When Jalen Moore picked up a fumble and began to run toward the end zone for an apparent touchdown late in the third quarter last Saturday, it appeared Oregon State was going to be tied with USC.
But the officials ruled the USC runner down and blew the whistle to kill the play.
Upon further review, it was deemed a fumble but instead of the touchdown return, the Beavers had to settle for the ball at the spot of the fumble.
The touchdown return was the type of play Oregon State’s defense needed.
That fumble could have swung the tide no doubt. Instead, the Beavers went four-and-out and USC scored on the first play of the next possession to go up 35-21.
“We scoop it up and think we have a chance to score (and) at that point it’s a tie game in the fourth quarter against USC and we’ve got momentum on our side so things could have changed right there,” defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar said.
While the Beavers have had moments defensively this season, Tibesar said they need to stop falling behind so quickly.
“We’ve got to start better than we have,” he said. “We keep digging ourselves a hole and then try to claw out of it. If we start a little faster maybe we won’t be in such a big hole and can pull out some of these games in the end.”
Oregon State has struggled to get off the field on third downs this season, allowing the opposition to convert on 60 of 119.
USC was 8 for 14 last week and picked up some long conversions to keep drives alive.
“There’s not one thing, unfortunately, that we can just focus in on that,” Tibesar said. “SC broke a bunch of tendencies on third down. They ran the ball four times on third-and-7 (or more) which they had zero rushing attempts prior to that in the games that we had taken a look at.”
That could mean the Beavers will have to change some of their thought process in what the opposition might do in those cases.
“(We need to be) aware that because our rush defense has not been as strong as we’d like it to be maybe (teams will try) to take advantage of it and run the ball in those obvious passing situations,” he said.
Matthew Tago, Isaiah Tufaga and Isaac Hodgins have seen quite a bit of play as true freshmen and have made some big strides this season, Tibesar said.
“Those guys early on were pretty wide-eyed and wet behind the ears and trying to figure it out and now some of those guys are playing some of our better football for us on defense,” he said.
“More and more those guys are just getting better and growing which is what we want to see through the course of the season.”
Love still a threat
Stanford running back Bryce Love entered the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate but has battled injury and enters Saturday’s game against Oregon State.
Love has carried 111 times for 490 yards and four touchdowns.
“He hasn’t been quite as dynamic as he was last year but he’s still a very good and explosive player that we’ve got to be able to account for,” Tibesar said.