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MailTribune.com
  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Beavers far from defensive about sloppy play

  • CORVALLIS — Oregon State got the defensive stop it needed to have a chance at beating Eastern Washington on Saturday — but that was the only one the 25th-ranked Beavers managed.
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  • "CORVALLIS — Oregon State got the defensive stop it needed to have a chance at beating Eastern Washington on Saturday — but that was the only one the 25th-ranked Beavers managed.
    OSU made the Eagles, ranked fourth nationally in the lower-level Football Championship Subdivision, punt just once during a 49-46 nonconference loss at Reser Stadium. That helped the Beavers rally from a 12-point halftime deficit into a third-quarter lead; hold once more and the suddenly clicking Oregon State offense might have kept OSU in front the rest of the way.
    It never happened. Eastern Washington, which had scored on its first six possessions, punched in touchdowns on its last three to score the upset. The Eagles — national semifinalists last season — shredded OSU's defense for 625 yards.
    A year ago, the Beavers had allowed averages of just 20.6 points and 354 yards per game in posting a 9-4 record. Saturday, those performances seemed a distant memory.
    "Until we fix it, there's a major concern," OSU head coach Mike Riley said of his team's defense. "Until we get in better position, tackle better, make some plays "¦ that quarterback (EWU's Vernon Adams Jr.) really made some unbelievable escape plays, bought time and just executed so well that we have a lot to look at to work to get better. That's a good way to put it."
    Riley rattled off some of the Beavers' defensive shortcomings against the Eagles: not being in position to make plays, not tackling well, not taking advantage of opportunities to get Eastern Washington's offense off the field, etc.
    "I think the thing started early in the game when we had them third-and-14 and we bust a coverage and they throw the ball deep down the field, kind of just a prayer, and nobody from our team is there," Riley said. "I think it just started off kind of like that and got worse."
    OSU was missing junior linebacker D.J. Alexander due to a knee injury, and other injuries during fall camp prevented the Beavers from live scrimmages — and live tackling — in the weeks leading up to the opener.
    "That's not an excuse," senior cornerback Rashaad Reynolds said. "We've played football for a long time so that's something we should know how to do. It was sloppy out there today and we've got to clean that up."
    Reynolds is part of a secondary expected to be one of OSU's strengths this season, even having seen Jordan Poyer graduate and head for the National Football League. Saturday, those returning defensive backs struggled to cover EWU's receivers as Adams and backup Anthony Vitto passed for 448 yards.
    "Our performance wasn't good obviously," Reynolds said. "If you watched the game I think that will tell you everything. As far as what went wrong, nothing. Eastern Washington came in here and played a good game and we didn't play to our potential."
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