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Oregon State Football: Mike Riley, Beavers Hope To Avoid Disappointing Finish

Mike Riley and the Oregon State Beavers hope to avoid a disappointing finish. The crew from Building the Dam and Northwest Sports Beat has more Beaver talk.

Ezra Shaw

Pretty deflating loss to Stanford. What were the biggest factors as to why Oregon State couldn’t handle the Cardinal?

Andy Wooldridge (AndyPanda), Building The Dam: The obvious fatal problem was the unpressured fumble Cody Vaz committed that gave Stanford a short field to the game winning touchdown. But being unprepared for what the Cardinal hit them with at the beginning of the game was bigger. Just as at Washington, getting way behind early led to a loss, because though they overcame both deficits, they didn’t get far enough ahead to be able to withstand a little late production by their opponent. This is an old bugaboo that has resurfaced, something Coach Riley has to figure out how to stop from happening.

Robert (rvm), Building The Dam: I personally don’t know if I would say the Beavs "did not handle" the Cardinal for I thought all in all the team, as a team, played well and were well within legitimate striking distance to beat a ranked team at their place. I agree with Andy and that fumble was a killer not only for the field positioning that led to the Stanford score but also just as an overall negative mental tweak for the team who looked to be feeling in control. I think the o-line let a few hits on Vaz but overall he looked off all game and that was the weak link in the end. Personally I am not as concerned about the hole they dug for I think that actually fired them up to take control of that game. Andy calls it "an old bugaboo" and I get his point but in this specific case I strangely thought it played into the come from behind and never give up aesthetic this team has put upon itself.

Jon Irwin (j_irwin1704), Northwest Sports Beat: The truth is, Oregon State was in perfect position to win this one deep in the third quarter. Then Cody Vaz did his famed disappearing act. We’ve seen those in all his starts. Only thing is this time the team couldn’t do enough to compensate. In reality the Beavers did handle the Cardinal. They played tough on defense, got turnovers and found ways to slow down Stepfan Taylor. They even moved the ball on the ground! All they needed was for Vaz to lead one more drive in the fourth, but he didn’t have it in him.

James Crabtree-Hannigan (Figgi4life), Building The Dam: Singlehandedly, undoubtedly, the blame goes to Cody Vaz. All other aspects of the game played just fine. Storm Woods played decently well, before head coach Mike Riley abandoned the run. The receivers did their jobs for the most part, and the pass protection was decent, all things considered. The defense surrendered an acceptable 27 points, 7 of which came on the Cardinal drive after the Vaz fumble, and forced a 3-and-out that gave the offense a chance with plenty of time left in the 4th. Trevor Romaine was the special teams Pac-12 Player of the Week, and Keith Kostol’s punts didn’t cost the Beavers any points.

Did Mike Riley make the right decision in sticking with Cody Vaz through the whole game?

Andy Wooldridge (AndyPanda), Building The Dam: Yes. Vaz had produced a 4th quarter scoring drive in all 4 of his previous games, and hadn’t had a turnover. There was no reason to believe he would just drop the ball with no pressure on him.

Robert (rvm), Building The Dam: In hindsight there are questions and second guessing to be had here I know. I also know he was off and some brilliant catches by Cooks and Wheaton took away from how behind and off balance Vaz was throwing balls. I also know with seeing him on the TV his body language and facial expressions were not confident as the game went on, and one would hope he would be more determined to bounce back versus frustrated and distraught. But that all said I think it was the correct decision on Riley’s part. I’m one to go with Coach Mike here and you can’t just keep going back and forth with your QBs, and I say especially these two. Maybe it was stupid in hindsight but you start the guy and he fumbles to go behind you need to put him back out there to bounce back and win the deal.

Jon Irwin (j_irwin1704), Northwest Sports Beat: Unfortunately, even though I think Vaz cost the Beavers the game there was no way to prevent it. Yes, he struggled in the first quarter (two three-and-outs), but then he lead the Beavers to 23 points between the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Riley had no way of knowing that Vaz would 1) go frigid in the fourth, and 2) fumble that ball. But with a twisted ankle on the second to last play of the game, I wouldn’t be surprised if Mannion starts against Cal (or the rest of the season).

James Crabtree-Hannigan (Figgi4life), Building The Dam: No. Vaz wasn’t even close to being "on" against Stanford. The scoring drives consisted mostly of very short passes and screens, and anything deeper than that wasn’t on target throughout the game. Even if you take the fluke fumble out of the equation, Vaz put on a horrid showing against Stanford, by far the worst, and possibly even the last, of his season.

Considering how close Oregon State is to being undefeated, are you disappointed that the Beavers stand at 7-2, or are you just happy with the shift between this year and last?

Andy Wooldridge (AndyPanda), Building The Dam: Yes, but its because the losses are as much or more their own fault than because of what their opponents did. Not showing up prepared on the road in the 2 losses should not have happened. It wouldn’t matter if the Beavers were 7-0 or 0-7 in their other 7 games; the 2 losses they do have should not have happened.

Robert (rvm), Building The Dam: I am both happy and disappointed. I agree that the losses were their faults and I am disappointed as heck about that because this team should be 9 and 0 right now in my opinion. But also I am pleased with how this season has gone and the turnaround the program has shown, and I think this bodes incredibly well for the near future. Plus I personally believe that if Mannion does not have to miss those two games because of a semi-freak injury I think we are sitting on a 9 and 0 season, but at the same time I do think the team bonded an extra bit with bringing Vaz in there especially against BYU. Hmm, okay that was a contradiction I know! But it sums up my conflicted sad and happy feelings about this season so far!

Jon Irwin (j_irwin1704), Northwest Sports Beat: From an objective sports writing standpoint, no I am not disappointed. If they finish the season as expected (beat Cal, lose to Oregon, beat Nicholls State) they’ll finish 9-3, the inverse of last season’s record. That’s a fantastic turnaround, and with such a young team the future is bright. As a fan who got caught up in the dream of a perfect (or near perfect) season and Rose Bowl bid, it’s hard not to be disappointed. Especially with such close losses in games that they had a great chance to win.

James Crabtree-Hannigan (Figgi4life), Building The Dam: I am very disappointed. In my opinion, the preseason expectations for this team were so inaccurate they’re irrelevant, and the only relevant expectations are those had by fans after the Arizona game. The fact that both losses were easily winnable games makes them sting that much more, especially when considering that taking away just one of those losses, gives the Beavs have a very good chance at making a BCS bowl game. Sure, I’ll take 9-3 over 3-9, but when there were realistic visions of 11-1, 9-3 doesn’t look nearly as desirable.