Instant Analysis: Oregon State prevails over UCLA

Instant Analysis: Oregon State prevails over UCLA

Oregon State (2-3, 1-1 Pac-12) defeated the UCLA Bruins (1-5, 1-2 Pac-12) by a score of 48-31 in front of 48,532 in the Rose Bowl.  

The Beavers never trailed and earned their first conference win of the season. It is Jonathan Smith’s second career conference victory as Oregon State head coach. 

Here are some takeaways from the game:

1. A Perfect Start 

Oregon State held a 21-0 lead after only 6:01 minutes of play. Luton had two touchdown passes, Pierce ran all over UCLA, the defense stopped the Bruins on fourth down and the Beavers even recovered a dropkick kickoff taking advantage of a UCLA penalty. The Beavers came out as the aggressor and dominated the line of scrimmage while digging a hole for UCLA to climb out of. 

2. Running the ball early is key

To get that early lead, the Beavs repeatedly utilized the run game to move the chains. With Jermar Jefferson battling an ankle injury, Artavis Pierce got the start in his place. He entered the contest leading the Pac-12 in yards per carry at 8.4. He will leave Pasadena with that distinction in tact. His 53 yard run in the second quarter will stand out on the stat sheet, but he ran well past the line of scrimmage on the majority of his carries. When the Beavers can run the ball this effectively, it forces the defense to put more men near the line of scrimmage which opens up the passing game. 

3. Isaiah Hodgins is a cheatcode 

Isaiah Hodgins entered Saturday’s contest leading the Pac-12 in receiving yards, yards per game, and receptions per game. It didn’t take long for him to leave where he left off. Hodgins had two touchdowns in the first half to lead the Beavers to a 27-7 lead following his second score. 

If the Beavers need a play, Hodgins will deliver. For his first score, Luton threw a fade in the end zone where Hodgins' size was no match for the defender. In the third quarter, in response to a UCLA kickoff return for a touchdown, Hodgins came down with an acrobatic sideline catch to move the chains. He’d cap off that drive with his third touchdown of the night. 

Having a player like Hodgins, who is arguably the best receiver in the Pac-12, allows the Oregon State offense to flourish despite playing at a talent disadvantage, which they do in most conference games. The Beavers had better utilize him constantly while they can because he may be playing on Sundays this time next year.

4. Smith is leading real progress

A week following a heartbreaking loss to the Stanford Cardinal at home, Smith preached that his team was making progress when asked what it takes for a team to learn how to win. The Beavers backed up that claim today. 

From the first snap, the Beavers played with tenacity that resulted in dominating the Bruins on the road. The Beavers could have rolled over away from home, and previous teams may have done just that, but this team has worked hard and bought into the process implemented by Smith and his staff. 

In just 17 games, Smith has an efficient offense that can score frequently and a defense that has improved massively from the end of the Gary Andersen era. Showings like tonight act as proof that progress is being made and makes Oregon State a more attractive playing destination for potential recruits. If the Beavs can translate progress showed today to landing some more talented recruits, then a bowl game is only a matter of time. 

 

Talkin' Beavers Podcast: Noah Togiai compares senior night win to Civil War game

Talkin' Beavers Podcast: Noah Togiai compares senior night win to Civil War game

With 1:40 remaining on the game clock, the visiting Arizona State Sun Devils scored a touchdown and decided to go for two. A risk that did not pay off on a Saturday evening in Corvallis, Oregon.

The Oregon State (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) defense swarmed running back Eno Benjamin and forced him into a low percentage throw that was picked off in the end zone by Nahshon Wright. Game over. Beavs win, 35-34. Let the storming of the field begin from the Beaver Nation faithful.

On the latest Talkin' Beavers Podcast, host Nigel Burton is joined by Oregon State redshirt-senior tight end Noah Togiai to relive the big win over Arizona State on senior night and whether he's ready to follow in Olympic hurdler Devon Allen's footsteps and start hurdling. Togiai also reacts to Washington State running back Max Borghi's win guarantee.

Plus, Nigel hands out grades in the Beaver Report Card and looks ahead to the big matchup against Washington State.

Listen to the full podcast below:

Beavs vs Cougs: Winner goes bowling!

Beavs vs Cougs: Winner goes bowling!

I can't wait to get to the Palouse this upcoming weekend. Think about it, for the first time since the 2014 season the Oregon State Beavers have a chance to qualify for a bowl game.

Mike Riley's final season as Beaver coach included a big win over seventh-ranked Arizona State to improve the season record to 5-5. But Oregon State couldn't beat Washington or Oregon to qualify for a bowl. It's a similar situation in 2019 after four years and just nine wins. Jonathan Smith has transformed the Oregon State football program back into legitimacy. Now, can the 2019 team get to the next level in just year two with Smith and his talented coaching staff guiding the Beavs? The Cougs and the Ducks stand in the way of a bowl qualification.

Let's look at this matchup before Saturday's kickoff at 6 p.m. at Martin Stadium:

The obvious

The Beavers are better in 2019 and the Cougars are not the team they were last year. The Cougars won the Alamo Bowl over Iowa State last season and finished with 11 wins. This season, just like the Beavers, the Cougs are 5-5. 

The Beavers are in second place in the Pac-12 North at 4-3. The Cougars are tied for the cellar in the north at 2-5 with Cal. 

This northwest rivalry is streaky. The Cougs have beaten the Beavers five-straight times, but before that the Beavers had won six-of-seven. 

Both teams quarterbacks are going to be huge Saturday,

Cougars quarterback Anthony Gordon is a touchdown machine with 39 touchdown passes. He has thrown for 4,314 yards, but also has 11 interceptions.

Jake Luton has thrown for 2,306 yards, but he is much more consistent with the football. He has 23 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. 

The Intangibles

How will the Beavers react to the comments of Washington State running back Max Borghi?

He says the Cougs are winning Saturday and he guarantees it:

A win feels great (Stanford win) and now carry it into next week and have a great week of practice preparing for Oregon State cause we're going bowling and you can guarantee that cause we're winning next week.

He then stood up and walked out of the news conference in Pullman. Is that bulletin board material for the Beavs?

Another factor about Saturday's game is the timing. The students at Washington State have the week before Thanksgiving off. So after this Friday they have no classes until December 2. How many of them will stick around for a football game on a chilly Saturday night? The locals say most of the roads on Friday will have an exodus of students so the crowd at the game may not be anything close to what the Cougs normally draw. 

The Beavers players on this roster have never played an opponent with a bowl game in their sights. They are ready to make it happen:

Quarterback Jake Luton on the possibility of playing in a bowl game:

We've got everything we want, ya know, right in front of us. We've got the opportunity and thats all you want. As a competitor, as a football player you want an opportunity and we have a chance to do that next week.

Noah Togiai chimed in as well.

It is huge. Its something we haven't experienced since I have been here and we are going to try and treat it like any other game. We will enjoy the ASU win then get to work and treat the game like any other.

Jalen Moore added his thoughts.

Everyone is going to say what they are going to say you know that life. Its just worrying about being 1-0 on the week. Coach Tibesar says that all the time and you gotta be 1-0 on the week and thats what we are preaching all the time so we just wanna be 1-0 next week."

Hamilcar Rashed Jr. on playing for a bowl game.

It's there but you know we gotta put our best effort every week. We let Arizona State put up 34 points and 300 yards of offense and we can do better. We did better on the rush defense and we gotta be better.

One other intangible: the Beavers road record. They are currently on a three-game conference road winning streak and are 3-1 away from Corvallis.

Coaches

Jonathan Smith has been mentioned by some media types as a potential Pac-12 Coach of the Year candidate for his performance in year two in Corvallis.

Mike Leach has had a ton of success on the Palouse and has brought winning to Pullman. But this season he has criticized his players in graphic terms after losses. Following the 49-22 win at home over Stanford last week, Leach called Anthony Gordon the best quarterback in the country. 

He is also rumored to be on the list of other schools seeking a savior at the head coaching position. The Arkansas media has him in the top-three of potential coaches to turn around their football team.

What will happen Saturday?

I have no idea. But I do know that to see the Beavers playing in a game to qualify for a bowl game is a huge step for the program. Will they win?  Vegas odds have them as a 12-point underdog. The potential small crowd, the weather forecast in the low 30s or upper 20s could be a factor. This time of year snow can't be ruled out. 

Max Borghi says it's a done deal for WSU. I'm not so sure.

Oregon State wins the Preseason WNIT

Oregon State wins the Preseason WNIT

CORVALLIS - The No. 7 Oregon State Beavers are the 2019 Preseason WNIT champions. But it wasn’t easy.

A few nights after blitzing No. 18 Depaul 98-77 in the semifinals of the tournament, they got to host the Missouri State Lady Bears at Gill Coliseum. The Lady Bears had won 13 consecutive road games dating back to last season heading into the contest and upset Oklahoma earlier this week. 

Junior Aleah Goodman felt the win will help the Beavers in the long run:

To play in a tournament like this in November is huge for our team, huge for our confidence.

The Lady Bears led by four points at halftime, 39-35, and then extended that lead to as high as eight in the third quarter. In response, Beavers head coach Scott Rueck changed up the Beavers defense away from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone, which worked to great effect limiting the Lady Bears to 26.7% shooting in the third quarter. 

The Beavers went on to double the Lady Bears in the third quarter, 20-10. Redshirt junior guard Destiny Slocum hit a three pointer to close the third and give the Beavers a six-point advantage. In the fourth, the Beavers continued to push the pace for open three-pointers and came away victorious.

After the game, Slocum felt proud of her team:

We talk about championship mindset here a lot of the time, and [this] is the first net I’ve got to cut down...it feels good to start the season this way.

You can watch Aleah Goodman and Destiny Slocum react to the win in the video above.

Jonathan Smith is growing a program on Gary Andersen's scorched earth

Jonathan Smith is growing a program on Gary Andersen's scorched earth

I cannot say enough about the coaching job Jonathan Smith and his staff have done at Oregon State this season.

Gary Andersen left scorched earth when he pulled up stakes and headed south out of Corvallis two seasons ago. And already, Smith is growing a promising crop of players within a system that has kept his team in just about every game this season.

The Beavers have been competitive within the North Division of the Pac=12. And it’s been a while.

And making that climb from hopeless to hopeful is a long and arduous journey that Smith has accomplished a lot quicker than anybody had a real right to expect.

But what about the rest of this season? Oregon State is just one win away from being bowl eligible. Can it happen?

Obviously, it’s possible. After watching this bunch win conference road games, it’s easy to give them a fighting chance at a couple of games in which they will be underdogs. Next week, in Pullman against Washington State, I think OSU can pull it off if all goes well. And there’s always a chance when your team has a veteran quarterback and an offense that doesn’t turn the ball over frequently – which has been a hallmark of this season’s team.

The final game of the season will be in Eugene against the Ducks. And I’ve seen enough Civil War games to know that even though anything can happen, the favorite usually wins. And the Ducks will likely have so much at stake they should be at their very best.

But, come on! Would we have ever guessed we would see this much out of Oregon State this season? No way.

So, it probably wouldn’t be wise to totally count them out now.

In his last chance, Jake Luton leaves Reser Stadium victorious

In his last chance, Jake Luton leaves Reser Stadium victorious

CORVALLIS - Senior Day was special for all the Beavers (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) who defeated Arizona State (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12) for their first Pac-12 win at home since 2016. But starting quarterback Jake Luton wasn’t around the program in 2016.

The former JUCO transfer became the Beavers’ starting quarterback entering his redshirt junior season in 2017. Due to injuries, he got a sixth year of eligibility and a second year under head coach Jonathan Smith.

Luton has gone on the record saying that in his second season the playbook has been opened up for him and it shows. Luton has lead the Beavers to a 5-5 record which is double the amount of wins Vegas books had the Beavers winning. Luton and his favorite receiving target, Isaiah Hodgns, moved into second place in Oregon State history for most scoring connections between passer and receiver. 

But besides the success on the field, some things were still missing for Luton: a home victory over a conference opponent and a bowl game.

On Saturday, he accomplished that first goal, and inched towards the second. The Beavers are one win away from going bowling, surpassing nearly everyone’s expectations heading into the season.

Going into the game, Luton said he shed some tears for his last home game as a Beaver. After the game, the quarterback gave his thoughts on the win:

It’s a sweet feeling being able to come in, our last game in Reser Stadium as seniors and get a win against a good football team.

You can hear his full thoughts on the victory in the video above.

On Senior Day, the Beavers finally break through

On Senior Day, the Beavers finally break through

In one final game at Reser Stadium, the seniors got to walk off the field victors.

Following a perfectly-defended two-point conversion and a converted fourth and short by Oregon State, they finally broke the curse.

Going into the contest, the Beavers (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) had not defeated a conference opponent at Reser Stadium since the 2016 Civil War. This season especially had some ugly performances with the starting offense only putting up 28 total points against Pac-12 teams heading into Senior Day. 

But when the final whistle sounded and the clock hits zeros, the Beavers sideline sprinted onto the field with the students right on their tails. 

The seniors darted for the following sideline where all their parents resided for their final snaps in Corvallis. Everywhere you turned there were families hugging, celebrating, posing for pictures, etc. 

Senior lineman Gus Lavaka spoke about the win among the chaos.

There’s a lot of emotions right now. I mean, this is my last game... Just one more game and then we’re bowl-eligible. It was great to finish off senior night like this.

These seniors have been through multiple head coaches and have been instrumental in turning the program around. Without their hard work and them buying into Coach Smith’s vision for the program, they would not be one game away from a bowl with two games remaining. 

You can watch the full celebration of the players in the video above.

Proud Beaver Parents: I couldn't be more emotional

Proud Beaver Parents: I couldn't be more emotional

It was Senior Day in Corvallis: one last opportunity for the senior class to get a conference win at home.

Regardless of the Beavers' struggles at Reser Stadium this season, their home stadium remains a special place in the hearts of all players. Before the game, all the seniors on the team were honored for the sweat and tears poured into the program. Among them was offensive lineman Blake Brandel who, according to PFF, has been among the best performing tackles in the nation.

But the day isn’t just a celebration of the players, but a celebration of everyone in their lives that supported them to get where they are today. We caught up with some of those proud parents on the field.

Blandel’s father, Scott Brandel, had the following recollection of his son’s experience in Corvallis.

It’s a bittersweet moment right now. When he committed to Oregon State we were looking forward to some great things with Coach Riley and obviously things changed and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. But couldn’t be prouder of my son and all of these seniors.

But headlining the senior class for the Beavers is starting quarterback and six-year senior Jake Luton. He’s been with the team for three seasons now after being a JUCO transfer. We caught up with his father, Judd Luton, after his son was honored.

It’s amazing. The opportunities Oregon State’s offered us, my family, my son....I couldn’t be more proud, I couldn’t be more emotional. He’s an amazing kid.

You can watch the parents give their emotional answers ahead of the Beavers’ victory against the Sun Devils in the video above.

Instant Analysis: Oregon State sneaks out a win vs. Arizona State

Instant Analysis: Oregon State sneaks out a win vs. Arizona State

The Oregon State Beavers (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) have won a conference home game for the first time since the 2016 Civil War. On Senior Day against Arizona State (5-5, 2-5 Pac-12), the Beavers defeated the Sun Devils 35-34.

Here are some takeaways from the game:

Luton, the offense, finally put it together at home

In Jake Luton’s final game at Reser Stadium, he finally came away with a win against a conference opponent. The offense used intermediate passes of over 15 yards to stretch the defense so Jermar Jefferson and Artavis Pierce had more room to run. In the second quarter, the Luton to Hodgins connection moved up alone in second place for touchdown connections between quarterback and receiver in school history. However, it wasn't all pretty as the Beavers' offense lost their first fumble of the season in the third quarter. Going into the game, the Beavers’ offense had struggled at home this season but put it all together just in time for Senior Day.

Defense played well enough 

Despite a point total of 34, the Beavers defense played better than that number indicates. Given how well their offense was playing, the defense needed to just slow down the Sun Devils enough to give their offense more opportunities. One of the highlights of the night happened on the last play of the first half when Hamilcar Rashed Jr set the Oregon State record of 13.0 sacks in a single season. The Beavers also forced a fumble deep in Arizona State territory early in the second half which led to a double digit lead. Every possession mattered today and the Beavers defense got just enough stops to pull out the win, including a 2-point conversion stop that would have given ASU the lead with 1:40 to play.

Poor return coverage

While the Beavers defense has played well, special teams have not done them any favors. In the first half alone, the Sun Devils had 95 kickoff return yards and 77 punt return yards, including a 63 yard return for a touchdown by Brandon Aiyuk in the second quarter to tie the game at 21. Many of the returns would have been even larger if not for David Morris who made potential-touchdown saving tackles. The Beavers’ lackluster return coverage has already blown a game this season when they gave up a large return against Stanford in Oregon State’s conference opener to set up a game winning field goal. 

Check back later tonight and throughout tomorrow for more Beavers content following the win!

Oregon State vs Arizona State: 10 Things to Know

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Oregon State vs Arizona State: 10 Things to Know

The Oregon State Beavers (4-5, 3-3 Pac-12) will play their final home game of the season against the Arizona State Sun Devils (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) at 4:30 p.m. PST at Reser Stadium.

Here are 10 things to know ahead of the game:

HOME OF HORRORS

The Beavers have not defeated an FBS opponent at home since the 2016 Civil War. Despite Oregon State vastly outplaying their expectations this season, their lone victory at Reser Stadium came against FCS-opponent Cal Poly. However, their undefeated record away from Reser in conference play means a bowl game is still in play.

BOWL?

With three games to play, the Beavers need to win two of them to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. This Saturday is a must-win game against a team on the downswing (Sun Devils’ three-game losing streak). The following two games for Oregon State will kickoff in Pullman, WA (at Washington State) and Eugene, OR (at Oregon).

LUTON TO HODGINS MOVING UP THE STANDINGS

Jake Luton has connected with Isaiah Hodgins for 17 career touchdowns – tying the duo with Erik Wilhelm-Robb Thomas from the 1980s. Only six touchdown catches separates the current duo from the record-setting pair of Sean Mannion to Brandin Cooks, who have 23 touchdown connections from their playing days. Luton and Hodgins will look to move into second place on Saturday.

HODGINS, BILETNIKOFF?

All season, Isaiah Hodgins has taken his play to a whole new level. He has 928 receiving yards this season, ninth in the nation and second in the Pac-12. In addition, his 12 touchdown catches ranks first in the Pac-12 and tied for third nationally. He is also second in the country with 43 receptions of 10-plus yards. Whenever he’s in the game, the Beavers offense is dangerous.

DYNAMIC BACKFIELD

Running backs Artavis Pierce and Jermar Jefferson have a legitimate chance to be the first two teammates with 2,000-plus career rushing yards at OSU. Pierce only needs 18 yards and Jefferson needs 180. Both should easily be achievable given their success this season running the rock. Even just looking at last season, Jefferson rushed for 254 yards against Arizona State, the second-most ever by a Beaver. No wonder former Beavers running back Steven Jackson was impressed by them.

FRESHMAN CAME TO PLAY

Inside linebacker Omar Speights had 18 tackles last week against Washington, the most by a freshman this season not only for Oregon State, but the nation. He has 51 tackles for the year, first in the Pac-12 and fourth nationally for freshmen. He’s already a difference maker and Beavers nation should be hyped to watch him progress in the future. 

MATCHUP OF SOPHOMORE COACHES

Both teams will be led by coaches in their sophomore seasons at their respective schools. Joanthan Smith returned to Corvallis to take over the program while Herm Edwards joined the college ranks for the first time in a coaching capacity. Both coaches have had their teams playing above expectations since being hired.

THE BEAVERS OFFENSE IS EFFICIENT

The Beavers lead the nation with having only committed three turnovers leading to just seven opponent points. That’s 62 less points off turnovers given up this season than last season. Taking care of the ball has also put the defense in better positions to succeed. 

Also, when the Beavers drive into the redzone, they don’t let drives stall. The team has scored touchdowns on 83.3 percent of the time entering the red zone, third in the nation.

THE DEFENSE TERRORIZES THE BACKFIELD

By far the largest question mark for the Beavers heading into this season was the defense. After a few games, those concerns looked warranted. The defense has only continued to improve. The team leads the conference with 72 tackles-for-loss which also ranks as the 13th most in the nation. Linebacker Hamilcar Rashed Jr. has already tied an Oregon State record with 12 sacks in a season. He’ll look to break the record on Saturday.

SENIOR DAY

Saturday will be the final home game for all the seniors in the program. This class has meant a lot to Oregon State since they needed to buy in when their coach, Gary Andersen resigned, and Jonathan Smith came back. The current Beavers head coach has spoken numerous times about how important this class has been to the upward trajectory of the program.

MORE ON THE BEAVS

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Ahead of senior day, Jonathan Smith is thankful for his seniors

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