PULLMAN – What’s going on at Oregon State?
The Beavers, a trendy pick in the Pac-10 after last season’s 10-4 record and Sun Bowl victory, are 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference after last week’s 40-14 meltdown against UCLA.
That game turned in the fourth quarter, when the Beavers coughed up a 14-12 lead with a mystifying sequence of turnovers – their big problem this season.
After UCLA scored early in the fourth to take a 19-12 lead, OSU’s Gerard Lawson fumbled three consecutive kickoff returns and UCLA blocked a punt. Oregon State turned the ball over five times.
“I’m tired of it because it is a killer,” OSU head coach Mike Riley said in a conference call Tuesday. “There is no question that one of the major reasons that we are where we are is because we have turned the ball over.
“Now we have found all different ways to do it. It was interceptions early and we still had a couple of those that were unnecessary. Then the special teams turnovers and then the blocked punt. Those are all reasons for what has happened.”
Oregon State has lost more turnovers (21) and has had more passes intercepted (15) this year than any team in the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division 1-A).
The Beavers are 115 out of the 119 FBS teams in turnover margin.
In the Pac-10, OSU has yielded 47 points off turnovers, prompting Riley to tell the Oregonian, “It’s scary.”
“I worry about what a game like that does to a team,” he said. “I also have a lot of faith in our team and our coaching staff. I think we’ll prepare, and prepare well for Arizona. … But that was hard. How do you go into the fourth quarter of a game leading 14-12 and lose 40-14? That’s pretty unusual.”
The Beavers host Arizona this week with the Wildcats coming off their best game of the season, the 48-20 win over Washington State.
“Tough things happen in this game,” outside linebacker Joey LaRocque told the Corvallis Gazette-Times. “We just have to bounce back and perform to our capabilities. We had a couple of tough breaks. I’m sure we are going to rebound. It’s going to start clicking for four quarters soon.”
Colvin defends stretch
Corvallis isn’t the only city in Oregon perplexed by its football team. Oregon may be 4-1 and ranked 14th in the nation, but the way the Ducks lost to Cal on Saturday has people in Eugene shaking their heads.
Oregon trailed 31-24 as time was winding down. The Ducks drove deep into Cal territory and, with about 20 seconds left, Dennis Dixon connected with Cameron Colvin on the left sideline near the goal line.
As Colvin tried to stretch the ball across the goal line, Bears safety Marcus Ezeff delivered a blow, knocking the ball loose and through the end zone. With so much riding on the play, the officials took their time upholding the ruling on the field it was a fumble and a touchback. Cal ball. Oregon loss.
Oregon coach Mike Bellotti criticized Colvin afterward, saying the Ducks wide receivers have been reminded often – and loudly – not to try to stretch the ball forward.
Colvin was having none of it.
“I think down there that close, you have to make an effort, if it’s possible to get it out there,” Colvin told the Oregonian.
Around the conference
USC has been slammed by injuries. Freshman center Kris O’Dowd has a dislocated kneecap and will have arthroscopic surgery, guard Chilo Rachal sprained a knee ligament on the same play and they both could miss three weeks. Tailback Stafon Johnson had his foot in a boot Monday and C.J. Gable is still out with a groin injury. … Arizona lost starting safety Dominic Patrick to a knee injury in the WSU game and the Wildcats are thinking of moving shutdown corner Antoine Cason in his spot. … UCLA is trying to avenge last year’s late loss to Notre Dame, a game in which the Bruins led 17-13 with 1 minute, 29 seconds left. … No. 3 Cal, No. 14 Oregon and unranked Washington all have byes this week.
Punter Darryl Blunt has been suspended indefinitely for what coach Bill Doba termed “conduct detrimental to the team.” Doba wouldn’t elaborate on any specific actions that led to the suspension. Blunt, a junior transfer from Portland State who averaged 41.4 yards per punt last season, started the season as the No. 1 punter but struggled at times, averaging 36.1 this season. After he dropped a snap in the USC game, he was replaced by Reid Forrest, who also punted last week in Arizona. … Starting defensive end Kevin Kooyman left Tuesday’s practice early after suffering an injury to his left pinky finger. He was taken for X-rays, which proved negative, but the injury looked severe enough to bring his status for Saturday’s game into doubt. … Linebacker Alex Hamill had a treadmill test scheduled for Tuesday on his injured right foot. He said he could be back at practice today if he could run without pain.
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