Well, Beaver fans, this is it. We have arrived at the week that will test who the 2013 Oregon State Football Team thinks they are and who they aspire to be. Do they want to be the team that gave up thousands of yards (OK, slight exaggeration, but not much) against Eastern Washington in Game 1 and struggled to stop WSU in the first three quarters in Pullman, or the team that held the then #1 receiver in the country to virtually no yardage against the Buffs and who showed up ready to play as soon as their cleats hit the field last Saturday? I know I speak for all of Beaver Nation when I say I hope that they decide they want to be the team, and specifically the defense, that showed up and played for four full quarters last Saturday. Just keepin’ it real. I think we all know the only way we have a prayer of winning against Stanford is if the defense that showed up in Berkley decides to show up and play four quarters again. You would need to be smokin’ some of that funny stuff I hear they like down there in Berkley to think that our defense could suddenly decide to arrive after taking a wrong turn at the beginning of the fourth quarter again, and expect to pull out a win against Stanford.
I am starting to wonder what goes on year after year in fall camp and during bye weeks that results in our not seeming to come out of those times ready to compete at the level of other teams, but that is definitely a topic for another blog. I have mentioned it in previous posts, but last week I actually spent quite a while pouring over defensive stats from last season compared to this season, and my level of bewilderment has just continued to rise. Last season we were in the top 25 in many defensive categories, and this season, not only are we at the bottom of the PAC in nearly all defensive categories, but we’re literally at the bottom of the country in some of them as well. Once again, as I have mentioned before, I do not know how that happens when nearly all of our big defensive play makers and team leaders (with the exception of Jordan Poyer, who sadly was just released by Chip Kelly and the Eagles last Saturday – only consolation, Beaver fans, is that if Chip doesn’t start winning games in Philly he’s going to be released soon, too) have returned this year. Completely frustrating when all of us saw with our own little beady rodent eyes the level that this defense played at last year. This last weekend we saw glimmers of that defense back. Scott Crichton had the best game I’ve seen him play since 2012. Zimmerman and Murphy continue to try and single-handedly save the day. Rashaad Reynolds, who in his own words played just “mediocre” football against WSU, (and I must say I heartily agree as I watched him get beat time after time by their receivers as they continued to march the ball down the field on him prior to his two interceptions) stepped up and had a better all-around game this week, and added another interception as well.
We are going to need more stellar performances from the ENTIRE defensive squad for four ENTIRE quarters on Saturday. Nothing less will win the game. Good defense wins games. We all know, despite the rest of the country’s refusal to acknowledge it, that Mannion and Cooks are phenomenal. We also all know that as soon as we face a team with a really great pass defense, that Mannion and Cooks most likely are not going to be putting up the numbers they have been up ’til now. We are not always going to be able to rely on our offense to come in and save the day every time the defense gives up another score. Our defense put us in a great position to win against Stanford last year and the offense let the lead literally slip through our fingers. We are flat-out going to need our defense to put us in that same position again this year if we want to get some sweet revenge and move on towards being at least the 2nd team in the Pac 12 North.
The deep thought of the week as the University of Oregon (who continues to win friends with its rude coaching staff and obnoxious uniforms) prepares to host Game Day and the UCLA Bruins, and Stanford has to come to lowly, forgotten Corvallis with its “aw, shucks” coaching staff and low-key uniforms that actually reflect their school colors, is not whether we CAN beat the Cardinals. Anyone who has watched our team this season knows we have more than enough talent to be able to beat the Cardinals, and on Saturday the Beavs need to walk out on that field and prove it. Go Beavers!!!!!