Beavers look for first win of season vs. Cal
Oregon State has done some good things in the first two weeks of the Pac-12 season, but the Beavers have lost both games.
Coach Jonathan Smith chooses to look on the bright side as his team prepares to play California (0-1) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, at Reser Stadium.
"I appreciate the heart and competitiveness of this team," he said after last weekend's 27-21 loss at Washington. "We didn't play well enough to win, but I know we competed 'til the end."
The Beavers might be a longshot to win the Pac-12 North Division, given that four games remain and they already trail Oregon by two games. But they can still have a winning season and maybe try to make a bowl game (assuming bowl games will be played).
That point wasn't lost on junior running back Jermar Jefferson, who has been a bright spot through two games with 253 yards rushing and four scores.
"We still have our energy, we can't get down on ourselves, we still have multiple games," Jefferson said.
Clearly some things need to change.
Smith talked during training camp about the offense and defense playing complementary football. Well, it hasn't happened.
The defense has given up 496 yards rushing (6.1 yards/carry) in two games. OSU had made great strides in stopping the run in 2019 after being awful at it in 2018.
Despite sporting Hamilcar Rashed Jr., the Beavers have been shut out in the sack department through two games. The likes of linebacker Omar Speights and safety Jaydon Grant have been impressive, but Rashed Jr. needs to start wreaking some havoc.
The Beavers gave up only three points in the second half against UW; the problem was the offense produced none.
Although bent on running the ball against the Huskies, featuring Jefferson and B.J. Baylor, QB Tristan Gebbia went a pedestrian 11 of 24 for 85 yards. The Beavers went 4 of 12 on third-down conversions against UW, and 1 of 3 on fourth downs.
Then again, the third- or fourth-down statistics could have been better, had the Pac-12 officiating crew made the right spots on two Jefferson runs near the UW goal line in the third quarter. The league, by the way, said a review of the disputed fourth-down spot — TV replays clearly showed Jefferson made the first down, and officials spotted the ball short — showed there wasn't conclusive evidence to overturn the call.
Smith has seen some good things from his team.
"You gotta continue to work and improve," he said. "We got a lot of good players on this team, and we got an opportunity to win some games, and the only way to do that is go back to work and improve."
Cal had a game canceled against Washington because of COVID-19 positive tests on the team, and then played a makeshift game against UCLA last Sunday when the teams' original opponents had to back out of weekend games because of positive COVID-19 tests.
The Bears played poorly with only a few days to game-plan for the Bruins. (Then again, UCLA had the same amount of preparation time). The Bruins won 34-10, as Cal managed only 54 yards rushing on 28 attempts (1.9 yards/carry), QB Chase Garbers went 18 of 33 for 122 yards and an interception, UCLA QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw three TD passes and the Bruin running game produced 244 yards on 54 carries (4.5 yards/carry).
So, based off one game, the Beavers' defense might be well-suited to stop the Bears, and Jefferson and teammates might be well-equipped to do some damage against the Cal defense.
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.