With Saturday's 52-23 loss to Washington State, the Oregon State Beavers fall to 1-3 on the season. OSU has a bye week this week and will host Washington on September 30.
We look at three things we learned from last night's game, two questions we have moving forward, and give one bold prediction about the rest of the season.
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Three things we learned from OSU's loss
1. This is another rebuilding year
Year three of the Gary Andersen era was supposed to be the season that Oregon State turned the ship and got things on the right track. In 2015, the 2-10 Beavers had their worst season since the 1996 Jerry Pettibone coached 2-9 team. Last season's team did not have high expectations, but the Beavers finished the season on a high note by winning two straight Pac-12 games, including the all important Civil War win. You have to go a while back to find the last time Oregon State had four consecutive losing seasons (1995-1998). Pettibone's final two seasons at OSU were abysmal, and Mike Riley's first two seasons at OSU were three and five win teams. The Beavers are on a collision course for a fourth straight season below .500. Maybe 2018 is the season that the Beavers turn it around, but it certainly isn't this season. Saturday's loss was another blowout that it is "a tough spot for Beaver Nation."
2. We saw vintage Ryan Nall
Outside of Nall's 75 yard touchdown run against Colorado State in week zero, he has had a struggle of a season. He is a home run hitter of a back, but the Beavers' run game was struggling coming into the WSU game. Nall got things back on track as he ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries on Saturday. Through four games this season, he has 53 rushing attempts for 323 yards and four touchdowns. That averages to just 13 carries per game, and on this pace, Nall is borderline to reach 1,000 rushing yards this season. Based on last night's game though, Nall ran with more purpose than what we've seen early this season, so that is a great sign given everything going on with OSU's offense. The Beavers need to feed the wrecking Nall.
3. Oregon State's pass rush has a pulse
The Beavers went three games without recording a sack but had three against the Cougars. Shemar Smith got the first sack of the season, Austin Hudson and Baker Pritchard combined on the second sack, and Kalani Vakameilalo brought down Falk for the third sack. While it was nice to see the sacks, Oregon State still struggled to get a consistent pass rush, and Bright Ugwoegbu is not doing anything in the backfield. The only stats he recorded on Saturday were two solo tackles. The Beavs' pass rush has a pulse, but it's still far, far from where it needs to be.
Two questions moving forward
1. What will OSU do with the quarterback spot the rest of the season?
According to Jake Luton's father, Judd, the Beavers' starting quarterback "probably" has a thoracic spine fracture, which is obviously no joke and has a recovery time of at least a few months. I'm not doctor and we will see what information comes out about Luton this week, but it is a very serious situation. I am just very glad to see Jake tweet, "Thank you everyone for the kind messages and support. I'll be back! #GoBeavs." So what does Oregon State do moving forward? Darell Garretson will be the QB1 moving forward, but what will OSU do with Conor Blount and Aidan Willard? In a perfect world, Garretson would lead the way the rest of the season and keep Blount and Willard's redshirts on. It will be interesting to see.
2. What adjustments will be made in the next two weeks?
Gary Andersen needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat. This squad needs their leader to move the team in a new direction and wipe the slate clean. If there is any coordinator changes, you'd imagine that the firings would be done on a bye week, and the Beavers have two of them - this week and the week after the Colorado game. I don't think there will be any coordinator changes, but Beaver fans are certainly calling for them. The OSU offense needs a makeover with Garretson now as the starting quarterback. The defense obviously has a lot of holes that need worked on.
One Bold Prediction
Oregon State will win three of their final five games
Yes, this is a bold prediction given the product Oregon State has put on the field this season. The schedule doesn't get any easier after the WSU game. In fact, it gets much harder. OSU faces Washington at the end of the month, travels to national championship contender USC on October 7, and then hosts reigning Pac-12 South champs Colorado on October 14. However, the final six games, I would argue, are winnable games if Oregon State improves.
October 26, vs Stanford: At home on a Thursday night. Stanford is a beatable team.
November 4, @ Cal: The Beavers beat Cal last year, but they are much improved. Tough game but could be won. Cal has already beaten North Carolina and Ole Miss this season.
November 11, @ Arizona: Jury is still out on Arizona. Beavs smoked them last season.
November 18, vs Arizona State: 1-2 team that barely beat New Mexico State and lost to San Diego State and Texas Tech. Senior night in Reser. Winnable game.
November 15, @ Oregon: The Ducks are off to a good start this season, but it's the Civil War. Winning back-to-back Civil Wars would be huge for OSU.
The Beavs could win three of these games, but it's also very possible they lose all five.