Beavers look to start faster versus Huskies
Well, putting a twist on the cliche, it's not how you finish but how you start — at least in the case of Oregon State's football team, which dropped its season opener, 38-28, to Washington State on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The Beavers were pretty woeful on offense to start the game, recording minus-three net yards on nine plays on the first three drives, which ended with punts.
Then, trailing only by a touchdown, the Beavers went three-and-out on consecutive drives to start the third quarter — six plays, minus-five yards, two punts — and the Cougars scored consecutive touchdowns to go ahead 28-7. The Beavers fought hard down the stretch, led by QB Tristan Gebbia and running back Jermar Jefferson, but untimely offensive ineptitude cost them the game.
Oregon State plays at Washington at 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, and it's pretty obvious what the Beavers have to do better:
"We gotta start faster, that's all there is to it," said Gebbia, who went 34 of 48 for 329 yards and a score, complementing Jefferson's 140 yards rushing and three scores on 21 carries.
"As an offense, it starts with me … we just can't come out and start slow like that. It's not helping the defense by going three-and-out and making them be on the field more often than they have to be."
Overall, the offensive numbers weren't too shabby, but the unit was inconsistent and the defense wasn't really stopping the Cougars and true freshman QB Jayden de Laura and second-string running back Deon McIntosh. De Laura, from Honolulu's St. Louis High (alma mater of former Oregon star Marcus Mariota), went 18 of 33 for 227 yards and two scores, and added 43 yards rushing and a score on eight carries. McIntosh, playing the prime role with Max Borghi injured, had 147 yards rushing and a score on 18 carries. Playmaker Travell Harris had 29- and 28-yard TD receptions and a clinching 44-yard TD run.
Yep, the Cougars gashed the Oregon State defense with 227 yards passing and 229 yards rushing (7.6 yards/carry).
The Beavers didn't tackle well. "No question we have to tackle better," OSU coach Jonathan Smith said.
And, they only notched one sack of the elusive de Laura (by Kitan Oladapo). Hamilcar Rashed Jr., who had 14 sacks last year, was shut out.
"The ball was coming out quickly sometimes, and they got a good offensive line and protected him well," Smith added. "He did extend plays, he's a good athlete. … We didn't affect the quarterback."
And, the Beavers were upset about how de Laura, Harris and the run-and-shoot exploited the pass defense. "I thought he picked us apart in the secondary," said Jaydon Grant, who intercepted de Laura in the end zone.
Overall of the defense, "it definitely wasn't to our standard that we've set for ourselves and what coaches are expecting us to play to," Grant added. "We didn't make plays."
So, the Beavers' defense has to improve for the game against the Huskies.
But, what about the offense? Gebbia had a strong second half, going 24 of 32 for 241 yards, and Jefferson scored all of his TDs in the second half. Still, the Beavers have to develop some consistency.
"It took us awhile to get any kind of rhythm, offensively," Smith said. Gebbia played better in "desperation mode," and Jefferson "ran well ... ran hard."
The Beavers spread the ball around in the pass game, as Trevon Bradford and Kolby Taylor had seven receptions each (with Bradford catching a TD ball), Champ Flemings and Jefferson five each, freshman Zeriah Beason four and tight end Luke Musgrave three.
Said Gebbia: "We have a lot of talent on the offensive side, and good coaching. We just have to execute better."
The Huskies had their season-opening game against California canceled because of COVID-19 positive tests for some Cal players that left the Bears' scholarship roster thin.
Jimmy Lake, the former defensive coordinator, took over as head coach after Chris Petersen's resignation. He'll have a new quarterback — probably either Kevin Thomson or Dylan Morris (although Ethan Garbers and Jacob Sirmon have also been considered). It's Thomson's seventh year of college ball, having played at UNLV and Sacramento State.
A couple running backs return in Richard Newton and Sean McGrew (although senior Kamari Pleasant could be the starter). Three receivers with experience return — Ty Jones, Puka Nacua, Terrell Bynum — and tight end Cade Otton could be a star.
The defense includes some seniors, including defensive back Elijah Molden from West Linn and outside linebacker Ryan Bowman. The Huskies had defensive lineman Levi Onwuzurike and linebacker Joe Tryon opt out, but sophomore D-tackle Tuli Letuligasenoa and outside linebackers Laiatu Latu and Sav'ell Smalls should make impacts.
The Beavers lost for the seventh consecutive time against Washington State. The Huskies have won eight a row against the Beavers.
Smith was disappointed after Oregon State's opener. He expected more of the Beavers at the start of his third season.
"They just played better than us, and we dug a hole we couldn't get out of," he said. "I appreciate the guys' fight. It's disappointing to get outplayed and lose games."
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