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Stuff and Shenanigans: Clubbin’ Beavers

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And thank you, seniors.

Oregon State v Washington
This is legit the first picture I’ve seen of Jake Browning with his helmet off during the post-game handshakes. Huh, there’s a first for everything.
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Intros are still dumb, but just a reminder that you can make them a little bit less dumb by sending 14 easy payments of $0.44 to Paypal.me/gabeynotgabby and, in return, I’ll write a limerick or, like, something, about how great you are in next week’s edition.

Anyhoo, since we’d all rather I drill any number of power tools into my frontal lobe than read another word that’s not actually about last weekend’s game of ball-of-the-foot, I’m gonna go ahead and shut up so you can get to the following:

A 100% Accurate and 83% Sober Rundown of Absolutely Everything

Really this game was about how, in the first half, Washington has the potential to execute so cleanly and consistently and how, in the second half, Washington could get away with not being their best simply because they’re a far superior team; against someone else, this may have been worrisome.

Fortunately for us, it wasn’t against someone better — although, as I’ve been saying for most of the year, Oregon State’s offense isn’t anything to scoff at.

My first thought is that Benning Potoa’e and Tevis Bartlett — on OSU’s second half Bradford reverse — took angles that were so hilarious terrible that, if said angles were USC coaches, they would be fired on a tarmac. (Or hired in place of someone just fired on a tarmac, depending on what year USC we’re talking about here.) Otherwise they were pretty alright Saturday, but hoo boy. (Side note: I’ve noticed over the years it’s a more common thing in football than other sports for guys to run directly to where a ball-carrier is instead of where he’s going to be; whether this is because every testosterone-fueled guy whose primary existence is predicated on him being super tough and one of the most physically unbelievable people in the world subsequently overestimates his own speed and ability, or if all defensive coaches in history haven’t figured out math and vectors and taught their players that, who knows. But lots of dudes could benefit from studying under Wayne Gretzky’s philosophy. But I digress.)

My second thought isn’t so much about this game as it is about the evolution of a certain unit’s season; namely, the rags to riches to back to rags arc of the receivers from this summer to now. I don’t know if I’m alone in this (probably not, but I’ve been wrong before), that the preseason started out with me being terrified of how that group would hold up (before you start shouting obscenities at me possibly thinking I’d be alone here, that’s not the “I might be alone in this” part), then pleasantly surprised at the combination of Aaron Fuller’s improvement, Ty Jones’ emergence, and Pounds’ and Baccellia’s support — especially in their newfound ability to complete catches that involved fighting a squirrelly loser defensive back for on longer curl routes, fades, and the like — then slowly back to not trusting them to consistently do what they have to do.

Conversely, almost all of Oregon State’s explosive passing plays were the result of their receivers making contested, difficult catches that Washington’s receivers have looked like they’re too weenies to make; Bradford’s one-handed catch over Myles Bryant or Hodgins over Byron Murphy (wait, was that the one-handed one? Whatever) — all of those were against really good coverage, in situations where I wouldn’t trust the Huskies’ corresponding players to do the same. Or, more accurately — since we’ve seen incredible grabs by both Fuller and Jones and the ghost of Quinten Pounds from time to time — I wouldn’t trust them to do the same now, for whatever reason. Two months ago, I’d have said to bring it.

Whether the decline is because the receivers are just on a month-and-a-half vacation and secretly kick ass, are regressing to the mean, or were fueled by a combo of adrenaline, PCP, and whatever the Stasi injected East German athletes with before running out of supply sometime after BYU, who knows.

That unit isn’t even bad, they’re just not dependable. I feel like they could beat almost any defense and also lose to almost any defense. It’s confusing. Make up your minds, dudes.

On the plus side in the passing game, Browning did on Saturday what people have been clamoring for this entire year: Throw a hot load of beautiful passes all while getting pulverized so gloriously that even Dresden circa 1944 was like “Ow, dude.”

While it sucks seeing him get drilled, the offensive line’s pass blocking was fantastic 99% of the time and somehow it made those few hard hits all the more satisfying since each one turned into a massive gain and was the antithesis of the main source of Browning’s criticism this season.

Which brings us to tonight’s word the reason we’re all here. And that reason is Jaxson Kirkland and his weirdly spelled name.

Because listen, I know we all love to get psyched up about young guys and their #ceiling and #potential and #IWasAFanBeforeHeWasFamous-possibilities, and by “we” I mean “you all but especially me because I’m an insufferably cocky keener,” and I also know I’ve already called dibs on getting credit for Kirkland when he’s All-Pac-12-and-or-maybe-dare-we-dream-All-American down the road, but I’m just here to do that again. Because his performance was, by my estimation, the best of all the linemen; Gaskin’s bajillion yard run on the third play of the game was made possible by Blue Apron and viewers like you a Kirkland pull that was *Italian chef’s kiss* while the other Big Fat Gaskin Run was the same thing. And so was Gaskin’s wildcat touchdown.

Plus a quick shout-out to Luke Wattenberg, who also had a good pull block on Ahmed’s option touchdown.

Just in general, Saturday was a good day for guards.

On the other hand, no matter how good the offense or defense are on any given Saturday, they have to play alongside this special teams unit, which is like getting in a Krav Maga fight but also you don’t have arms or legs. Or eyes. Or ears. Plus you’re fighting on an empty stomach and a bad night’s sleep. I don’t know if that analogy makes sense but I’m just trying to say that they’re a gall-darned handicap, that’s all.

Lastly, some thoughts on Oregon State:

  1. Jonathan Smith is so ballsy as an underdog. Could you be anymore of a Petersen coaching tree product?
  2. I love point 1.
  3. How on Zeus’s sweet Earth does Oregon State of all people always pull some random, heart-crushing running back out of their ass every. Freaking. Year?

That is all.

Lines of the Week

People who’d been paying attention to Jermar Jefferson this season, to all the people not afraid of Jermar Jefferson:

Petersen to Jonathan Smith getting all sneaky and tricky, probably:

And then:

And finally, us when Washington became less great and didn’t stay the course to score 70 points:

Do good things, don’t do bad things, and bow down to Washington.