Saturday, November 29, 2008


Goddammit. Oregon State dropped the first Civil War game in Corvallis since 1996, and it happened to be when the Rose Bowl was on the line. My frustration knows no bounds right now. So many things went wrong.

Sean Canfield should have been starting. He's a better QB than Lyle Moevao, pure and simple. While Moevao had decent raw stats, he threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. Niether of which were great plays by the defense, merely terrible throws by the QB. Moevao's throws were off all night. The recievers were trying their best to make adjustments, but less than a quarter of the passes were in the right spot. Moevao walked into a couple sacks, and constantly missed the open checkdowns.

Without Jacquizz Rodgers, the offense panicked, and went back to that detestable shotgun set. This took the run completely out of the picture, leading to the 60 passing plays, against the 13 runs by running backs. The play calling got worse in the red zone, two red zone opportunities were squandered in the first half when the offense got too cute, and did things like call no back formations and try the fly sweep twice in a row. This caused OSU to come away with 3 points when they should have had 14.

The fly sweep is a fine play. It's the foundation of OSU's offense, however, it is not a red zone play. The whole idea is to put the ball into the hands of Rodgers, Stroughter, or Johnson, have them beat the defense to the corner, and outrun people. OSU made several uncharacteristic mistakes using this play. They ran it with multiple players split wide, and they ran it in the Red Zone. Both these situations create the same flaw. It puts defenders closer to the sideline than the ball carrier. It's one thing to try a play against the grain to try and catch defenders off guard, it's another entirely to do it repeatedly.

Outside of the Red Zone, they didn't use the fly sweep motion enough. Because of the threat of the play, and the visible buildup of the motion, it warps defenses outside of the red zone. Even if the motion man doesn't get the ball, it opens up the pass downfield, and opens up runs up the middle. But OSU hardly ran the motion.

Ryan McCant's didn't get very many carries, and on his best run of the night, an 11 yard run in the 4th quarter, he fumbled. McCant's didn't see too many carries the whole season, because Jacquizz has been a beast. I believe in using a star back heavily, but I also think you need to work the backups into it, for familiarity's sake. It helps cut down on fumbles, and breeds confidence.

On defense, they gave up almost 700 yards. There's a lot of problems.

Problem number one. TACKLING. The ugly beast that rose it's head against Stanford and Penn State showed up again. Too many plays were created by missed tackles. The linebackers were just awful, constantly out of position, and arm tackling too often. The Corners missed several tackles too.

The defensive ends broke containment on almost every play. Especially in a misdirection offense like Oregon's, the key to playing DE against that offense is to never let a player involved in a handoff to get outside of you. especially if you think the play is going away from you. The QB hands off to the running back and runs at you, make sure he doesn't have the ball before you start chasing the running back.

Schematically, Oregon runs about 12 different plays, which is increased based on run pass options, and read options. Oregon's shotgun offense has the same limitations as the offense OSU ran. Based on the alignment of the running back, there are some gaps that the running back can't get to off the first cut. The weakside B, C, and D gaps are out. This brings us back to containment. There are two ways to vary pressure on an offense, blitzes and stunts. OSU ran a lot of stunts, which work well against a conventional offense, however, a read option offense is succeptable to blitzes, but renders stunts useless. All a DE stunt does is automatically blow containment, and open up those gaps that were out before. One player can prevent the whole weakside from being used, which allows you to focus on the strongside. OSU failed to do this, and the same play blew them up, time and again.

The referees were par for the course for the Pac 10, which is to say, God Awful. The review official for the fumble returned for the touchdown in the 3rd quarter should be fired. There is no excuse for that kind of incompetence when you have time to look, rewind, and look again at a call. None of the refs on the field have any clue what pass interferance is. Combined with some terrible spots for the ball, and I have a renewed hatred for the officials of the Pac 10.

All in all, it was a poorly played game. However, I would like to take a moment to thank the Beavers for playing as well as they have thus far this season. No one expected it outside of Corvallis. Good job.

It's also worth noting that the Rose Bowl dream is not over for OSU. Because of the Ducks loss to Cal, if USC loses to UCLA, Oregon State has the tiebreaker in a three way tie too. So, GO BRUINS!

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