There’s little time left for improvements this season.
If Oregon State wants to win Saturday's Civil War, the Beavers have to find a way to avoid playing a poor half of football only to follow up with a better effort after adjustments.
It happened in the loss at Arizona two weeks ago, when the Beavers fell behind 28-0 at the half and wound up losing 49-28.
It proved to be the Beavers’ undoing again on Saturday in a 40-24 Pac-12 loss to Arizona State.
The Beavers were down 30-7 at the half and then tried to work their way back into the game.
Running back Ryan Nall said he didn’t know the exact cause of the slow starts.
“It could be a lot of reasons but all I know is we’ve got to fix it somehow,” Nall said. “We have one more game to prove that and prove everybody wrong and I think that once we come out strong, come out swinging, it will be a fun game. It’s the last game of the year, it’s the Oregon game, so everybody knows what’s on the line here. Coach (Cory) Hall is saying in the locker room that we’ve got to win state and for me personally it’s obviously a big game, it always has been, always will be.
“I think that we’ll get it fixed and you guys will see a different team come out on Saturday.”
The problem seems to be on both sides of the ball. It’s difficult for a football team to function when one side of the ball is struggling, but when the offense isn’t moving the ball and producing points, it means the defense spends more time on the field trying to force the opposition to punt. When the defense allows the opposition to score, it puts pressure on the offense to produce.
Neither side was working for the Beavers in the first half against ASU.
Hall said he doesn’t think it’s a lack of confidence that is causing the issue and keeping the Beavers from getting on a winning roll.
He said they compete at the same level from the first series to the last and the players are prepared and not intimidated.
“I think they want it so bad. I don’t think it’s an issue of learning how to do it or learning how to finish it, it’s just the right details. It’s in those details that you have to make sure you pay attention to the fundamentals of football,” Hall said.
“(Until the) scenario and situations of football are clear and concise and understood by the whole team, that’s when you get over that hump.”
The Beavers have had their struggles on defense, particularly against the run.
Cal’s Patrick Laird ran for 214 yards against OSU. Then Arizona rolled up 534 yards on the ground and ASU finished with 286 rushing yards.
Hall said most of the offenses the Beavers face are very simple to understand.
“You’re talking about stretch, you’re talking about the away zone and you’re talking about inside zone," he said. "It’s not rocket science ... although in the first half an offense is making it look that way and our offense may not make it look that way, please believe me, the defensive players know what’s coming.
"It’s just about the point of attack and making a play when it’s there to be made. There were adjustments made and adjustments made enough to stop the steamrolling.
“What we have to do is we have to start like that next week. It has to start fast. Both sides of the ball, point blank.”