Oregon State plays Hawaii tonight at 5pm and looks to not start off with their worst opening to a season in the past decade plus. The OSU defense led by the schemes of Mark Banker was atrocious versus Eastern Washington in the opener. Sean Martin, Stephen Nelson, Zimmerman and even Reynolds were out of position far too often and torched for big plays and easy touchdowns. Beyond that they never kept EWU QB Vernon Adams from having his team score on even a single drive during the entire game. OSU will likely have a better defensive performance against Hawaii but it is doubtful it will be due to a much improved defense. More likely it will be because Hawaii QB Taylor Graham is slower and more of a pocket passer who threw 4 picks against USC in their opener. OSU needs to give less cushion and play more of a bump and press as they run with the receivers of Hawaii. Not only will this lessen giving too easy of short yardage pickups for valuable yardage or first downs but it should also help on being fooled by cuts and then getting beat deep because the players have lost too much of their bodily momentum.
Another thing Beaver Nation should not be fooled by is that a win against Hawaii means next to anything. 2/3 of pundits atleast were predicting OSU as a likely 7-0 team to start the season. Those who really know Riley best know he always is good to mess up a plausible good scenario and figured they would believe it when they see it, but to lose to EWU and twice in a row to FCS programs to start the season is an all-time low that some statician needs to do the research on. It is possible Riley became the first person in the history of the Milk Way Galaxy to accomplish this feat. You can’t even hide on Ice Planet Hoth in Corvallis for home games against the FCS if you are Riley and Banker I guess. But then again in a way they really can because there doesn’t seem to be any pressure from the AD or administration for them to perform to any standards. The fans have been very vocal this past week and the angst against Banker is at an all-time high. We have seen a cycle from Riley and Banker where they have enough very winnable games on the schedule where they get too much credit for a snap back win or two even if all the same patterns of mediocrity hold true when a few more games take place. We have seen Riley’s pattern for 12 years and 4 , 6 or 8 or more years will not change this except for a somewhat higher likelihood that as he ages more the recruiting classes will begin to dip. 2014 recruiting rankings for OSU are already last in the Pac-12.
Todd Graham stated last night after destroying the same Sacremento State team Riley was embarrassed by that “We dominated a team we were supposed to dominate.” You will never hear Riley say those words. All of Beaver Nation knows if Riley won the coin flip against Sac St or a powder puff team he would be deferring the kickoff. It is an essential makeup of his nature and not a pleasant one for blue-blooded football fans who want a team that will win with some swagger and not apologetically or meekly as Riley truly seems to prefer. Mannion and Cooks will again have good games and the tight ends will once again see plenty of action. The running game will get used more in Week 2 because OSU won’t be playing from behind for a majority of the game. I expect OSU to lead 21-10 at halftime and the second half to be only mildly less of an effort. The defense will not look great by any means but they will get 2 or 3 stops of drives in the first half and hold Hawaii to some field goals. Banker knows his seat is hot in the hearts and minds of the Oregon State faithful and he has shown once before when the heat was hot that he can throw something together to stave off enough of the criticism to save his job. Maybe with being forced to look for employment elsewhere Banker will tell Riley some clock and game management ideas instead of deferring to whoever is making some of the incredulous decisions we have witnessed.
In the 2nd half for once we get some more Woods and Wards to actually seal a victory and OSU scores 20 more to get to 41 and holds Hawaii to two 2nd half TDs for a 41-24 final and 17 point margin of victory. Every writer except the Oregonian’s Connor Letourneau will try to say the Beavers had a nice recovery and Riley got the troops focused again, but seriously this is just Hawaii. At Utah in Week 3 going up against Dennis Erickson at OC will be a far better gauge if the Beavs are going to make much of dent in Pac-12 play this year. Erickson’s role as OC is really what Riley would be well served at in the next year or two in my opinion. Young recruits don’t want a nearly 65 year old man as the face of the program. If Riley truly cared about what was best for OSU he would start to be making a graceful exit plan over the next few years max. It is best for the university to get some fresh energy and for Oregon State as a whole to be far more important then any one man or regime. With his sluggish on field performance, if OSU should fail to do better than a New Mexico or Hunger Bowl, then it is a must that Banker be released after the season. There has to be accountability for performance and the AD has to exert more pressure when the results aren’t good enough.
Canzano’s article about fans needing to demand more created a pretty interesting possible tipping point in too much of the media giving Riley too much leeway for poor game management and hard to believe blundering losses against lower division opponents. The truth is it is up to the AD and university admins to give a rats ass. The AD is passive because he knows he is under a ton of heat as well in many fans’ eyes. His contract to Riley that extends him for just going 6-6 and treating that as good as a BCS Bowl as far as longevity for the head coach and his coordinators practically guarantees that OSU will be cemented in its mediocre ways. If that is the measure of success we are being forcefed like geese to swallow through potentially 2023 or longer with a handful of 6-6 seasons then that is without doubt one tough pill to swallow. It seems like all of the madness from this most ridiculous of contracts in college sports all is going to come to a head in the next couple years. It could be this year if another 3-9 or 4-8 season results. I would hope, as does the vast majority of Beaver Nation, that that would not be enough for Banker to keep his job. The regime will try to smile about beating Hawaii but the bigger question is where is all this leading? After 12 years the answer is nowhere special. Maybe a game in Alburquerque this year and Riley and Co. will try to sell it or a Kraft Hunger Bowl next season as a job well done. Why not, another couple of extensions and Riley’s contract will already run through 2022. Oh joy!
Oregon St. 41, Hawaii 24
P.S. Some fans wondered why OSU was wearing all black on such a warm day in late August. Well because they had no other choice. With BDC supposedly axeing the orange tops with black helmets combo, they literally had no other option since the all orange look is only getting a max of 2 games this year and has been relegated to only “special occassions”. That is why having the orange and black combo is crucial for such scenarios like this so you can make a gameday decision but lack of foresight has been a big trademark of Riley and Co. for atleast the last 5 or 6 games when OSU has stumbled much too often.