If Tim Tibesar had a choice of which team he would have liked to open up against as Oregon State’s new defensive coordinator, it’s a sure bet it would not have been then-No. 5 ranked Ohio State on the road.
“If you got to choose out of the, what, 125 teams, they would be in the lower three,” Tibesar said with a smile Wednesday afternoon. “But they put them on the schedule (and) we had to go play them.”
The results, as one might expect, weren’t good as the Buckeyes rolled to a 77-31 victory.
Ohio State rolled up 721 total yards of offense — 375 on the ground and 346 through the air — and scored on 10 of their 13 possessions. The three scoreless drives ended with a punt, the first half and an interception. The punt, though, pinned the Beavers deep and the Buckeyes scored their other touchdown when Nick Bosa recovered a Conor Blount fumble in the end zone.
“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the results but I’m not discouraged,” Tibesar said. “I’m really not. I thought our guys fought hard for four quarters even though the results weren’t what we were hoping for on the field.
“But there was no give-up with our players, which was something we were looking for. There were a lot of guys out there being supportive teammates, there was no (complaining) or bickering on the sideline, no finger pointing. All those things are positive steps for where we’re coming from.”
Senior linebacker Jonathan Willis said watching the game film showed the Beavers made a lot of mental mistakes, and when they made mistakes of any kind, the Buckeyes made them pay.
“All of it is correctable,” he said. “It was just a lot of small issues where one person wasn’t on the same page as everybody else and they hit us for a big gain.”
Willis said clearing up those mental lapses as well as better communication and knowing their assignments will be key for the Beavers moving forward.
“So far we’re doing a lot better on communication, recognizing the sets, recognizing which way the play is going,” Willis said of the first couple days of practice this week leading into Saturday’s 5 p.m. home opener against Southern Utah.
While the numbers Saturday weren’t good, both Willis and safety Jalen Moore said this year’s defense is in a better position to find success than last season's squad that allowed 473 yards and nearly 43 points a game.
“I feel like the defense is coming along,” Moore said. “Obviously the score doesn’t reflect that."
Moore said he has seen more commitment from the unit not only on the field, but off it as well.
“I thought last year everybody was an individual and they were worried about themselves,” he said. “This year I feel like me are more a collective (group) as a defense.
“… If you watched a lot of games last year you know like when we got scored on as a defense I felt like as a team when adversity hit us it was hard for us to get back. I feel like that (Ohio State) game, there was a lot of positives. We were finishing the plays, we were finishing the game. Most of the time last year we would have gave up and I feel like that was a huge positive. (Nobody) was pointing fingers. … We just kept fighting.”
Having an opportunity to go up against such an explosive team could pay dividends down the road. There won't be many better offenses the Beavers will see this season.
“They should come away with some of the positive things that they’ve done to actually generate more confidence,” defensive backs coach Greg Burns said. “I’ve got a feeling they’re going to improve. They’ve learned their lessons and I expect them to do better.”
Burns said his depleted secondary showed well most of the game.
“They played a little better than I thought from a standpoint of nerves and jitters,” he said. “We didn’t have too many busts per say so that part was good. It was just more so making plays, that’s all it came down to. We just have to clean that up.”
The Beavers would love to see improvement pressuring the quarterback, an area they struggled in last season. Oregon State did not record a sack against the Buckeyes.
“Certainly their O-line had something to do with it,” Tibesar said. “We had a hard time pressuring them at Wisconsin just with how they play, they get ahead of the sticks. They’re not in very many third-and-long situations for an entire game. That’s about the only time you can really pin your ears back against a team like that, when you have to account for the quarterback in the run game every single snap.”
As Tibesar says, there is no “magic bullet” to turn things around quickly.
“It’s just rolling up your sleeves and going to work every single day and keep pushing the players to try and take it to the next level,” he said.
Still there is plenty of optimism.
“I’m excited to play another game,” Tibesar said. “That’s the great thing about a football season is each week you get another opportunity to go out there and improve from where you were the week before and that’s what we want to do this week.”