregon State record books.

Rodgers was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft, and currently plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For his NFL career Rodgers has rushed for 1,961 yards and six touchdowns.

Former Oregon State RB Ryan Nall makes NFL debut with Bears

USA Today

Former Oregon State RB Ryan Nall makes NFL debut with Bears

Former Oregon State running back Ryan Nall made his NFL debut Thursday night with the Chicago Bears during the Hall of Fame preseason game against Baltimore in Canton, Ohio.

Nall carried the ball seven times for 13 yards with a long of four yards. He also caught one pass for five yards (he was targeted three times) and had one tackle on special teams. Chicago lost 17-16. 

Nall, signed by Chicago as an undrafted rookie free agent following the NFL Draft, is a long shot to make the Bears roster. 

He entered the game on offense in the third quarter and during one drive carried the ball five times with the final carry coming on fourth down with one yard needed to gain a first down. Nall was stopped for a one-yard loss at the Baltimore 28. One of Nall's carries on the drive was negated because of a holding penalty.

On the Bears' next drive, Nall carried the ball once for three yards and then later made a tackle following a Bears' fumble. 

2018 could be another rough season for the Beavers

2018 could be another rough season for the Beavers

The year was 2013. Mike Riley led the Beavers to a 7-6 record, their second consecutive winning season, and victory over Boise State in the Hawaii Bowl. Things looked to be turning around in Corvallis, but then the floor fell out from under Beaver Nation.

Since that Hawaii Bowl victory, the Beavers have yet to have a winning season, are on their fourth head coach, and have gone a combined 12-36 -  the third most losses and fifth-worst winning percentage of any Division I team over that span.

For a chance at a brighter future, Oregon State decided to lean on its past.  Enter first-year head coach Jonathan Smith.

Smith was the quarterback under center in 2000 when the Beavers went 11-1, throttled Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, and finished the season ranked fourth in the nation. A return to prominence will be a tough task, but if anyone knows how to win in Corvallis it’s Smith.

But the task could be harder than expected, and Beavers fans could be in for another rough reason to start the Smith era. To say the cupboard is bare is an understatement. The Beavers are full of youth, and the veterans they do have are largely inexperienced. Just look at the senior class - The Beavers have 16 seniors on the roster and they have combined for 116 career starts. That’s an average of just 1.8 starts per season for each player. The Beavers also have 68 underclassmen, many of whom will be called upon to

make a significant impact this season. Even their coach is young. At just 39 years old Smith is the 14th youngest coach in Division I.

All this could add up to a rough season for the Beavers

Key Losses:  The Beavers lost a ton of talent on both sides of the ball this offseason. Star running back Ryan Nall and star linebacker Manase Hungalu were both lost to the NFL. Jordan Villamin, Darell Garretson, Xavier Hawkins, and Brandon Arnold all graduated, and Thomas Tyner chose not to pursue another year of eligibility.

Those losses were expected. The two that weren’t expected were the departures of Bright Ugwoegbu and Xavier Crawford. Ugwoegbu made 11 starts and had 55 tackles in 2017, but was suspended prior to spring practice and left the program shortly thereafter. As for Crawford, he was set to make a huge impact this season but chose to transfer to Central Michigan. At Central Michigan, Crawford will be reunited with former DB coach, and OSU’s interim coach from last season, Cory Hall.

Players to watch on offense:

- QB Jake Luton:

By all accounts, the starting quarterback job is Luton’s to lose. Luton transferred to Oregon State last offseason and was named the starting quarterback, but he played in just four games before a horrific spine injury sidelined him for the season. Now healthy, Luton looks to give Oregon State a true passing threat under center. The Beavers have struggled at quarterback ever since Sean Mannion left, and Luton hopes to change that. Last season Luton threw for 853 yards and four touchdowns while completing 62% of his passes. 

- WR Timmy Hernandez:

Hernandez had a solid year for the Beavers, ending the season as the team’s second leading receiver. With the departure of wide receivers Seth Collins, Jordan Villamin, and Xavier Hawkins, Hernandez looks to see a significant increase in targets. Hernandez caught just 30 passes last season, but it was on an offense that leaned run-first. Hernandez is a sure-handed receiver that could have a breakout season in 2018.

- TE Noah Togiai:

Togiai was the Beavers leading receiver in 2017 and earned All-Pac-12 Second Team honors. Togiai caught 34 passes for 461 yards last season, but only managed to find the end zone twice. At 6’6”, 241lbs, Togiai needs to use his size advantage to become a true red zone threat in 2018. If Luton remains healthy Togiai should once again have a stellar year for Oregon State

- RB Artavis Pierce:

With Ryan Nall moving on to the NFL, Artavis Pierce slides into the starting running back slot. Pierce played in all 12 games last season, starting two of them, and was the team’s second leading rusher at season’s end. Pierce rushed for 323 yards in 2017 but shared carries with Nall and Thomas Tyner all season. Heading into 2018 Pierce will be looked at to be the team’s workhorse. Oregon State currently has seven running backs on roster and Pierce is the only upperclassman. That experience will make him the unquestioned leader of the running back stable.

- OL Blake Brandel:

Brandel is perhaps the most seasoned vet on the roster, having played in and started all 24 games he has played in the past two seasons. His streak of 24 consecutive starts is currently the longest streak on the team. Brandel will be looked upon to lead the veteran laden offensive line, and his ability to get that unit performing to its fullest potential could be the difference between another losing season or a bowl game appearance.

Players to watch on defense:

- LB Jonathan Willis:

Willis has had a solid career with the Beavers, recording 161 tackles and 10.5 sacks over his three seasons in Corvallis. Last season Willis started all 12 games and had the best season of his career. This season the Beavers don't need him to be a solid part of the linebacking corps; they will need him to be the leader of it.

- LB Kee Whetzel:

Setting up shop in the defensive backfield with Willis will be sophomore Kee Whetzel. Whetzel played in all 12 games his freshman season, recording 26 tackles and two sacks. With the departure of Manase Hungalu and Bright Ugwoegbu, Whetzel will see a big increase in snaps and responsibilities. If you are looking for a star to breakout on defense, you should be looking for the player wearing No.7.

- DT Elu Aydon:

Aydon had a solid season in 2016 but didn't show much improvement in 2017. He and Kalani Vakameilalo are the only defensive tackles on the roster that made a significant impact last season, and Aydon will have to step up this season. At 6’3”, 378lbs, there are not a lot of offensive linemen that can stop Aydon. If his motor catches up to his size, Aydon could be unstoppable

- CB Dwayne Williams:

The Beavers have a ton of youth at corner, and if they don't want to get burned through the air they will need Williams to step up in a big way. Things didn’t seem so dire when the Beavers had him and Xavier Crawford to lean on, but the transfer of Crawford has left Williams alone on an island. Hopefully, he can turn that into “Williams Island” à la “Revis Island” in the NFL, or “Nelson Island” just a few seasons ago in Corvallis.

-S  Jalen Moore:

Of all the defensive backs, none have more experience or pressure heading into the season than Jalen Moore. Moore played in all 12 games last season, starting 10 of them, ending the season second on the team with 75 tackles. While his tackles numbers are amazing, Moore has just one interception in 18 career games. If he can improve on his coverage, you could be looking at an All-Conference caliber player.


The Beavers will be challenged at every turn but should be able to improve on last season’s 1-11 campaign. The Beavers start the season on the road at Ohio State and run a gauntlet at the end of the season when they play USC, Stanford, Washington, and Oregon in consecutive weeks. But sandwiched in between those tough contests are some winnable games – Home vs. Southern Utah and at Nevada are games Oregon State can win. They will also face Arizona and Arizona State, two teams also breaking in new head coaches. This season will test coach Smith and his crew at every turn, and the 2018 Beavers will come out on the other side battle tested and much improved. Prediction: The Beavers finish the season 4-8


Sept. 1 @ Ohio State

Sept. 8 vs. Southern Utah

Sept. 15 @ Nevada

Sept. 22 vs. Arizona

Sept. 29 @Arizona State

Oct. 6 vs. Washington State

Oct. 20 vs. Cal

Oct. 27 @ Colorado

Nov. 3 vs. USC

Nov. 10 @ Stanford

Nov. 17 @ Washington

Nov. 23 vs. Oregon

#TBT with then Beavers QB Jonathan Smith

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#TBT with then Beavers QB Jonathan Smith

Let's rewind the clock back to 2001. After a 5-6 (3-5 Pac-10 conference) record, the Beavers met up with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Fiesta Bowl. Lead by quarterback Jonathan Smith, who is now in his first season as the Beavers head coach, OSU was looking to put a staple win to cap off their season. 

And that they did. Oregon State absolutely routed the Irish 41-9. Smith threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns, two of which to star receiver Chad Johnson and another to stud T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Smith lead the offense to 29 points in the third quarter. Due to his performance, Smith was awarded the Offensive Player of the Game.

"Well it was huge. I don't even think I totally realized it at the time when we were able to win the game of how big of an impact that would be not just for myself... but for the university itself."


Read: Mark your calendars: The most important games for OSU

OSU's Abel taking classes -- and taking it easy -- this summer in Corvallis

OSU's Abel taking classes -- and taking it easy -- this summer in Corvallis

HILLSBORO – The Hillsboro Hops honored Oregon State’s NCAA championship baseball team Monday night and Kevin Abel, the freshman right-hander who hurled a two-hit shutout in the title game, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

It bounced.

“That’s the first pitch I’ve thrown since the final game,” he said while signing hundreds of autographs with his teammates before and during Monday's game.

Abel is taking the summer off from competition, as is the custom for Oregon State pitchers while Beaver position players scatter around the country to play in various college summer leagues.

“Lift some weights, stay in shape and get a little bit ahead in school,” said Abel, who is taking summer classes in Corvallis.

The Beaver pitcher went the distance in the title game after a relief outing in the team’s previous game. And his coach, Pat Casey, has taken some criticism for using Abel that much.

Abel bristled at the suggestion Casey did anything wrong.

“I just appreciated him giving me the opportunity to do what I did,” Abel said. “I worked all season toward that. I know how to take care of myself. I was fine.”

Abel has done extensive training with Seattle’s Driveline, a sports-science, data-driven training program that is drawing rave reviews from pitchers and hitters, all the way from big-leaguers to Little Leaguers. He is continuing with that program this summer.

“I’ve been doing it since high school,” Abel said. “It’s helped me a lot. I’ve gained velocity and stamina.”

He does not plan to pitch again until fall baseball.

“I’ve been going since school started last year,” he said. “But I feel good."

How has his life changed since that championship game?

"A lot more followers on social media," he said. "My Instagram exploded."


A third national title? OSU is a juggernaut bordering on dynasty

A third national title? OSU is a juggernaut bordering on dynasty

OMAHA – After those back-to-back NCAA baseball championships in 2006 and 2007 I suppose it should have been no surprise when Oregon State captured another one Thursday night.

But come on, how could it not be special?

The job the Beavers have done on a national stage since Pat Casey took over the program has been incredible.

Casey has built a machine, one with a foundation made of equal parts talent, belief, recruiting, facilities, hard work and player development.

This is a full-fledged national power, as close to a dynasty as can be built in today’s college athletics.

And I’ve said it from the start, as somebody who played baseball, coached it and has written about it now for more decades than I care to remember:

I’m still not sure how you convince blue-chip players from places like California, Arizona, Nevada and other sun-belt environs to play college baseball in the often cold and wet Pacific Northwest. And even more difficult, how do you talk blue-chip players from the cold and wet Pacific Northwest into staying here for college baseball instead of fleeing to the sunshine?

It’s crazy – a story nobody would believed a couple of decades ago when players from this region dared not even dream of a trip to Omaha for anything but a visit to the city’s renowned zoo.

Some thoughts on what I saw from the Beavers during the championship finals:

  • Truly great teams win even when bad things happen to them. The Beavers didn’t get the pitching from their Big Two they’ve become accustomed to getting. They won anyway. They got some tough calls and bad breaks, too.
  • A big part of Oregon State's success has been preparation. And that means detailed and accurate scouting reports, from what I've heard. Assistant Coach Pat Bailey has been responsible for a lot of those reports and I do know when I congratulated him after the game, he smiled, shook his head and said, "There was a lot of watching video tape."
  • But when presented with the biggest break of all – a foul popup that could have closed the door on them that dropped untouched amid a Bermuda Triangle of Arkansas players – they took the game and the series away from the Pigs.
  • They found a freshman pitcher who worked miracles for them. Kevin Abel was a mystery much of the season – a freshman with great stuff who was unable to harness it. But the coaching staff and his teammates stuck with him and helped him turn into the surprise story of the tournament.
  • All Abel did was pitch the first nine-inning, two-hit shutout in championship game history. And become the first pitcher to ever win four games at the CWS. And all the while doing it on short rest and in the first nine-inning stint of his life.
  • Abel looked like a baby-faced Greg Maddux against the Razorbacks. He lost his curve ball for a few innings and continued to dominate with just his well-placed fastball and devastating change up. And he even managed to get into a Maddux-like rhythm with the home plate umpire that got him a lot of borderline strike calls.
  • Either that or catcher Adley Rutschman was stealing those strikes with his pitch framing.
  • And don’t forget the man calling that bewildering mix of pitches that kept the high-powered  Arkansas offense off balance all night. OSU pitching coach Nate Yeskie called a brilliant game from the dugout. And that’s a big part of it all.
  • And speaking of Rutschman – and who isn’t? – he owned this World Series from both sides of the plate and from behind it. The switch-hitting catcher had an on-base percentage over .500 and batting average over .400. I have every expectation that we’re going to see that Oregon State battery in the big leagues some day.
  • Trevor Larnach was terrific in the clutch in his quiet, unassuming way. What a stroke this kid has.
  • That keystone combination of Cadyn Grenier and Nick Madrigal was so fun to watch. Smart players with great hands are a necessity in the middle of the infield. I wish them luck in their professional careers and I’m not sure we’ll ever see the likes of a combo like that in Corvallis again.
  • That hamstring injury kept Steven Kwan out of most of the championship round but he was one of the best outfielders and lead-off hitters in the country. That his team won without him is testimony to its depth and resolve.'Veterans Michael Gretler and Jack Anderson were rock solid. Winning teams need solid veterans.

I don’t know what else to say about this bunch other than congratulations. Stories like theirs are the reason I got into this crazy business.

And why I’ve stayed in it.


Sights and sounds from Omaha

USA Today

Sights and sounds from Omaha

The Beavers dominated the Razorbacks in Game 3 of the College World Series to win the school's third baseball title on Thursday night. As usual, Twitter was on fire following the victory, just take a look.