Mike Riley breaks down Beavers' disappointing Utah game
Mike Riley spent a good portion of his Sunday watching video of Oregon State's 27-8 loss at Utah, and it wasn't a pretty sight.
'Halloween: The Resurrection' would have been more cheerful.
'It was worse than the game,' OSU's 11th-year head coach said. 'I'm very disappointed, particularly in our start of the game.
'(The Utes) took it to us right off the bat. In the second half, we played a lot of good defense, but it was 30 minutes and 24 points too late.'
How could a Utah team that was 0-4 in Pac-12 play so dominate the Beavers?
A couple of thoughts:
• Utah had committed 14 turnovers in losses to Washington, Arizona State and California. The Utes had one giveaway against Oregon State and got four takeaways.
• The Utes - who own solid non-conference road wins over Brigham Young (54-10) and Pittsburgh (26-14) - had trailed Washington, USC and Arizona State all 10-7 at halftime. In the second halves of those games, the Huskies, Trojans and Sun Devils found ways to win.
Had the Beavers not discombobulated in the second quarter and gone into intermission with the score close at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Saturday's game could have been a different story. Outside of quicksilver tailback John White IV - who rushed for 161 of his 205 yards in the first half - the Utes don't have a lot of offense.
After securing a 24-0 halftime lead, Utah managed two first downs and 52 yards total offense. But the Utes were ahead rather than playing from behind. The big cushion was more than enough against an OSU offense that netted only 32 yards rushing.
Let's let the coach address some other questions Beaver Nation - and your faithful scribe - have following Saturday's performance:
• Why was Utah's defense so successful?
'We helped them by dropping too many balls, but they are good defensively - as good as there is in the league. We let them have momentum with our poor start, and they started teeing off in the second half.'
• Markus Wheaton had two of those two drops, one that would have gone for a 46-yard touchdown play in the first quarter.
'That was disappointing. It might have changed the game right off the bat."
• Did you abandon the run game too early?
'We knew it was going to be tough running between the tackles. We didn't create many holes. Some of our best runs were fly sweeps and reverses. We gained 60 yards on those plays. We were down 24-0 at halftime, and we were sort of in catch-up mode. We need to run the ball more, I will say that.'
• Malcolm Agnew didn't have many holes to run through in the first half, carrying eight times for 26 yards. He played one play in the second half - fumbling at the goal line, his third lost fumble in the four games he has played this season. Is that why he was on the sidelines so much?
'We really did want to mix in Terron Ward. Malcolm dropped a third-down pass. It surprises me about him. He fumbled twice - one he got back. Malcolm is going to be a really good player for us, but right now, it's a little bit hard to know what we're going to get from him.'
• You had five false-start penalties. Why?
'Those are killers, especially against a good defense - putting yourself in a hole. Part of was (crowd) noise, and part of it was not having poise when they stem (shift) just before the snap.'
• Sean Mannion got sacked six times and just seemed out of sorts at times. How did he play?
'He made a couple of bad decisions, but he made some great plays, and he was under total duress from Utah's pass rush. Had we protected him a little better, he might have had another major night.'
• Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said about OSU's defense after the game, 'I'm surprised Oregon State didn't load the box. They stayed in the base stuff they've been playing all season long.' Did you?
'In the first half, it wasn't about loading the box, it was about missing tackles and not being sharp. We just didn't make plays. They didn't do much after the first half.'
• The biggest play was probably White's 60-yard burst down the sideline in the final minute of the second quarter to set up the final Utah touchdown when it seemed the Utes were content to run out the clock.
'Ridiculous. We should have stopped it for a five-yard gain.'
• After you scored your touchdown to get to within 24-6, you burned a timeout. Didn't you know you were going to go for the 2-point conversion?
'We didn't want to have to use a timeout, but we had too many guys on the field. (The kick conversion team) was out there before everybody got my communication.'
• Whose fault was the poor first half? Players? Coaches?
'It's all our responsibility to be ready. It's one of those intangible things. They made the plays and we didn't.'
• Next comes Stanford into Corvallis Saturday, a team clicking on all cylinders. What's your mindset going into that game?
'I'm excited about trying to get back to playing good football. It's going to take a great game to beat (the Cardinal). We have a lot of improvement to do. I like this team. I didn't like our game (Saturday), but this is another opportunity to show what we can do. This will be very good for our team.'