It’s a tough way to go into a bye week for the Oregon State football team.
There weren’t a whole lot of positives to take from Friday night’s 31-14 Pac-12 loss to USC. The Beavers had a chance to stay in the thick of the North Division race with a win.
Instead, missed opportunities turned into a second straight home defeat.
“It was disappointing for sure. It will be hard to stomach this one for a while,” coach Mike Riley said. “They played a good game and we really didn’t. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot. We did some things that were kind of uncharacteristic of how we have been playing.”
The last two games exposed the Beavers to an extent.
Teams that have the ability to put pressure on quarterback Sean Mannion, control wide receiver Brandin Cooks and run the ball on offense are going to give OSU trouble.
Stanford sacked Mannion eight times, held Cooks to 80 yards on nine catches and a score and rushed for 185 yards.
USC came up with two sacks and three interceptions, gave up 88 yards on six receptions and a touchdown by Cooks and shredded OSU on the ground with 242 yards.
There were some differences between the games. Mannion hung tough in the pocket against Stanford and made some plays in the second half. He had more time to throw against the Trojans, but seemed out of sorts, throwing into coverage at times.
Mannion said he forced a few balls that he should have thrown away.
“When you play quarterback, you are the one with the ball in your hands and ultimately the one who makes decisions on where to go with it,” Mannion said. “I think I just need to see that and throw it away.”
The Trojans and Cardinal rolled coverage on Cooks and, while not completely taking him out of the game, cut down his production and ability to make big plays.
“There were times I found myself in the wrong spot,” Cooks said. “They rolled a lot of coverage, and you can only keep battling.”
The Beavers played fairly well on defense against Stanford but seemed to regress against the Trojans.
For the first time since the loss to Eastern Washington in the season opener, tackling was a glaring problem for the Beavers.
Players were out of position, took wrong angles, whiffed in the open field or simply watched as a back blew by.
Silas Redd ran for 140 yards on 22 carries and Javorius Allen, a late addition to the lineup, went for 133 on 16 carries and three touchdowns, including a 52-yard keep-away from the Beavers.
“I can’t really tell you why our defense didn’t play like last week,” safety Ryan Murphy said. “Guys missing gaps and tackles really hurt us. For me, I had a hard time seeing from the top of the field.”
It’s not going to get any easier for the Beavers.
After the bye, OSU heads to Tempe, where Arizona State is 5-0 in Sun Devil Stadium.
The Sun Devils boast a high-powered offense and can run the ball effectively.
They also have the No. 2 defense in the Pac-12.
Then it’s Washington and the No. 3 rushing offense in the conference before facing Oregon. The Ducks have the top offense in the conference and lead the Pac-12 with 331.5 rushing yards a game. They’re also fourth in total defense.
“The biggest difference is the last two defenses we’ve played are probably two of the best four or five in the league. And we’re still going to play the other two,” Riley said. “That’s what you’re up against.”