'Two steps back' for Beavers
CORVALLIS — Isaiah Hodgins had a productive first half catching the football. Daniel Rodriguez continued his string of solid punting games.
That's about it for the positives in Oregon State's humiliating 52-7 loss to Utah on Saturday at Reser Stadium.
The 15th-ranked Utes (5-1 overall, 2-1 in Pac-12 play) are an excellent, well-balanced team with a legitimate shot at the Pac-12 championship. That doesn't excuse the product the Beavers (2-4, 1-2) left on the carpet at Reser.
"We didn't show up today, it's as simple as that," OSU linebacker Hamilcar Rashed said. "I thought we practiced well this week, but it's what you do in the game that matters. We didn't prove ourselves today. We have to do better."
A homecoming crowd announced at 31,730 was on hand for the opening kickoff. By the start of the third quarter, with the good guys on the short end of a 35-0 count, more than half the stadium had emptied. By the time Calvin Tyler scored a meaningless touchdown in the final minute to avoid a shutout, the stands were almost a ghost town.
For Beaver Nation, it must have been hard to watch. Most would have been satisfied with a competitive game against a member of the Pac-12 elite, but competitive it wasn't. The last time Oregon State suffered a more one-sided defeat at home was a 58-6 thumping by Washington in 1991, Jerry Pettibone's first year as the Beavers' coach.
Coach Kyle Whittingham's Utes jumped to a 21-0 first-quarter lead and never looked back. The OSU offense couldn't run against one of the best run defenses in the country. The OSU defense gave up a wave of big plays, both on the ground and through the air. Two OSU place-kickers missed eminently makeable field-goal attempts. The Beavers didn't just lose. They lost ugly.
"Disappointing," coach Jonathan Smith said. "Painful. We couldn't match their physicality. We talked about them making us earn it. We couldn't earn it.
"I will give those guys some credit. That's a good team. Coach 'Whit' has that thing going in all phases. We couldn't match it tonight. In this league, if you don't bring your 'A' game, you're going to get beat. Where we're at, if we don't bring our 'A' game, we're going to get blown out, especially against a good team like that."
Oregon State actually ran four more plays than Utah — 64-60 — and was outgained 503 yards to 217. The Utes had a string of dynamic plays, including a 91-yard touchdown run by Zach Moss, a 54-yard reception by Demari Simpkins and a 64-yard interception return for a touchdown by Devin Lloyd.
"They made some plays," Smith said, "and we couldn't create anything to get some momentum going."
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley completed 14 of 17 passes for 247 yards and two TDs. Moss carried only five times for 121 yards and two scores. On Moss' long run to paydirt, OSU safety Shawn Wilson hit him at the line of scrimmage but didn't wrap up. Moss veered outside and was gone.
"You have to tackle," said OSU safety Jalen Moore, who had a team-high 11 tackles after missing the two previous games. "We didn't do a good enough job of it."
Oregon State's offense came in averaging 37 points per game. The Beavers didn't score until inside the final minute, when backup QB Tristan Gebbia connected with fourth-string tailback Calvin Tyler on a 15-yard TD pass. Utah's defense entered the game fourth in the nation in rush defense at 53.8 yards per game. The Beavers didn't even make that. They gained a net 48 yards on the ground. Starting tailback Artavis Pierce managed 21 yards on 10 totes.
"They're a great front seven," OSU offensive tackle Blake Brandel said. "They have a lot of good guys up there. Whatever we were doing wasn't good enough."
Starting QB Jake Luton, the national player of the week by one service after accounting for six touchdowns in last Saturday's 48-31 victory at UCLA, connected on 17 of 34 passes for 131 yards before giving way to Gebbia in the fourth quarter. Much of the time, Luton was running for his life from pressure. He was sacked only once but had several throwaways when hurried by Utah blitzes.
"We thought it was a good week to heat this guy (Luton) up," Whittingham said. "He hadn't faced a lot of pressure, and we did up our dose of pressure."
The Beavers were unable to build much momentum at the offensive end. They drove into Utah territory five times, but wound up with one late TD and two missed field-goal attempts out of it.
"We knew this was one of the better defenses in the league," Smith said. "We failed that test."
"Their front seven is probably the best in the league," Luton said. "Their DBs are up here. They don't have a weakness. They're good across the board. We knew we were going to have to bring our best, and we didn't."
Did the Beavers get full of themselves after pushing around Chip Kelly's Bruins? Did they slack off at practice in preparation for Utah?
"I don't think we were slacking," Brandel said. "I don't think there was a lack of focus or effort. I don't think anyone relaxed. We were a 2-3 team (before Saturday). There's nothing to be happy about. We had a good week of practice. It was just not a good game."
"I thought we had our best week of practice," Luton said. "I don't think that's what it was at all. We worked hard all week. I don't think it was like we got comfortable or anything like that."
Since an opening 52-36 loss to Oklahoma State, Oregon State had been in it to the end of every game. With three-point losses to Hawaii and Stanford, the Beavers could well have been 4-1 going into the Utah game. There was nothing to feel good about Saturday, though, in part because the Utes pounced and wouldn't let up.
"We've made some progress, but it's not always going to continue on a steady line," Smith said. "It's going to have some ups and downs. I feel like we've taken two steps forward. Tonight, we took two steps back."
NOTES — Oregon State's next action is 11:30 a.m. Saturday at California in Berkeley. The Bears (4-2, 1-2) are coming off a bye . ... Hodgins caught eight passes for 77 yards, including seven for 70 yards in the first half. The 6-4, 215-pound junior has 51 receptions for 709 yards and nine TDs this season. .... Rodriguez averaged 40.9 yards on seven punts. He had punted 14 times for a 47.9-yard average in the first five games. ... Lloyd's second-quarter pick-six — off a tipped ball — snapped Luton's nation's-best streak of 181 straight passes without an interception. Luton fell one short of matching Matt Moore's school record. ... OSU senior Jordan Choukair missed a second-quarter, 44-yard field-goal attempt, dropping him to 2 for 6 for the season. The Beavers used true freshman Everett Hayes on the final play of the first half. He missed a 42-yard try. Hayes converted an extra point late in the game. Will he be the Beavers' kicker against Cal? "We'll continue to compete at that spot moving forward," Smith said. ... Sophomore tailback Jermar Jefferson did not play, with coaches wanting to give him more time to rest an injured ankle. Might Jefferson redshirt this season? "No," Smith said. ... OSU linebacker Avery Roberts sat out the game under concussion protocol. Smith said he anticipates him being ready to go for the Cal game. ... Moss' 91-yard TD run was the longest run ever by an opponent at Parker/Reser Stadium.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Utah 21 14 14 3 — 52
Oregon State 0 0 0 7 — 7
UTAH — Brant Kuithe 21 pass from Tyler Huntley (Jadon Redding kick) 9:58
UTAH — Zack Moss 91 run (Redding kick) 6:26
UTAH — Samson Nacua 30 pass from Huntley (Redding kick) 1:09
UTAH — Devin Lloyd 64 interception return (Redding kick) 3:03
UTAH — Moss 6 run (Redding kick) :54
UTAH — Devin Brumfield 1 run (Redding kick) 9:17
UTAH — Jordan Wilmore 7 run (Redding kick) 2:46
UTAH — Redding 42 FG 9:34
OSU — Calvin Tyler 15 pass from Tristan Gebbia (Jordan Choukair kick) :54
Att. — 31,730
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.