This game started innocently enough, as both teams exchanged three-and-outs, and then the Card appeared to be have picked up where they left off last week against the Sun Devils, as they strung together 10 plays to put themselves at the Beaver 28. Not confident in Michael Sgroi's ability to hit a 46-yard FG into the wind, Buddy Teevens decided to go for it on a 4th and 9. Stanford would not convert however as Chris Lewis' pass was off the mark, and that started a trend that would continue for the rest of the afternoon.
Fired up after that stop, Oregon State went to work on offense. Alternating the run and pass, the Beavers were ripping off seven and eight yards a play before Steven Jackson broke off a 40-yard run that set up the games first TD. On 1st and goal, Derek Anderson faked an inside hand-off and hit his TE by the same initials (Tim Euhus), who was left unattended for the easy score.
Again the teams exchanged three-and-outs, but this time OSU was punting deep in their own territory. The kick was short and Luke Powell took it off the hop and scooted down the sideline before he was tripped up at the Beaver 27. Unable to move into the redzone and nearly coughing up the ball on the 3rd down carry, Stanford sent out Sgroi on 4th down to make sure they came away with three. The kick was good but this would be the only points the Cardinal would post in the game.
Oregon State again started deep on their side of the field but needed only seven plays to go 90 yards and punch in their second touchdown of the first quarter. Eight minutes later the Beavers would score their third touchdown of the half on a 53-yard pass to Mike Hass, his second consecutive 50-yard TD reception.
In between these bombs Stanford gained nearly half of its total offensive output for the entire game on consecutive 21-yard pass plays to Greg Camarillo and Mark Bradford. Penalties and sacks made the two plays obsolete though, and sent the Card further down the spiral.
But before Hass hauled in his second long ball touchdown, Stanford was trailing just 14-3. Oregon State took possession after Stanford's aforementioned stalled drive, but redshirt junior linebacker Jared Newberry snagged an interception deep in Cardinal territory and ran it out 14 yards. There was a sniff of momentum for the good guys, but that was undone as fast as it had begun when Lewis was intercepted on a high-arching attempt 40 yards down field attempted for Powell. OSU's 6'4" freshman cornerback Brandon Browner went up and used his 10-inch height advantage and athleticism to make a spectacular snag. Two plays later the Beaver offense launched that second rocket to Hass and locked up the momentum for the remainder of the game.
"Emotionally you don't want to trade turnovers," said Teevens after the game. "We tried to take our shot and they came up with it."
After his 3rd touchdown pass, Derek Anderson was finding it too easy to pick apart the Cardinal secondary as he had all day to throw. Whenever the defense did force OSU to punt, the offense would find itself in what seemed like an unending string of 3rd and 13 situations.
With three minutes to go before half time, Steven Jackson found paydirt from three yards out to give the Beavers a 28-3 lead. Seemingly content to go into the locker rooms with the score as such, Stanford ran a few conservative plays and took some time off the clock. Unable to pick up a 1st down, however, the Card were forced to punt with 28 seconds left. Eric Johnson slipped after receiving the snap and was run over by a wall of Beavers as he tried to get up and get a kick off. After a 14-yard pass to James Newson, it seemed inevitable that the Beavers were going to get a gift touchdown and put this game out of reach. Three incompletions later, they had to settle for a field goal and "only" a 28-point halftime lead.
The defense came back from the locker room and held OSU to start the second half, but the offense once again could do nothing to move the ball as they went incomplete, incomplete and a sack for a loss of eight. That sort of series was far too familiar for Stanford, who was forced to abandon any type of running game, leaving the work-in-progress passing game to fend for itself.
Throughout the 3rd quarter, the defense stood its ground, not allowing the Beavers to move the ball and eliminating the breakdowns in deep coverage. Halfway through the period, Teevens decided to let Trent Edwards run the show, hoping to spark some sort of life into the offense. On his very first play, Edwards ran the option to the short side and was leveled by a Beaver linebacker. It was a fitting sight to say the least.
Not faring any better than Lewis, Edwards scuffled his way through another three-and-out, giving way to the punt team. On the Beavers' next possession, Amon Gordon recovered a fumble by a scrambling Derek Anderson, giving the Card its best field position since the Powell punt return that set up the field goal. The offense would not take advantage, stalling on the Beaver 31 and turning the ball over on downs. That was just about the last thing the defense wanted to see, but credit them for keeping OSU off the board for the remainder of the quarter.
A nil-nil draw of the 3rd quarter was just about the only thing that looked even on the day. With the Stanford offense continuing to struggle and the defense starting to wear down, Mike Riley left his starters in the game to pour on 10 more points in the final period of play. And just for good measure, the Beaver defense chipped in with two points of their own after Stanford recovered a fumble at their own one-yardline and David Marerro was tackled in the end zone on the next play.
When you look at the final stats, this one was not as close as the score would indicate, and that is really saying something when you lose by 40. OSU out gained the Card 663-133, despite running only 15 more plays than Stanford. The breakdowns on offense occurred at every level, starting with the quarterbacks, who were consistently behind the receivers and off target. Even when the pass was on the money, those cold hands were not cradling the ball.
Early rushing attempts were thwarted by the offensive line's inability to open any holes or hold their blocks long enough to spring a Cardinal rusher to the outside. Finally, the play calling was not diverse enough to make an honest attempt at fooling the OSU defense. It seemed as though the same patterns were being run time and time again despite the lack of success.
"We had our opportunities to move the ball down the field and keep them off the field, but we didn't convert on them," comments head coach Buddy Teevens on the four quarters of futility.
On the other side of the ball, the defense made some early mistakes and by the time they had corrected them it was much too late with the game was out of reach. Still, missed tackles were plaguing the entire squad throughout. This was the most lopsided game I can remember, and you have to hope this was an aberration. It wont get any easier next week against a kal team that dismantled Washington in a similar manner.
"We still have two games left and will kick, scratch and fight for everything we can in those games," says redshirt junior linebacker David Bergeron. "It's a matter of execution; it's a matter of concentration. We'll go back to the drawing board and hopefully come out better against Cal."
Stats and Notes
- Though he came into the game with a bum ankle, fifth-year senior punter Eric Johnson did a fantastic job with the punts he did get off. He knocked the wet ball an average of 43.2 yards, and he only allowed an average return of 3.7 yards on 10 of those boots.
- The running game was the key that unlocked Stanford's best offensive performance a week ago against Arizona State, but the ground game was completely impotent in Corvallis. J.R. Lemon netted just 12 positive yards on 10 carries Saturday. Kenneth Tolon picked up just eight yards on six carries. Perhaps one brief ray of sunshine and hope was the job that true freshman David Marrero managed in the 4th quarter. He picked up 22 yards on seven carries, including three runs that helped bring the ball down to OSU's one-yardline late in the final period. He unfortunately fumbled the ball just short of the goalline and ended Stanford's best offensive drive of the second half.
- Fumbling the football has been something Stanford has done an excellent job of controlling this year. Prior to that lost fumble by Marrero, the Cardinal ballcarriers had lost just one fumble (at Oregon) in the previous four games.
- Speaking of fumbles, Oshiomogho Atogwe forced his sixth fumble of the season in the game, which leads the Pac-10. Atogwe also logged a career high of 14 tackles in this game, which marks his fourth tackling day in double figures this season.
- No surprise that Mark Bradford had the biggest receiving day for Stanford. Oregon State has big and physical defensive backs that employ press coverage and jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Though just a freshman, Bradford may be the best on this Stanford team at getting off press coverage, which is a facet of his game that eludes almost all fans. He led the team in Corvallis with catches (five), yards (65) and long reception (33 yards).
- Starting center Drew Caylor was knocked out of the game with an apparent knee injury early in the going, which forced redshirt freshman and former walk-on Tim Mattran into his first meaningful college snaps. Caylor later returned, but his health will be something to watch this week. The scant depth on this offensive line remains a house of horrors, no matter how old the story may be.
- The Cardinal are now 4-5 on the season and need wins in both their final games to reach bowl eligibility. The drama for these games may be high on both sidelines at Stanford Stadium, though, with our opponents also needing wins. kal comes in 6-6 and have their postseason prospects hanging on Big Game's outcome. Notre Dame is 4-6 and still cling to hopes that they can earn a bowl berth with a 6-6 finish that requires a win at The Farm. This manner of opponent motivation is nothing new for Stanford, however; both UCLA and Oregon State battled the Card with six-win records coming into the game.
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