From a Sunday conversation with coach Mike Riley after Oregon State's 29-14 victory over Portland State to open the 2014 season
Riley breaks down the Beavers' performance this way:
"There was some good football. I was impressed with the defense the second half. We did a much better job of taking away what they had hurt us with. Very sound. We saw every double move, double pass, in the book, and we just played smart and opportunistic.
"Special teams were pretty darn solid. We had lots of new kids on coverage and return teams and they did well. The specialists were pretty good.
"Offensively, we made some good plays and played lots of very average football. We have to do a lot better in the red zone. That game would have been much different if we had scored touchdowns instead of field goals. I was pretty disappointed with that and all the penalties. Just unacceptable. But we had pretty good run blocking and some nice pass protection."
The OSU defense let Portland State backup quarterback Paris Penn get loose for a pair of long runs -- 58 yards for a touchdown on a QB draw and 35 yards on a scramble -- in the first half. Other than that, the Vikings managed 122 yards total offense the entire game. They were 0 for 9 on third-down conversions.
"We adjusted well to (Penn) and did a thorough job in everything else throughout the day," Riley said.
Pass coverage was superb. The Vikings were 10 for 27 passing for 83 yards.
"(Cornerback) Steven Nelson had a really big game," Riley said. "The linebackers all played well. Up front, (ends) Lavonte Barnett and Dylan Wynn had good games."
Oregon State's offensive numbers were good -- 505 yards total offense, 177 yards rushing and 25 first downs. But the Beavers didn't finish drives. They ventured into the red zone nine times and came away with five field goals and two touchdowns. Riley lays part of the problem on an offensive line that returns only one regular starter --Sean Harlow.
"We're pretty new up front," he said.
Center Josh Mitchell's first play was a snap over the head of quarterback Sean Mannion that resulted in an 18-yard loss.
"It started off like that, and that's sort of the way the day went," Riley said. "We hadn't had a snap like that all of (training) camp."
The Beavers were 3 for 14 on third-down conversions.
"Just bad," Riley said. "We had a lot of real long (third-down plays). Several times we put ourselves in a hole with penalties."
Mannion completed 26 of 45 passes for 328 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions and ran six yards for a score -- the first scrambling TD of his career. But the senior QB did not seem consistently sharp.
"Sean made some good plays," Riley said, "and a lot of stuff he'd want back. We lost protection around the edge several times, especially in the second half, or it could have been a lot different."
I asked Riley about the poor clock management in the final drive of the first half, with the Beavers trailing 14-13 and taking the ball at their 25 with 1:36 remaining and two timeouts left. Most glaring was what happened after Storm Woods rushed for 14 yards to the PSU 34 with 28 seconds left and still two timeouts remaining.
It seems logical to call a timeout immediately. One more positive play would have put the Beavers in prime field goal position with a chance to take a lead into halftime.
Instead, Mannion diddled around trying to call an audible and finally called a timeout with 15 seconds left, wasting 13 precious seconds.
I offered to Riley that a timeout should have been called immediately from the sidelines.
"Sean was trying to read the defense and tried to audible into something," Riley said. "I couldn't believe how much time it was taking. He finally wound up taking a timeout."
I think Riley needs help there from his coaches in the press box. Clock management has seemed to be a liability for years. The problem is, first-year offensive coordinator John Garrett was on the sidelines. The only offensive assistants in the press box Saturday were grad assistant Tavita Thompson, who works with the line, and intern Nick Halberg, who spots down and distance for the head coach.
I asked Riley is he'll continue to have Garrett work the sidelines.
"I think so," Riley said. "That was pretty good for him. We'll evaluate it, but at this point, we'll stay with it."
Riley had not heard that Portland State coach Nigel Burton said the Vikings' headsets weren't working properly through the game. It used to be when that occurred to one team, the other team wasn't allowed to use headsets, either.
"I don't think that's the case anymore," Riley said. "I believe you're responsible for your own equipment now. We've had problems on the road before, and nobody has taken it away from the other team."
True freshmen Ryan Nall, Xavier Hawkins and Dwayne Williams dressed for Saturday's game but did not play. OSU coaches would like to redshirt all three this season.
"But they're on alert, in case we need them to play," Riley said. "We'll keep them prepared to go if necessary."
The Beavers got through the game unscathed on the injury front other than a bruised shoulder to safety Ryan Murphy, which may keep him out of practice Monday but shouldn't cause him to miss Saturday's game at Hawaii.
Hawaii, 1-11 a year ago, played Washington to the brink Saturday in Honolulu, losing 17-16 after leading 10-0 at halftime. The Warriors won the battle in total offense (424-336) and first downs (26-19) and rushed for 217 yards. The Huskies were playing with backup quarterback Jeff Lindquist while Cyler Miles served a one-game suspension.
The Warriors "looked good," Riley said. "The Huskies hit a couple of plays, but they had a hard time with Hawaii's defense."
Hawaii's Joey Iosafa, a 6-foot, 245-pound senior, carried 30 times for 143 yards and a touchdown.
"He's big and physical, and they feed him the ball," Riley said.
Quarterback Ikalka Woolsey was 23 for 42 passing for 207 yards, with Quinto Pedroza (9 catches for 90 yards) his primary target.
"They have a lot of guys returning, and they're very physical on both sides of the ball," Riley said. "We'll have to improve our performance to win, for sure."