Oregon State Play of the Night: Unfortunately for Beavers' fans and Oregon State players, the turning point of the night had to be the 4th INT by starting quarterback Sean Mannion. The game was tied 10-all, the Beavers seemed to be in a position to come out of a very ugly game with a win, and the sophomore QB coming back from a knee injury threw a very untimely pick to Marcus Peters that gave Washington the ball. One play later Price to Williams put Washington at the one-yard line. Sure it isn't something positive but Mannion's four picks cost OSU the ball game, and made any kind of an offensive rhythm impossible to get going. The pick also triggered a switch at QB for OSU that nearly won the game for them. Now some wonder whether Mannion is the answer for OSU the rest of the way this season.
Player of the Game: Brandin Cooks. Kid had nine catches for 123-yards a TD. He seemed to take the leadership role after Markus Wheaton was put out on a helmet-to-helmet hit. Cody Vaz a close second, but Cooks did everything you could have asked from him.
Quote of the Night: Sean Mannion: "It was a tough loss against a great opponent. Washington played a great game, I thought they played well tonight, I'm not happy we lost, but this team has great character. We're going to be ready to go next week, that's for sure."
What to Look Forward to: Arizona State. The Beavers get to play at home, under the lights, and to play a good team in the Sun Devils. An ASU team that's coming off of a heart-breaking loss themselves to UCLA 45-43. It should be a good test for an OSU team that now knows what it's like to be punched in the mouth after being a ranked team. Whether they can learn from this loss and move on and improve against ASU might be the determining factor in how far OSU can travel in postseason play.
We'll see how they respond under the bright lights.
Oregon State Play of the Night: Michael Doctor's first quarter interception off Travis Wilson, that came off of a tip, was returned 19-yards, and eventually gave the Beavers the ball at the Utah 16.
Reason: Look, you could point at a number of other plays, but the reasoning for this one was because it seemed to set the tone for the entire game. OSU's offense had gone three and out three times prior to that interception. There was absolutely no rythm offensively, so the INT allowed a stagnant offense a short field to work with, and helped give OSU a lead they would never relinquish.
Player of the Game: I could easily give this award to a defensive player, namely; Rudy Fifita, for his bone-jarring hit on Travis Wilson that forced a fumble, DJ Alexander, who came up with the 4th down sack to seal the game and was an animal all game, or even Scott Crichton, who proved to be a real load for the Utah offensive line. Hell, Keith Kostol could get a nod here. Laugh all you want, but if the punting game is off tonight (five kicks downed inside the 20) Utah might have been able to get something going.
No, my player(s) of the game are exactly that. Players. The offensive line deserves the nod here. Specifically Josh Andrews and true freshman Isaac Seumalo. Utah came in with one of the best defensive line's in the conference. Anchored by future top-10 NFL draft pick, Star Lotulelei. Last season the line was to blame for a lot, but this season they've turned it around. Sure the OSU ground game managed just 77 yards, but Woods was able to score when given the opportunity, and Cody Vaz wasn't sacked all game. Props to the guys who took the blame. They did all they could, and helped tip the Beavers over the edge.
Quote of the Night: "It's awesome. We aren't going to be complacent and we're going to keep this thing going. It was an ugly win for us tonight, but the defense played great, so hats off to them." - Cody Vaz on OSU becoming bowl eligible.
What to Look Forward to: Next weekend the Beavers travel to Century Link field in Seattle, to take on the Washington Huskies. A 3-4 team that is coming off of a 52-17 schilacking at the hands of the Arizona Wildcats, in Tucson. I strongly believe that OSU is the better team, and that Washington is really reeling. However, you can never discount a team in the Pac-12 (except maybe Colorado), nor a team OSU is facing. They've been inconsistent on the road and at home, and at some point it could bite them in the butt.
I'm not saying it will be next weekend, I just wouldn't automatically chalk it down as a "W." Also, QB Sean Mannion will be returning, and whether he can come back and put up Arizona or UCLA-type numbers is still unseen. It should be an intriguing matchup, especially since OSU lost a nail-bitter of a game the last time they played against Washington in Seattle (a double overtime loss). One more thing to take note of, Oregon State has never started the season 7-0. They get that chance next weekend.
This week's picture of the week comes from just a season ago, when a 3-9 Oregon State team hung with a much better BYU team in Corvallis. Now they head to Provo without Sean Mannion, but an improved group on both sides of the ball.
Oregon State squares off against Washington State on Saturday at 3pm in Corvallis. The Beavers' first home game since Wisconsin, almost a month ago. OSU is favored by -14 1/2 points, something they're familiar with having been double-digit favorites in 2010 against the Cougars, and Wazzu won 31-14. Of course, this is a different team, different year, and OSU clearly has the better team. Even if you're still not sold on OSU, you can't look at this match-up as anything but a game Oregon State should have. Sure, Wazzu has the talent, especially at wide receiver, but OSU has an offense that is clicking on all cyclinders, a defense -- coming off their toughest challenge last weekend against a motivated spread offense in Arizona -- that remains fired up and unsatisfied, and a head coach that is out to prove and show everyone that doubted him and his consistency just how wrong they were, in my opinion.
As for the game itself, I don't expect anything like the start of the 2010 game, when RB Jacquizz Rodgers was run out of bounds and then hit, sparking a downtrodden Wazzu team, and showing just how lifeless and unsupportive that 2010 team truly was. I think OSU comes out fired up. I think they fling it through the air 40-45 times. I absolutely think Storm Woods can run all over the defense, but I think Riley might pull the reigns in a bit, considering Woods was in and out of practice all week. But, don't be surprised if he can get it going early, Riley might want more runs than passes. Wazzu's offense is good. Yeah, they lost to Colorado, an epic meltdown in front of their home fans, and sure Oregon boatraced them in the 2nd half last weekend, but they can move the ball, and they will score. Marquess Wilson is a furture NFL wide out, and I believe you'll see exactly why a few times on Saturday. However, I still don't trust this program to do much. The Mike Leach hire was a good move, but its still early to expect big time results just yet. There is a reason the term "Coug'd it" still exists.
So, I'm taking Oregon State in this one. Reser will be sold out for the first time since the 2010 Civil War, the students will be amped to be back at a football game, and this group of players isn't overlooking any opponent. They know what it's like to be doubted, I mean, they were 3-9 just a season ago. Which is why I'm going big. I think OSU makes a statement this weekend. I think the Beavers win 41-20. It's hard to imagine the Wazzu defense holding Sean Mannion and Co. As it is, hard to see Halliday really light this athletic, fast, and active defense up.
The Beavers will be looking at 4-0, and possibly moving up even further in the rankings, especially with all of the ranked teams that are playing each other this weekend. I might be wrong, I might be right, but I just can't see this Wazzu team -- coming off an emotional late night game where they thought they were hanging with the No. 2 team in the country -- keeping it close, and I can't see OSU letting this one slip away.
Going into the 2012 season there were lots of question marks for Oregon State’s offense. One of which was who will help alleviate the double teams on senior wide out, Markus Wheaton and step up for second-year QB Sean Mannion?
Now, going into the sixth week of the season, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more complete combination on the same team -- not just in the Pac-12, but also in the country -- than wide receiver’s Markus Wheaton and sophomore Brandin Cooks.
The two have combined for 48 receptions, five touchdowns, and 807 yards in just three games. Both average 134 yards a game, and over 13 yards per catch. They’ve established themselves as a one-two punch that their head coach could have only dreamed of, and have taken the Pac-12 by storm.
However, it’s Wheaton’s leadership, not play, which has been the most impressive part for OSU this season. Not many doubted that Wheaton could produce, but the Beavers were severely lacking in team leaders the past couple of seasons, and Wheaton’s quiet bravado stepped up to be every bit the leader the team needed.
“Markus, he’s just a great player, I look up to him a lot.” Brandin Cooks said on Monday. “The great things he does, I try to follow. We help each other, but for the most part, he’s just like another big brother.”
The relationship between Cooks and Wheaton has been strong from day one. Wheaton mentored Cooks, and helped him out with all of the nuances of going from high school to college.
“When he first got here I took him under my arm.” Wheaton said. “We did a lot of stuff together on and off the field.”
Now, the hard work in the offseason seems to have paid off. After a season of struggle for both Cooks (31 catches) and Wheaton (one touchdown) the two are becoming the most electric wide outs in the conference.
And the big brother – little brother combo have not only learned from each other, but from their second-year positions coach, Brent Brennan. Brennan stepped in last season, as a former player, with a fire and tenacity that has rubbed off on his group. Many times, shouting criticisms or praise, letting his guys know exactly how he feels about their play.
“Coach B is amazing.” Cooks said. “He stays on us in the film room and on the field.”
Cooks’ production in just three games is already superseding his numbers from last year. He’s just 10 catches away from his total last season, one touchdown away, but already has more receiving yards (404). His yards per reception are up, and receptions per game have tripled. He has always been a good route runner, but his ability to create separation has been the difference, becoming one of Mannion’s favorite targets and defensive backs’ worst nightmare.
Yet, as successful as the young WR might be, his coach still isn’t ready to give too much praise. And that’s something even Cooks himself admits is okay.
“I’m actually not really surprised by cookie’s (Brennan’s nickname for Cooks) play, so far.” Brennan said after practice Monday. “Cookie’s always had a ton of ability. One thing we’ve known from the beginning from him is he’s so serious to be a good player.”
“I’m not spending too much time out here kissing their rear-ends, because everyone’s doing it for me.”
As impressive as Cooks and his turnaround have been, some deserved credit should go to his counterpart, Markus Wheaton. Wheaton obviously has the leadership role covered, but his phenomenal play has helped free others, and has still given the Beavers production they haven’t seen since James Rodgers in 2009 (91 receptions).
Wheaton’s currently on track for 108 receptions, 12 touchdowns, and 1,611 receiving yards. The receptions total would put him over the current OSU all-time record of receptions of 222 set by James Rodgers just one season ago, by 22. It would also cement his legacy as one of the best in OSU’s history.
There is a lot of credit to go around for Oregon State’s 3-0 start and No. 14 AP ranking, but the big-play ability and numbers put up by the wide outs is among the top of the reasons, maybe falling just short of the defense and Mannion’s growth.
Cooks becoming a household name for OSU fans, and Wheaton on pace for a record-breaking season are things to discuss, but neither are things the two care about. In fact, when asked what was the most important part, aside from winning, for Wheaton, going into the season, he responded with, “I just wanted to try and elevate his (Cooks) game.”
Now, he has.
The two are becoming a headache for opposing defensive coordinators to prepare for. Oregon State’s coaching staff has done an incredible job of changing the mentality, trusting the senior players for leadership, and helping to mold the young talent last season. Chemistry with this team is key, and nobody is closer to these players than their positions coaches. It could be no more evident than Brennan’s response to how happy he’d be for Wheaton, if he breaks the receptions record.
“I’ll be proud of Markus Wheaton whether he catches 100 more balls or zero more balls. He’s an outstanding human being. He’s a great leader for our team. So I’ll love him either way.”
Sure, there are still nine games to be played for Oregon State, so maybe looking at records or praising a sophomore seem premature, but it’s impossible to ignore. Pac-12 defensive coordinators have taken notice, as has the nation. Cooks and Wheaton rank in the top three nationally in yards per game (269).
That’s not just a nice receiving core, that’s a dynamic duo.