By T.J. Mathewson
Contributor, 750 The Game
The Beavers offense was not perfect by any means in Saturday night’s 36-24 win over UCLA. Oregon State kicked three field goals inside the 25-yard line of the Bruins, and really failed to milk the game away with possession as time ticked down.
There was something about that performance at Reser Stadium, though, that suggests greater, more promising trends. The Beavers faced a defense that had given up just five offensive touchdowns all season and was a touchdown away from tripling UCLA’s points per game allowed average (not counting the seven scored on Ryan Cooper Jr.’s pick-six).
It wasn’t just handed to them either. The Beavers battled without starting C Jake Levengood, one of the anchors of that offensive line, and still ran for 4.8 yards per carry and 133 total on just 28 attempts. In UCLA’s previous high in rushing yards allowed, Utah needed 48 rushes to net 102. The balance of the Beaver offense kept that fast, twitchy UCLA front seven off-balance and unable to tee off on the quarterback. That extra half-second of hesitation is all the great offenses need to make you pay.
DJ was great again, as I highlighted in my piece last week. Averaging over 10.0 yards/attempt against this defense is no small feat. But this offense has grown beyond just evaluating how the quarterback played; they can now attack all three levels with efficiency and explosiveness.
“I feel like in all football games, if the quarterback on point, he’s playing good, most likely the whole entire offense is playing good,” Uiagalelei said after the game. “The whole offense is led by the quarterback.
“If the quarterback isn’t playing well, then the offense isn’t playing well. I’m just trying to put my best foot forward for my brothers.”
You could argue the junior QB had a more impressive performance Saturday than he did against Cal a week ago given the opponent. Regardless, there’s an important reason why the Southern California native finally has this offense rolling along.
“I’m comfortable,” Uiagalelei said. “I’m playing confident. I feel like this offense (and staff) has done a great job instilling confidence in me. And that’s all I can ever ask for.”
He’s not the only one playing with confidence. Sophomore tight end Jack Velling caught his fourth and fifth touchdowns in the last two weeks, giving him seven on the season, the most by a Beaver TE in nearly 20 years. That size concern at pass catcher many mentioned preseason? It’s a lot less concerning with a TE this productive.
The breakout by Velling gives you quite the pickle as a defensive coordinator: do you take away the speed of Silas Bolden/Anthony Gould on the outside, the size of Velling in the middle, or the smash-mouth rushing attack with Martinez and Fenwick? Not even UCLA’s stout defense could defend all three.
Oregon State has needed every point they’ve scored in the four weeks of conference play. The defense continues to show massive flaws, getting gashed for over 200 yards on the ground for the second consecutive week. Give credit to the group for forcing three interceptions of Dante Moore, scoring a touchdown off of one and great field position off the other two. Outside of that, 5.7 YPC on 50 rushes won’t cut it against Washington and Oregon.
The bye has come at a perfect time for the Beavers to get healthy, and gear up for two straight weeks away from Reser stadium. The downside? Having to contain your excitement for what this group has shown they can do for two weeks.