Oregon State Disappoints in Palo Alto: What We've Learned
I was hoping, as I'm sure most Beaver fans were, that this new season would allow Oregon State to break the habit of getting off to a slow start.
With the Beavers' opening day game against the historically bottom-dwelling Stanford Cardinal, I thought for sure that that habit would be broken.
Lets just say old habits die hard.
The Beavers entered the game without hard-hitting Al Afalava and outstanding guard Jeremy Perry.
On a night that featured some very shoddy play by both teams, Oregon State went on to lose, 36-28, due to various miscues by the Beaver offense.
Though many would look at a loss to Stanford as a complete failure, there were many questions answered by the Beavers that should bring relief to Beaver faithful.
One of the biggest questions going into this season was how they would cope with losing all their starters in the front seven.
Simply looking at the box score, one would see that the Cardinal were able to post over 200 yards rushing. This is slightly misleading due to the fact that three runs were over 40 yards. Other than giving up the big play once in a while, the front seven seems to be consistent at stopping the run.
Victor Butler had a great first game as a starter, keeping pressure on Tavita Pritchard, as well as contributing to stopping the run. He and Slade Norris each had a sack and hurried the quarterback consistently throughout the night.
The secondary was rarely challenged by the Cardinal passing game. When it was, it did not break, only giving up 91 yards through the air, most of which came when receivers were covered by linebackers.
The linebacking corps seems quicker than last season's but not as strong, as Stanford's Tony Gerhart was able to break out of tackles for big gains.
Special teams play was a bright spot in this game as Alexis Serna's successor, Justin Kahut, made both field goals attempted and was great on kickoffs.
Yvenson Bernard's replacement, however, didn't please as much as one would like. Starter Ryan McCants was only able to gain 11 yards on four carries.
The electrifying Rodgers brothers had a satisfactory night, combining for 103 yards rushing with a 5.4 YPC average. James was also able to add 40 yards on the receiving end of the ball.
The brightest part of the game was the progression I saw from Lyle Moevao. Although he threw two interceptions (one tipped), he also managed to sustain great drives down the field.
Moevao managed six drives of over 50 yards and three over 70, including a two-minute drill before the half that went 80 yards for a touchdown.
He also showed some inexperience though, throwing behind McCants for a safety and rushing a throw to Stroughter that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Moevao found a safety blanket in Shane Morales. The two hooked up for 13 receptions for over 150 yards and one touchdown, which capped off an 80-yard drive. Moevao threw to him in key situations, showing his confidence in Morales as a possession receiver.
Sammie Stroughter also made an impressive return as he and Moevao connected on 12 passes for 157 yards, two touchdowns, and a 13 YPC average.
Although the score may show a disappointing upset, the Beavers showed great maturity and poise in holding Stanford under 100 yards passing, as well as with Moevao being able to manage drives and lead an explosive offense.
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