James Rodgers still has faith in the Oregon State football team.
He came back for a fifth-year after undergoing two reconstructive knee surgeries.
But being on the brink of being eliminated for a bowl game hasn’t discouraged him yet.
Moments after Saturday’s 27-8 Pacific-12 Conference loss at Utah he said the Beavers are ready to move on to the next game.
They are not happy about being 2-6, 2-3 in the conference, and plan to finish the season on a high note.
He knows that’s going to be difficult with undefeated and fourth-ranked Stanford coming to Corvallis this Saturday, but as athletes that’s what they plan anyway.
“I think we are OK,” Rodgers said. “We’ll be all right. We know we have to go back to work, watch film and get ready for Stanford.”
Sunday night, coach Mike Riley said the players were still down about the situation during their team meetings, but he saw them as eager to get ready for the next game.
Rodgers said the Beavers were prepared for the Utes (4-4, 1-4) on offense and didn’t know why they couldn’t execute.
The offensive line was overwhelmed and allowed six sacks, and the running game gained only 32 yards. Take away the sack yardage and it was 91 rushing yards.
However, being down 24 points in the first half didn’t allow the running game to be a focal-point in the second half.
“They were bringing a lot of pressure. We knew what they were going to do, but we just have to stop it,” Rodgers said. “We practiced it all week.”
The offensive line was called for five false start penalties in part due to Utah’s movement before the snap, Riley said.
The Beavers practice that during the week, but the linemen jumped anyway.
“It’s just more preparation,” Riley said. “And I think it’s an individual readiness of learning how to be ready that’s needed.”
Quarterback Sean Mannion threw for 231 yards, topping 200 yards for the seventh straight game. Only Sean Canfield (2009) and Derek Anderson (2003) have done that for the Beavers.
Mannion threw one touchdown to Markus Wheaton in the fourth quarter and has now thrown at least one TD pass in the last six games.
However, he had his worst game of the season with three interceptions and other missed throws. Mannion has 13 picks on the season to 10 TDs.
“We know he does a lot of good things,” Rodgers said. “Nobody is mad at Sean for anything. We are a team and we stick together.”
Riley didn’t consider pulling Mannion in favor of last year’s starter, Ryan Katz, because he felt Mannion was making the throws when he had time.
“We protected OK early in the game, but as things rolled along we lost that,” Riley said. “We lost balance. And they started teeing off.”
Riley reviewed the video of the Utah game and blames poor tackling on defense for not stopping a running game that gained 225 yards.
He even responded to Utah coach Kyle Whittingham’s postgame comment about being surprised OSU didn’t stack the box to try and stop the simple middle run.
“If we tackled better, it would have looked better,” Riley said. “We didn’t change much in the second half and we did a better job in the second half. We were making plays and tackling well.”
So it’s back to work for the Beavers as they face elimination from the postseason this week.
Tackling and blocking need to be better to make it a competitive game.
“I’ve liked this team and how they come to work,” Riley said. “We didn’t carry it over to the football game. And that’s the key ingredient. We are all accountable for that.”