On Saturday the Oregon State Beavers fell at home in overtime to FCS opponent(Formerly Division 1A-A) Sacramento State 29-28. This was without a doubt the most embarrassing loss for Mike Riley as head coach of the Beavers.
First half: The Beavers got off to a good start defensively which was important considering how shaky they were on that side of the ball last season. They got a 3 and out and got the ball back to the offense that was expected to improve. The Beavers got the ball back and were moving the ball downfield effectively until Katz threw an interception inside the Sacramento State 30 yard line. It was a pass that was telegraphed from the start. He was looking for Brandin Cooks and stared him down and it was an easy interception. Once again Katz’s difficulty in looking off the defense or looking for another receiver had shown up again.
The Beavers were finally able to get on the board early in the second quarter on a 29 yard field goal to give them a 3-0 lead. The play calling in the red zone was highly questionable along with Katz’s passing. He missed on a chance to hit back running back Jordan Jenkins on a wheel route in the end zone.
Sacramento State’s next possession highlighted what has been an issue for the Beavers ever since Mark Banker took over as defensive coordinator. The Beavers committed two pass interference penalties included one that they would have gotten off the field and gotten the ball back had they not committed. The issue under Banker has been he has taught the secondary to face guard receivers and not look back for the ball for fear they lose a step on the receivers and it becomes a big play. The problem with this philosophy is that it opens the defensive backs to repeatedly committing pass interference penalties.
On that same drive Sac. St. QB Jeff Fleming would find Chase Deadder in the end zone to give the Hornets a 7-3 lead in the second quarter. On the play Beavers safety Lance Mitchell could have had an interception and should have knocked the ball down but whiffed on the ball and Deadder caught it for a touchdown.
The next Beavers possession was not good. Katz was sacked and would hold the ball and just stare at Markus Wheaton. He clearly was struggling and looking confused.
On the Hornets’ next possession the secondary was just having trouble covering Hornets receivers. The front four of the Beavers was getting pressure on Fleming but the secondary looked lost. One play that really showed how bad things went for the Beavers in the first half. QB Jeff Fleming was under pressure from the Beavers defensive line and he floated a ball as he was hit down the sidelines as he was looking for Curtis Shaw coming out of the backfield on a wheel route. 4 Beaver defenders were in the area and could have made a play on the ball but none knew where the ball was. and Shaw came down with the ball on the 5 yard line of the Beavers. Three plays later Fleming found Deadder in the end zone for another touchdown, making it 14-3 Hornets.
Everyone in the stadium was in shock. Nobody thought Sacramento State would lead let alone lead by double digits at any point in the game.
After two more bad possessions by Ryan Katz the game would go to halftime and the Hornets led 14-3. The Beavers were booed off the field by the fans. The offense had looked brutal, same with the defensive secondary.
2nd half: In the second half the Beavers decided to make a change that nobody actually thought would happen. Ryan Katz was benched in favor of redshirt freshman Sean Mannion. Once the Beavers got the ball the goal was to just run Malcolm Agnew on the ground over and over. He got 5 carries on the drive for 46 yards. With it being Mannion’s the coaching staff was looking to ease him into things while trying to make a comeback. Trevor Romaine would cap off the drive with a 45 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-6.
On Sacramento State’s next possession the Beavers lack of recognition on defense was exposed. On a telegraphed double pass from QB Jeff Fleming to Morris Norrise to Brandyn Reed was virtually uncovered for an easy 38 yard touchdown to give Sacramento State a 21-6 lead. It was looking as if the Beavers were about to be blown out of their own stadium by the Hornets. The crowd was booing heavily.
On Sac. St’s next possession they were driving inside Beavers territory looking to deliver the dagger. The Beavers would then catch a break. Ben Motter was able to force a fumble from running back Bryan Hilliard and Dylan Wynn recovered it at the Beaver 45 yard line. Malcolm Agnew was continued to be force fed the ball. He carried the ball 9 of the next 11 plays(all runs) for 45 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown cut the Hornets lead to 21-13.
The Beavers defense then forced a Hornets punt after finally stopping them and getting a sack. The Beavers took over on their 30 yard line. After a false start, Sean Mannion stood in the pocket and delivered an absolute bomb down the right sideline to Markus Wheaton in stride for a 70 yard reception down to the Sacramento State 5 yard line. Mannion did what Katz didn’t do the entire first half. He stood in the pocket, shifted his body and threw a strike. He wasn’t afraid to hang in there and make the throw. Katz far too often would panic and not throw the ball and take a sack.
Two plays later Malcolm Agnew ran for another touchdown, this time from 4 yards out to make it 21-19 Hornets. On the two point conversion Mannion scanned the field to his right and shifted his eyes and body to the left and saw an open Markus Wheaton and threw a perfect strike to tie the game at 21 and suddenly it looked like Oregon State may just pull one out.
On the Hornets next drive they started getting going again. The Beavers committed another pass interference penalty and it looked like the Beavers weren’t going to stop Jeff Fleming and co. Sean Martin then made what appeared to be the play of the day. Jeff Fleming rolled out of the pocket and found Chase Deadder down the sidelines for a 14 yard gain and Sean Martin ripped the ball out of his hands and recovered it to give the Beavers the ball back at their own 36 yard line.
Malcolm Agnew would then break off a 29 yard run to the Hornets 35 yard line and it looked like the Beavers were about to put the Hornets away finally. However, two plays later Agnew ran for three yards and had the ball punched out and Joe Larche returned it 58 yards to the Beavers 28 yard line. Malcolm Agnew was able to trip him up or else it would have been a touchdown.
The Beavers forced a 4 and 1 for Sac St on the Beavers 19 and were looking for a huge stop. Unfortunately Fleming broke contain and was able to run to the 15 for a first down. The Beavers thanks to a couple defensive plays forced a field goal. Sacramento State’s kicker had looked shaky all day and sure enough kicked it so low that it was blocked from 28 yards.
This allowed the Beavers a chance to drive down the field for a chance at the win. Sean Mannion then went to work. He completed 5 passes on the drive for 59 yards and with a couple runs by Malcolm Agnew the ball was set up at the 5 yard line for true freshman kicker Trevor Romaine. The Beavers then false started to push the kick attempt back to 27 yards. This actually helped the angle on the kick. With four seconds left Romaine attempted to give the Beavers the win and escape. However, Romaine hit it off the right upright and missed the kick. The Beavers kept blowing chances to win the game.
Overtime: In OT the Beavers got the ball first and two plays by Malcolm Angew resulted in a touchdown by him. That gave him 223 yards on the day with 33 carries and three touchdowns. This gave the Beavers a 28-21 lead with Sac. St. getting the ball. On third and goal for the Hornets, Jeff Fleming found Brandyn Reed for a touchdown where junior corner Jordan Poyer was burned badly. This made it 28-27 Beavers Sacramento State when presented with a chance to go for the win decided it was time they do so. Fleming looked for Brandyn Reed again on the two point conversion and he caught it after shoving off on Jordan Poyer on what should have been offensive pass interference. This gave Sacramento State a 29-28 upset win in Corvallis in OT. It was a bad call but the Beavers never should have put themselves in that situation.
Sacramento State was the better team for three quarters and eventually were able to pull out the win. The Beavers just can’t turn it on like they attempted to.
With the way Katz played compared to how Mannion played there is now talk of a quarterback controversy. Coach Riley didn’t help matters by not committing to a QB following the loss. He came out to say “today Ryan is the starting QB”. He also has talked about wanting Mannion to play to. Sounds like he wants two QB’s and that never works out. He needs to come out and name an emphatic starter to make sure the team doesn’t get divided. I anticipate Ryan Katz will have a shot against Wisconsin and if he struggles Mannion will be permanent starter. Katz struggled a ton vs the Hornets. Play calling may have played a part but he wouldn’t pull the trigger. He looks like a guy without confidence. He needs to find his confidence soon.
The Beavers will play Wisconsin next week in Madison, WI. Mike Riley has never beaten a BCS conference opponent in non conference play since becoming head coach of the Beavers. He will need to make a lot of changes to get that elusive win.
Ryan Katz: 11/22, 87 yds, 1INT
Sean Mannion: 8/12, 143 yds
Malcolm Agnew: 33 carries, 223 yards(OSU freshman record), 3 touchdowns
Markus Wheaton: 6 catches, 108 yds
Sacramento State Stats:
Jeff Fleming: 22/35, 257 yds, three touchdowns, 13 carries, 24 yds
Morris Norrise: 6 catches, 89 yards
Brandyn Reed: 6 catches, 85 yards, two touchdowns
Chase Deadder: 6 catches, 61 yards, two touchdowns.