Tate, mates too much for Oregon State
TUCSON, Arizona — It was over almost before it started.
Oregon State might as well have been playing Alabama, or the New England Patriots, during the first half Saturday night at Arizona Stadium.
The Beavers spotted Arizona a 28-0 halftime lead, and the Wildcats went on to amass a school-record 534 yards rushing in a 49-28 victory.
Fleet-of-foot quarterback Khalil Tate ran 16 times for 206 yards and two touchdowns and running backs JJ Taylor and Nick Wilson each topped the 100-yard mark on the ground.
Sometimes, a one-dimensional offense works. Tate threw only seven times — completing five for 68 yards, all in the first half. Arizona (7-3 overall, 5-2 in Pac-12 play) had only 22 plays in the second half — 21 runs and a punt.
The Wildcats, who finished with 602 yards total offense, didn't need to pass. They ran around and through the Oregon State defense, especially when the 6-2, 215-pound Tate — blessed with the size of a tailback and the wheels of a sprinter — had the ball in his hands.
Afterward, interim coach Cory Hall, who coaches the OSU cornerbacks, seemed to call out the defensive coaches.
"There are some things that have to change," Hall began as he addressed the media. "Those players deserve better. … they deserve a lot better than what's being displayed right now."
The coaches, then, need to do a better job?
"Me sitting in this position, it's my responsibility to make sure they do better," Hall said. "You saw
Arizona run weak side. Last week, Cal ran weak side. … at some point, you have to look elsewhere and adjust and put players in a better situation.
"We have to do better. It has to be top priority. I'll take responsibility, because I'm sitting here in this position. I'm not unhappy with the players on defense. I'm not unhappy with the players on offense. This is something we have to learn as a group, as a team. We have to take ownership."
Hall complimented his offensive coaches for making adjustments after a first half in which the Beavers were outgained 384 yards to 82. In the second half, with Darell Garretson throwing for four touchdowns, Oregon State accounted for 15 first downs and 278 yards total offense.
"The offensive side adjusted," Hall said. "They did a good job of that. That's what you saw in the second half."
The Beavers (1-9, 0-7) were never really back in the game, though, because the defense was never able to slow down the Wildcats enough.
Hall was asked if he needs to have his fingerprints more on the defense as Oregon State prepares for its final two games — at home against Arizona State next Saturday and at Oregon for the Civil War contest on Nov. 25.
"Absolutely," he nodded. "I have faith that, in the last two weeks as a staff, we'll give the players what they need. … We have to put our players in a position to be successful, period, point blank."
Oregon State's defenders, however, put the onus on themselves.
"We have to finish plays," said safety Jalen Moore, who had a team-high nine tackles. "(The OSU defensive coaches) were trying to call anything they could that would work. It was really on us. They can't go out there and play for us. Sometimes, we have to do our job. We have to be disciplined."
"The first three touchdowns, it was lost gaps or missed assignments on our part," linebacker Kee Whetzel said.
There were times, though, when OSU defenders seemed to read Arizona's play and have Tate in their sights, and he either faked them out of position or ran by them.
"I got nothing but respect for that player," Moore said, "but it's on us. We were making technical mistakes. (The Wildcats) are a good team, a fast team, but we were technically not doing our job.
"It's assignment football. When you make a mistake, (Tate is) going to take advantage of that."
Arizona's defense was also up to the task in the first half. Ryan Nall, OSU's junior running back, gained a dozen yards on nine carries before the break. It was like running into a brick wall.
"(The Wildcats) stacked the box," Nall said. "They had nine guys in there. It was difficult. They play hard."
It was a different Oregon State offense in the second half. Garretson had some success through the air, and Nall and Thomas Tyner got loose for some long runs. After five punts on five possessions in the first half, the Beavers scored touchdowns on four of their six offensive series in the second half.
"We were able to throw the ball to open up the run game," said Nall, who finished with 95 yards on 22 rushes and also caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. "We hit some gap schemes. We laid it out there."
The total offense figures reflected Arizona's dominance in rolling up its four-touchdown halftime lead. The Wildcats picked up 329 yards rushing, Tate leading the way with 121 yards on 13 carries and Taylor adding 100.
Arizona took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown. Tate ran five times in the series, including a 22-yard scamper on third-and-8 from the Wildcat 47.
The Wildcats went on another long drive — eight plays, 85 yards — to make it 14-0 late in the first quarter.
Arizona's next possession covered 78 yards in eight plays. Tate shook off a tackle attempt by OSU safety David Morris at the line of scrimmage and bolted 19 yards for the TD and a 21-0 advantage with 9:01 left in the second quarter.
Taylor's 56-yard run set up Tony Ellison's 27-yard touchdown run on a reverse, and the Wildcats' edge was 28-0 at intermission. Oregon State had 48 yards passing and 34 yards rushing at the break.
"We wanted to establish the run," Hall said. "We played behind the chains a little bit. (The Wildcats) got us out of some drives quickly, and defensively, we couldn't stop that running game. We didn't do much in our throw game, either."
Oregon State's offense finally showed some life on the first possession of the third quarter, marching 65 yards in nine plays. Garretson found tight end Noah Togiai between two defenders for 15 yards and a touchdown, and the Beavers trailed 28-7 with 10:16 left in the quarter.
Then — boom! — Tate darted left, broke into the open field and dashed 71 yards for a TD and a 35-7 Wildcat advantage.
The Beavers came back with another solid drive, this one covering 60 yards in eight plays. Garretson connected with Isaiah Hodgins for six yards and a score on a fade route, and Arizona's lead was 35-14 with 5:51 left in the quarter.
Oregon State's defense forced a punt — finally — but the OSU offense went three-and-out, and Alex Bland's 23-yard shank punt set up Arizona's offense at the Beaver 34. Six plays later, Zach Green scored from three yards to lift the Wildcats to a 42-14 advantage.
The Beavers had another long drive — 10 plays, 75 yards. And when Garretson hit a wide-open Timmy Hernandez for 15 yards and a TD — his third scoring strike of the evening — the difference was 42-21 with 10:44 to go. But the outcome was already decided.
"I'm not going to take anything away from Arizona," Hall said. "(The Wildcats) executed offensively and defensively. We knew we needed to control the time of possession. We needed to keep that (Arizona) offense off the field."
The Beavers did win the time of possession — 33:49 to 26:11. The Wildcats had five dynamic plays, though, and the quick-hitters meant big trouble for the OSU defense.
Hall is of irrepressible spirit, and he is in no mood to give up the fight, even after falling to 0-4 as an interim head coach.
"The thing that keeps me encouraged is looking into the eyes of the players after the game," he said. "There's still no quit."
Nall vows that's not going to happen.
"For us to bounce back like that and see the production we had — it's frustrating," he said. "If we'd done that for all four quarters, we could have come out with a win.
"But we're not going to quit. We're never going to. We knew tonight we weren't going to give up on each other. That's how it's going to be the last two weeks. We're going to show Beaver Nation we care and we still have love."
Hall said it's upon the players to "come together and help us move forward in a positive direction."
"Nothing will divide us," he said. "My job will be keeping everybody together and focused.
"As a staff, I expect us to show up and do our job, and to ensure that our players have a fighting chance. That's always my priority, but there's a bigger sense of urgency now."
NOTES — Oregon State's next action is noon Saturday against Arizona State in the Beavers' home finale. … Garretson finished 16 of 28 for 209 yards passing. He was sacked four times. … Tyner rushed for 42 yards on seven carries and caught a pass for eight yards. … OSU linebacker Manase Hungalu left the game in the third quarter with an apparent rib injury and didn't return. … OSU linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu played only the second half after a suspension for a targeting call in last week's 37-23 loss at California. … When Arizona's Josh Pollack punted late in the third quarter, it was the first punt against Oregon State in seven quarters. California didn't have to punt in its 37-23 victory over the Beavers a week ago. … Oregon State entered the game having won 13 of the last 16 meetings between the teams, including six of the last seven in Tucson. … Nall has 2,133 career rushing yards, moving past J.J. Young (2,084 from 1991-94) into ninth place on the OSU list. Next at No. 8: Bill "Earthquake" Enyart (2,155). … The crowd was announced at 40,984, but probably 25,000 attended, a reflection of the 8:15 p.m. kickoff.
OSU 0 0 14 14 — 28
ARIZONA 14 14 14 7 — 49
ARIZ — Nick Wilson 1 run (Josh Pollack kick), 11:10
ARIZ — Zack Green 4 run (Pollack kick), :25
ARIZ — Khalil Tate 19 run (Pollack kick), 9:01
ARIZ — Tony Ellison 27 run (Pollack kick), 1:11
OSU — Noah Togiai 15 pass from Darell Garretson (Jordan Choukair kick), 10:16
ARIZ — Tate 71 run (Pollack kick), 9:39
OSU — Isaiah Hodgins 6 pass from Garretson (Choukair kick), 5:54
ARIZ — Green 3 run (Pollack kick), :33
OSU — Timmy Hernandez 15 pass from Garretson (Choukair kick), 10:44
ARIZ — Brandon Dawkins 4 run (Pollack kick), 6:33
OSU — Ryan Nall 44 pass from Garretson (Choukair kick), 3:22
Att. — 40,984