Beavers' offense comes up empty
CORVALLIS — Oregon State knew it would be facing a good Washington defense when the teams squared off Friday night at Reser Stadium.
The Beavers didn't realize, however, that they'd be making the Huskies appear like the second coming of the 1985 Chicago Bears.
Washington's 'D' was the playground bully and the OSU offense the bloodied sissy in the Huskies' 19-7 victory, their eighth straight over the Beavers.
"Offensively, we just got dominated," Oregon State coach Jonathan Smith said. "I don't know how else you can say it. Their physicality at the line of scrimmage. ... We just got nothing going, which was difficult to swallow. (The OSU offense) had been playing at a high level, but we ran into a defense that shut us down."
Oregon State managed six first downs and 119 yards total offense, but — and this isn't a misprint — no first downs and eight yards after halftime. OSU's second-half offense consisted of five three-and-outs.
This from an offense that came in averaging 33.6 points per game and had piled up 56 at Arizona a week earlier. The Beavers' only points Friday night came on a 36-yard interception return in the third quarter by nickel back Jaydon Grant. Punter Daniel Rodriguez was called upon 10 times.
"That's shocking," said OSU quarterback Jake Luton, who completed 19 of 28 passes but for only 88 yards. "Definitely very frustrating, very disappointing and not anywhere close to our best performance."
A victory could have put Oregon State (4-5 overall, 3-3 in Pac-12 play) within one win of bowl contention. Now the Beavers must win at least two of the final three regular-season games — Arizona State at home next Saturday, followed by road dates against Washington State and Oregon.
"To get six (wins), you have to get five," Smith said. "We're all about the five right now."
There wasn't nearly enough offense to get that done Friday night.
Oregon State rushed for only 65 yards, minus 34 from four sacks of Luton, who was harassed by the Huskies' pressure all night. Luton didn't have time to throw downfield, so every pass attempt was a short one. Aside from a 21-yard pass to Isaiah Hodgins, Luton averaged 3.2 yards on his other 18 completions.
"They had a good (defensive) plan," Luton said. "They beat us in all phases of 'us vs. them.' It was a collection of the whole deal."
"They had our number," Smith said. "We had some opportunities to win some one-on-ones, and we didn't do that — whether it was a receiver on a DB or a left guard on a D-lineman — and it showed up."
After its best collective performance of the season against Arizona, Oregon State's offensive line had its worst showing against Washington (6-4, 3-4).
"We lost the the battle up front, plain and simple," senior tackle Blake Brandel said. "It was frustrating. I don't think we executed well up front. Nobody did. If you can't get that going, you can't get much else going."
Washington's offensive numbers were decent — 20 first downs, 245 yards rushing, 420 yards total offense. But Oregon State's defense was up to the occasion. Salvon Ahmed carried 25 times for 174 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yarder, but UW quarterback Jacob Eason completed only 16 of 33 passes for 175 yards and no touchdowns.
"Phenomenal performance by the defense," Luton said. "They were outstanding. They gave us every opportunity to win the game, and we didn't do it.
"Washington is a really good team, on defense but offensively as well. For our defense to play as well as they did ... they did a great job. We just didn't hold up our end."
True freshman linebacker Omar Speights was all over the field, registering 18 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Avery Roberts made a career-high 11 tackles. Safety Shawn Wilson had eight tackles, a couple of the bone-crushing variety.
"The guys played physical," Smith said. "We tackled better. The line of scrimmage was better. We contested in the secondary better. We got a couple of picks.
"I appreciate our defensive effort. Those guys came to play. There are some positives to gain confidence from, but a ton to clean up (offensively)."
Smith hung his defense out to dry a couple of times with gambles that didn't pay off Friday night.
The first came with Washington leading 10-0 inside the final minute of the second quarter. Oregon State went for it on fourth-and-4 from its 45. Under pressure, Luton's pass was intercepted by former West Linn High standout Elijah Molden and returned to the OSU 41. The Huskies moved to the Beavers' 11, but Peyton Henry's 28-yard field-goal attempt missed on the final play of the half.
"Getting close to that 50-yard line, we're going to err on (the side of) being aggressive," Smith explained. "We just wanted to get a spark for the offense."
There's a balance between aggressive and smart coaching. Oregon State's offense had done virtually nothing, so chances of converting the fourth down weren't great. The OSU defense had kept Washington's offense in check through the first half. A punt would have put the Huskies deep in their territory and almost assured OSU would go into halftime still in the game. The fourth-down failure could have resulted in a 17-0 deficit at the break. The Beavers were fortunate it didn't.
Then the Beavers went for an onside kick to open the third quarter. It one-hopped to Washington's Alex Cook at the UW 45. With the short field, the Huskies drove to the OSU 16 and settled for a 33-yard Henry field goal and a 13-0 advantage.
"The kickoff wasn't (well-)executed," Smith said. "I didn't know how many opportunities we were going to have to kick off. We tried to shoot our bullet then."
It would have been more prudent to kick the ball deep, force a three-and-out — the Huskies had three of them — and see if the offense could get rolling.
"We wanted to run the ball coming out of halftime," Smith said.
The Beavers wound up with minus-10 yards on the ground through the second half.
Even after Grant jumped a sideline route for his pick-six to cut Washington's lead to 13-7 midway through the third quarter, the Beavers never found a spark offensively.
Washington's defense had a lot to do with that.
"They were really good," Smith said. "Give them credit."
NOTES — Oregon State's home finale against Arizona State next Saturday is expected to kick off at 1:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. ... Hodgins caught a season-low four passes for 33 yards, and none in the second half. ... OSU was without linebacker Shemar Smith (knee) and receivers Tyjon Lindsey (ribs) and Kolby Taylor (hamstring). ... Henry made only 2 of 4 field-goal tries, missing from 28 and 40 yards. He came into the game 15 for 15 this season.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Washington 3 7 9 0 — 19
Oregon State 0 0 7 0 — 7
UW — Peyton Henry 47 FG 1:54
UW — Salvon Ahmed 6 run (Henry kick) 1:48
UW — Henry 33 FG 9:18
OSU — Jaydon Grant 36 interception return (Everett Hayes kick) 7:01
UW — Ahmed 60 run (pass failed) 2:34
Att. — 34,244
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