Hall wants changes with OSU defense
A look back at Oregon State's 49-28 loss Saturday night at Arizona, and ahead to OSU's home finale against Arizona State at noon Saturday at Reser Stadium …
• I can't remember when an Oregon State team was so thoroughly whipped in a first half. Arizona enjoyed a 384-82 offensive yards advantage in rolling to a 28-0 lead.
I'm not sure if the Wildcats eased off the throttle in the second half or if OSU just decided to compete, but the final 30 minutes were much different. The Beavers (1-9 overall, 0-7 in Pac-12 action) outscored the Wildcats 28-21 and made the final tally a little more respectable.
"For us to bounce back like that and see the production we had — it's frustrating," said Ryan Nall, who finished with 95 yards rushing and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. "If we'd done that for all four quarters, we could have come out with a win."
It would have been difficult, though, with Khalil Tate at the controls for Arizona.
The fleet-of-foot quarterback 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 as Arizona mounted a school-record 534 yards.
Sometimes, a one-dimensional offense works. Tate threw only seven times — completing five for 68 yards, all in the first half. Arizona 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.
• As he met with the media shortly before midnight, 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 said. "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 the first half. 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."
There is really no excuse for how poorly Oregon State played in the first half. Some of that is on the coaches, but they deserve a little slack. They were left in an almost impossible position when head coach Gary Andersen resigned at midseason. To their credit, with the exception of Saturday's first 30 minutes, the Beavers have been more competitive than they were under Andersen this season.
• If the Beavers are to be competitive in the final two games, they'll need to do what they did in the second half Saturday. They have to run the ball effectively, using their best weapons — tailbacks Nall, Thomas Tyner and Artavis Pierce. And they'll need to keep the defenses honest with Garretson throwing downfield some.
Oregon State controlled the ball against Arizona, winning 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.
"We're not going to quit," he said. "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."
• Arizona State (5-5, 4-3) will be playing for a bowl berth Saturday after falling 44-37 to UCLA last weekend. The Sun Devils will be the underdog in their season finale against Arizona, so much will be on the line in Corvallis.
The Bruins gained 573 yards total offense, but ASU was even better — 584, including 294 yards on the ground. The Devils didn't finish drives, though, three times moving inside the UCLA 10 but settling for chip-shot field goals.