Beavers can't be late to Tate
CORVALLIS — Notes, quotes and observations concerning Oregon State football as the Beavers (1-8 overall, 0-6 in Pac-12 play) visit Arizona (6-3, 4-2) for an 7:15 p.m. PT Saturday date …
• There may never have been a college football phenomenon quite like Khalil Tate, Arizona's 6-2, 215-pound sophomore quarterback.
Tate — aka "Mr. October" — is the first player ever to win four straight Pac-12 player of the week awards. He was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week every week in October. And yes, Tate got a vote each time from yours truly.
The Inglewood, California native — the L.A. Times Prep Quarterback of the year as a senior — was backup to Brandon Dawkins as a true freshman last season at Arizona, starting one game.
Dawkins, now a junior, was the starter again to begin this season. Coach Rich Rodriguez said he had the upper hand during August training camp, and then Tate suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of action during the early season.
But Dawkins was only so-so as the Wildcats started 2-2. When he suffered an injury in the first quarter against Colorado on Oct. 7, Tate went in.
He has never come back out.
In a 45-42 win over the Buffaloes, Tate completed 12 of 13 passes for 154 yards and a touchdown and ran 14 times for 327 yards — an FBS record by a quarterback — and four touchdowns.
In a 47-30 win over UCLA on Oct. 14, Tate rushed 15 times for 230 yards and two TDs and completed 9 of 13 for 148 yards and one TD.
In a 45-44 win over California on Oct. 21, Tate ran 17 times for 137 yards and a TD and connected on 10 of 15 passes for 166 yards and two scores.
In a 58-37 rout of Washington State on Oct. 28, Tate ran 14 times for 153 yards and two TDs and completed 10 of 17 passes for 275 yards and two scores.
The four-game totals: 847 yards and nine touchdowns rushing, 743 yards and six touchdowns passing. Extrapolated over an entire season, those are beyond Heisman Trophy candidate numbers. They are historically good.
Tate seemed more mortal iin last Saturday's 49-35 loss at 17th-ranked Southern Cal, at least in the passing game, where he completed 14 of 31 for 146 yards and two TDs with two interceptions. He was sacked five times. But Tate also rushed 21 times for 198 yards and a TD, minus the sack yardage. And he took the Wildcats from a 28-6 deficit to a 35-35 tie with eight minutes to play.
• The straw who stirs the drink in Tucson has become the first Pac-12 QB ever to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. And he has four more games to play, including a bowl game. For 60 minutes on Saturday, Tate is Oregon State's problem.
"He's a dynamic player," OSU interim head coach Cory Hall says. "He is playing some really good football for them. They're getting a lot of miles out of him. He commands a lot of attention with his ability to run the football."
That's putting it mildly. Tate is taking snaps, but he's like a tailback with sprinter's speed. He is big enough to bounce off tacklers and fast enough to run away from defenders once he finds a crease. How to contain him?
"You have to hit him," Hall says. "That's the first thing. It's the same thing with Colin Kaepernick and all the good running quarterbacks. If they're going to put their best player out there running the ball like that, you have to make them pay."
• If Oregon State got the short end of the referees' stick in its 37-23 loss at California on Saturday —and it seemed that way — the Beavers take part of the blame for not keeping the officials honest.
In Cal's 31-second drive at the end of the first half that began at the Cal 15 and resulted in a 49-yard field goal to give the Bears a 20-13 lead, three of the four plays could have been challenged.
The most egregious error came on the final play. With the Bears at the OSU 43 and six seconds on the clock, the Beaver defense went into prevent mode. That was a mistake, because Cal wasn't going to go for a Hail Mary pass. The Bears were going to try to complete a short pass to get close enough for a Matt Anderson field goal.
But it's almost impossible to get a completed pass off in five seconds, which is what Cal needed to do. Perhaps a short out pattern near the sidelines, but little else.
Instead, the Bears threw for 11 yards over the middle to the OSU 32. They called timeout even before the play was whistled down, and the home-school operator stopped the clock at one second. Anderson's 49-yard field goal nullified the Beavers' momentum — Jordan Choukair's 49-yard field goal had drawn them to within 17-13 with 41 seconds left — and restored Cal's seven-point advantage going into the half.
There's no way that should have been allowed. But there were no protests on any of the plays from the coaches on the OSU sideline. And that's on them.
• Hall wasn't complaining, either, about the targeting calls on cornerback Kyle White and linebacker Bright Ugwoegbu. Not that he agreed with the calls — he was especially uncertain about Ugwoegbu's, which will keep the junior out of the first half of the Arizona game.
"But I'm not going to cry over spilt milk," Hall says. "They made the rulings. They also called (OSU safety) Jalen Moore for a roughing-the-passer penalty that I'm not sure about.
"I don't want to be a coach who complains about the refs. I'm not going to go on a witch hunt."
Hall says he will submit several plays in the game to the Pac-12 supervisor of officials to review. He also says it was difficult to watch the video on Sunday.
"Somebody who was there with me said it sounded like I was giving childbirth," Hall laughs, perhaps with the thought that his wife, Sarah, is expecting any day now. "It was painful to watch.
"But you can't let calls be the determining factor between winning and lose. No matter how tough it gets for us, we have to get tougher. Don't make excuses. Play harder. And don't get me wrong — my guys are playing hard."
• Hall coaches OSU's cornerbacks, ironically the position with most injuries and the least depth. Hall has started seven players at the two spots this season, including safety Landry Payne, and safety/nickel back Omar Hicks-Onu stepped in when White was ejected on Cal's first possession and went the rest of the way.
White and true freshman Isaiah Dunn will be the starters Saturday, and Hall is hopeful to regain the services of Shawn Wilson, Jay Irvine and/or Xavier Crawford, though he is sure about none of the three.
"We'll do the best we can with the guys we have out here," Hall vows.