There really wasn’t a lot to be happy about on the defensive side of the football for Oregon State last Friday night in a 52-36 nonconference home loss to Oklahoma State.
“We’re not pleased with the results, obviously,” defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar said Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve got to play better and we know that. And so that was disappointing to see the results that we got and we’ve got to continue to work hard and work for daily improvement.”
Much like a season ago, the numbers were not pretty. The Beavers allowed 555 total yards of offense on 76 plays for an average of 7.3 per snap.
Included in that total was 352 yards on the ground with running back Chuba Hubbard accounting for 221 on 26 attempts with three touchdowns and quarterback Spencer Sanders adding 109 more on 13 rushes.
That total ranks the Beavers 127th out of 129 Football Bowl Subdivision schools. OSU finished last season 128th.
So what can Oregon State do to rebound and turn those results around?
“I’d say we’re going back to fundamentals but we haven’t drifted away from them,” Tibesar said. “We’re focusing on the same things we were focusing on all camp, which is tackling, block destruction and creating takeaways. We’ve got to improve in those areas and it’s got to be a daily improvement to get better.”
Sanders also completed 19 of 24 passes for 23 yards and three scores last Friday in his first collegiate start.
While it was a disappointing result, the Cowboys are no slouch as they finished 10th last season in total offense at 500.2 yards per game and were 13th in points per game at 38.4.
“They were a top 10 offense last season and they basically had nine of their 11 starters returning and so they’re a good football team,” Tibesar said. “But we’ve got to play better and we know that.”
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The Beavers also had a number of first-time starters or players who hadn’t played in a year or two.
“Some of these guys are just getting used to playing college football,” Tibesar said. “That was a big thing last week we had about nine guys that logged a lot of snaps that really played their first college football at Oregon State or they hadn’t played in over two years. We’re hoping their performance will improve as time goes on and they get more snaps under their belts this season.”
The Beavers also were without senior safety Jalen Moore and returning starting cornerback Isaiah Dunn played limited snaps with a groin injury. While Dunn said Wednesday he should be able to go Saturday at Hawaii, Moore’s status is still up in the air.
“It would be great to see him out there, it’s still not for sure he is going to be able to fully cleared to play in this game,” Tibesar said of Moore, the Beavers' leading tackler last season with 102. “But obviously the amount of games that he’s played and the plays he’s made for us it would be great to get his experience there on the back end.”
Despite the poor overall performance, there were a couple of bright spots for the defense, including getting in the back field more often than a season ago.
“I think we had nine or 10 tackles for loss in this game, we didn’t have a single game last year where we matched that at all,” Tibesar said. “So those are some of the things we’re pleased with, we’ve just got to get more consistent and we’ve got to tackle better.”
Tibesar said there is no panic but there is certainly a sense of urgency.
“We’re a better defense, we’ve just got to go out and prove it,” he said.
Added safety Shawn Wilson, who had a team-best 12 tackles: “I think we’ve just got to keep the energy, like when one thing goes bad we’ve still got to keep the energy going.”