More of what wasn't supposed to be in the script for Beavers
CORVALLIS — For Oregon State, Saturday night's 48-14 thumping by Minnesota at Reser Stadium wasn't the end of the world.
But to denizens of Beaver Nation, it felt like you could see it from there after a winnable game against a mediocre opponent turned ugly in the second half.
And Gary Andersen can empathize.
"It's a pretty tough deal for those guys, I would imagine," the third-year Oregon State coach said, when asked what message he would have for Beaver fans. "It's absolutely not what I expected in any way, shape or form."It's not on those kids. I hired these coaches. It's all on me."
Andersen deserves to carry a heavy burden, then, after his Beavers (1-2) got swamped 28-0 in the second half. They managed one first down and all of 35 yards total offense after intermission.
"We got beaten badly in the second half," he said. "Way too many situations where we let an opportunity slip away.
"Congratulations to (the Gophers). They played great. But we had no offense in the third quarter. We couldn't throw it. We couldn't run it. We turned it over."
Oregon State's defense was better — for a while, at least — than it had been in a season-opening loss to Colorado State and a narrow victory over Portland State. But it broke down in the second half as Minnesota (2-0) salted away an easy victory, and then some.
"We didn't tackle well," Andersen said. "Three or four times, we're out of drives and we find a way to give them a first down (with a third-down penalty). We struggled to stop the run, especially when the game was on the line and we had a chance to stay in there."
Minnesota rushed for 253 yards, though a sizable chunk of that came on its final attempt — a 64-yard quarterback bootleg by backup quarterback Demry Croft, who scampered down the right sideline untouched and into the end zone with startling ease in the closing minutes. Rodney Smith (30 rushes, 93 yards, one TD) and Shannon Brooks (17 for 91 and three scores) shared the load.
The Gophers passed only to keep Oregon State's defense honest, but QB Conor Rhoda (7 for 8, 158 yards, one TD, no interceptions) was effective in his few forays through the air.
The Beavers showed a pulse only in the second quarter after falling behind 17-0, scoring a pair of touchdowns in a 37-second span to pull to within 17-14.
The Gophers added a field goal before halftime, but it was still anybody's game when the teams headed for the locker room.
That changed quickly. One team came back out ready to play football. The other didn't.
"Embarrassing," admitted OSU's David Morris, a true freshman who was all over the field, making 17 tackles from his safety spot.
Senior receiver Jordan Villamin felt the same way.
"I don't want to put anybody under the bus, but I just feel we weren't ready," said Villamin, who had three catches for 55 yards and a TD, all in the first half. "If we want to be the team we expect to be, we can't have that. We can't come out feeling sorry for ourselves. We have to be more consistent. We need to execute. We need to play with some heart.
"It was pretty bad in the second half. We didn't come out with any energy. We can't come out flat and expect to win. We'd better come out with more intensity than that."
Andersen was asked afterward why junior tailback Ryan Nall didn't start, giving way to sophomore Artavis Pierce.
"The basic rotation," said the OSU coach. "It's in regards to a lot of things defenses do. We tried to get to the edge a little more with AP in this game. Some things suit players better than others. But Ryan is our workhorse."
He wasn't against Minnesota. Nall got the ball only seven times — once in the second half — and rushed for 31 yards. Pierce had 35 yards on eight carries.
Junior quarterback Jake Luton wasn't sharp, completing 16 of 28 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown with no picks. He threw for 32 yards after halftime. What did the Gophers do to slow the OSU offense down in the second half?
"We were just slowing ourselves down," Luton said.
Minnesota struck first, on its second offensive series, when Tyler Johnson grabbed a Rhoda pass on a deep post pattern and outraced OSU safety Brandon Arnold to the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 9:07 left in the first quarter.
The Gophers tacked on a 26-yard Emmit Carpenter field goal after recovering a fumble that followed a reception by OSU tight end Noah Togiai at the Minnesota 40.
On Oregon State's next possession, Luton fumbled while being sacked, the Gophers recovering on the OSU 24. Four plays later, Brooks bulled over from the 2 and Minnesota's lead was a commanding 17-0 early in the second quarter.
The Beavers wiped out most of the deficit in less than a minute.
First they marched 80 yards in 15 plays, capped by a 16-yard TD pass from Luton to Villamin, to draw within 17-7 with 9:10 remaining in the quarter.
Then, after Bright Ugwoegbu recovered Croft's fumble at the Minnesota 17, OSU's Trevorris Johnson took it into the end zone from 2 yards to cut the margin to 17-14 with 8:33 to go in the period.
Minnesota added a 49-yard Carpenter 3-pointer to increase its advantage to 20-14 with 2:41 to play before the half.
After an exchange of punts to open the second half, Oregon State began in a hole when Trevon Bradford chose to make a fair catch at the OSU 3. Two plays later, Nall fumbled, and the Gophers recovered at the Beaver 14. Three plays later, Smith scored on a one-yard plunge and Minnesota led 27-14 with 8:45 left in the third quarter.
Minnesota all but wrapped things up with a nine-play, 71-yard scoring drive capped by Brooks' 2-yard touchdown run to hike the margin to 34-14 with 1:34 to go in the quarter.
Luton was asked about the mood in the OSU locker room after the game.
"Right now, it hurts," he said. "That's the way it is. But (Sunday), we're back to work. You can't spend a lot of time thinking about how you feel about things. You have to look at (video) and see what went right and what went wrong, and then go about getting ready for next week.
"You have to let it hurt for a minute, take a look in the mirror, then come back next week and try to get a winning streak started."
NOTES: Oregon State visits Washington State for its Pac-12 opener next Saturday. … Beaver running back/slotback Thomas Tyner wasn't in uniform. Sports information officials said he had a hamstring injury. ... OSU lost both of its starting cornerbacks to injuries in the first half, Dwayne Williams (knee) and Xavier Crawford (shoulder). … The Beavers finished with only 225 yards total offense — 80 rushing, 145 passing. … True freshman Isaiah Hodgins caught seven passes for 48 yards. … Minnesota was 9 for 13 on third-down conversions; OSU was 3 for 11. … The Beavers had seven penalties for 91 yards. … OSU had three turnovers, all fumbles. Minnesota turned it over only once, on a fumble. … After three games, Oregon State's defense has zero sacks. … Andersen is now 7-8 in home games, 0-12 on the road at Oregon State.
MINNESOTA 10 10 14 14 — 48
OREGON STATE 0 14 0 0 — 14
MINN — Tyler Johnson 67 pass from Conor Rhoda (Emmitt Carpenter kick) 9:07
MINN — Carpenter 26 FG 3:12
MINN — Shannon Brooks 2 run (Carpenter kick) 14:50
OSU — Jordan Villamin 16 pass from Jake Luton (Jordan Choukair kick) 9:10
OSU — Trevorris Johnson 2 run (Choukair kick) 8:33
MINN — Carpenter 49 FG 2:41
MINN — Rodney Smith 1 run (Carpenter kick) 8:45
MINN — Brooks 2 run (Carpenter kick) 1:34
MINN — Brooks 1 run (Carpenter kick) 5:24
MINN — Demry Croft 64 run (Carpenter kick) 2:53
Att. — 35,206