In size vs. speed battle, Beavs come up short

In size vs. speed battle, Beavs come up short

IT WASN'T ABOUT the passing game or the ability to run the football. The real battle Saturday night in the Alamo Bowl was in the trenches - and both defensive lines asserted their will. But the Beavs' Cody Vaz felt the most heat. In the end, the Texas front seven blew the Beavers away like a gust of cold Texas wind. And there are questions galore in the final analysis.

Cody Vaz was named the starter against Texas largely because he had proven himself less likely to turn the ball over throughout the course of the season. Within the first six minutes of the game, the junior starter turned it over twice.

But the Alamo Bowl was a story of 10 sacks, and this tale had a bitter ending.

Some will call it a very obvious case of nerves for the junior quarterback Vaz. Others will blame the slow release time Vaz displayed all night long.

Some may even lend a lot of the credit to the Texas secondary, which allowed just 192 yards through the air and not-a-one touchdown in the process. An impressive feat, few teams can boast that they managed to snuff the flame under the feet of both Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton.

Texas was unable to stop Storm Woods, only a second half injury could do that. Woods ended the day with 118 rushing yards and two TD's, and was a sure bet to receive the player of the game nomination if OSU had won.

But allowing 10 sacks effectively changes the course of just about any game, and that responsibility primarily falls on the shoulders of the Beavers' offensive line – an offensive line that has typically performed well this season in pass protection. What happened in the bowl game that made for such a different story?

WHEN IT COMES down to brass tacks, it was all about size versus speed on Saturday night.

It helps explain the Beavs going 3-11 on third down conversions, and an overworked offensive line that just couldn't cope.

The Texas defensive line tossed a combination of size and speed at the OSU front five that the likes of Michael Philipp, Colin Kelly and true freshman center Isaac Seumalo just couldn't quite handle. Oregon State was not physically big enough to turn back the tide, especially when Texas sold out on the blitz.

Texas had virtually no momentum heading into the second half, yet they finished out with a four point lead and the win. How?

When a rushing attack has success to the tune of 184 yards and three touchdowns, the passing usually begins to follow suit. Instead, 81 of those yards are swooped away courtesy of sacks and shoddy blocking across the board. Offense starts and ends with the offensive line, and Mike Cavanaugh's boys just couldn't pull it together tonight.

Oregon State's loss in the Alamo Bowl will leave fans with numerous questions, as most losses do, as to the OSU quarterbacks. My biggest question marks rest with the offensive line, whose lack luster performance was wholly unanticipated heading into this bout. But there are bound to be other queries…

Did Mike Riley and the OSU staff make some questionable calls? Should the Beavs have assigned another blocker over to help Kelly with Alex Okafor (4.5 sacks, one fumble forced and numerous hurries)? Was the starting defense for the Beavs over-extended due to the suspensions of Rudolf Fifita and Mana Rosa?

Perhaps.

In my eyes, the prevailing question should remains - "They made it this far in 2012, what will 2013 bring?"

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • Oregon State surpassed the single season touchdown record for OSU (previously 52 set in 2003) on a run by Terron Ward that went for six.

  • A positive notch under the belt for the Beavs when you really look at it – a team that had struggled with running the ball all year long puts up a total of 184 yards on the ground.
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