Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen met with the media on Monday afternoon to discuss the Beavers' 42-7 loss to Washington, the upcoming road matchup with USC, and much more.
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Looking at the final game box score doesn't tell the whole story of Oregon State's 35 point loss to the hands of the powerhouse Washington Huskies.
The Beavers, who were outmatched on paper on all aspects of the game, hung in very tight in the first half as they trailed just 7-0 at halftime.
Andersen watched the game film and dissected the good and the bad from the loss.
"On defense, we did a nice job of getting ourselves in positions to get out of drives and made plays for the most part to get out of those drives," Andersen said about OSU's first half. "In the second half on defense, we weren't able to get out out those drives for a number of reasons.
"I was proud of the defense for the most part, especially in that first half. That's the best first half we've played for a long time around here. It didn't continue, so as coaches and players, we need to get better."
There was no "tale of two halves" for the offense though. They had very, very little success (which is putting it nicely) moving the ball throughout the first three quarters, and the Beavers finally put points on the board in the fourth - but it was against UW's second team defense.
"On the offensive side of the ball, it was just the inability to make plays," Andersen continued. "[Washington is] a very talented defense, and the more you watch them, they're extremely talented and good at what they do. That being said, there were some opportunities for us to move the football. We had numerous drops, opportunities to make some plays out there that weren't made. Against that team, you have to be able to make those plays. There has to be the ability to have a threat to throw the ball down the field to loosen up those run gaps a little bit."
A bright spot in the game was Oregon State's special teams, which shut down Dante Pettis in the punt return game.
"I thought special teams was a huge bright spot. In kickoff team, there weren't too many opportunities, but they took advantage of those, which was great to see. In the punt game, we basically asked Nick [Porebski] to take on Pettis one-on-one, and he was able to do that.
Prepping for USC
On Monday, Oregon State spent time breaking down USC's film, the coaches had a meeting with the players in the morning, and are having a walkthrough to introduce the game plan for Saturday.
USC is coming off of a close road loss to Washington State, so they will be looking for a huge bounceback win against the struggling OSU Beavers.
"What I see on film is what you'd expect - a very gifted team, very athletic," Andersen said about USC. "There are not a bunch of weakness. They have a very talented quarterback, and they're a team that you have to play very sound on both sides.
"They're what you'd expect from 'SC. They're a team that's where they're at for a reason. They've played very well. They played very tough at Washington State in a hectic environment in a big time college football game. They'll be excited to play again I'm sure."
Brutal stretch of games: @ WSU, vs UW, @ USC
In three consecutive games, Oregon State has had matchups with the top three top teams in the Pac-12. The current AP Top 25 has Washington at No. 6, Washington State at No. 11, and USC at No. 14.
Andersen was asked if he's ever had such a brutal stretch of consecutive games like this in his career.
"I don't think so," he said. "I don't know for sure. I don't believe that's ever happened [to me]. We ran across some pretty good teams at Wisconsin, but I don't know if there were three of them in a row that were ranked this high. It's a challenging part of the schedule - there's no doubt about that. That's what you get when you play in the Pac-12. You've gotta step up and fight every week."
The quarterbacks are pretty darn good too in Luke Falk, Jake Browning, and Sam Darnold. Has Andersen ever faced a trio in consecutive games as talented as those guys?
"Again, probably not," he answered. "Not back-to-back-to-back like that. They're three guys that I'm sure will be playing on Sundays or at least be on those rosters. We're fighting our tails off to catch some of these people."
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Darnold provides a big test
The Oregon State secondary has struggled mightily this season as they miss senior leaders from last year's team in Devin Chappell and Treston Decoud. This season, OSU is allowing three touchdown passes and 288 yards per game.
The test doesn't get much easier this weekend in Darnold. He's struggled some this season, but he's still a future NFL starting quarterback.
"He's a very good athlete. He can get himself out of trouble," Andersen said. "He's a big kid, hard to sack. He can [make all of the throws]. He has a good, quick release. He'll throw some really tight balls into the middle of the field, where not a lot of guys will spin that ball in there. He's very confident in his arm, so he's a very well-rounded quarterback from top to bottom."
Garretson looking for bounceback week
Darell Garretson started his first game of the season and put up a below average performance, although his receivers were dropping passes and the coaching staff didn't utilize Garretson in the run game.
He finished 11-of-22 for 74 yards.
"As coaches, we need to put together a plan that best fits him and helps get him where he needs to be," said Andersen. "No one is going to want to play better than Darell [does]. I'd like to see him get the ball to those receivers. I'd like to see us functionally move the ball down the field and score some points. That's been a struggle for us all year, regardless of who's been at quarterback or anywhere."
Fresh set of eyes?
Andersen was asked if he considered bringing in a "fresh set of eyes" to help as an offensive consultant. It's honestly a good idea as the offense has been bad this season, but Andersen shot the idea down.
"I haven't really even thought about it, to be honest with you," he said. "I haven't thought about that."
The Hodgins' saga continues...
In Andersen's post-game interview on Saturday night, he was asked why wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins did not see the field after starting the first four games of the season and led the team in receiving yards.
Andersen said that it was not his decision and commented on this situation on Monday.
"I'm a big believer in position control," he stated. "Those guys know where they're at. They [position coaches] are going to put them in a position to be in the game when they need to be in the football game.
You'll have to ask [Kevin McGiven] or Jason [Phillips] to see what that situation was. Coach Phillips is a veteran coach; he's going to play that he thought was going to give us an opportunity to win that game on that day. That's the way it's always been. I've never had problems with my coaches making those decisions. If I think it's a glaring scenario or issue that's there - we've talked about it in-house a little bit, and those are our in-house discussions. On that day, that's what coach Phillips believes was best for the Beavs."
No official update on Nall and Pierce as of Monday
Running backs Ryan Nall and Artavis Pierce had injuries on Saturday, but they are not believed to be serious. Andersen, again, would not comment on their status.
"I have not seen an injury report yet that's validated as far as what they're going to be for the week," he said. "You guys [the media] will get your information whenever you get it on Tuesday. We'll see where those two kids sit."