CORVALLIS — The big number — the score — was in Oregon State’s favor when things wrapped up Saturday afternoon at Reser Stadium, with the Beavers rallying for a 35-32 nonconference football win over Portland State. The other figures weren’t so sanguine for the home team.
PSU — which resides one rung lower on the NCAA football division pecking order than Oregon State — outgained the Beavers 515 yards to 389 in total offense. That’s a Viking offense that managed 202 yards in a season-opening loss the previous week at Brigham Young.
Additionally, the Colorado State team that had gone for 58 points and 525 yards against Oregon State was limited to a field goal and 397 yards in a 17-3 loss to Colorado of the Pacific-12 Friday night.
“Overall defensively, we obviously have a long ways to go,” Oregon State head coach Gary Andersen said after the Beavers escaped with Saturday’s victory.
Portland State rushed for nearly twice as many yards — 291 to 154 — as OSU. PSU freshman quarterback Jalani Eason was masterful with his fake handoffs and carries, helping him rush for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries before being hurt early in the fourth quarter and running back Za’Quan Summers also benefited, going for 106 yards on 18 carries.
“I don’t think they caught us off guard,” said Oregon State linebacker Manase Hungalu, who scored on a 21-yard interception return for his first career touchdown. “It was just gap sound — too many times we had an issue of fitting on the ball, whether he’s running right or left we all have got to fit (into the proper gap), and that didn’t happen and that’s why all those big runs were happening. And obviously we need more tackling and pushback.”
Added Andersen: “My biggest problem right now is, there’s not one part of the run game defense (that he can fault). The edge of the defense isn’t secured where they need to be, the middle of the defense is soft at times. We have to become a team that can tackle and secure the edges.
“The thing I’m surprised is, we’re not where we need to be … I know we’re a lot better; we just need to continue to work with them. Youth cannot be an excuse. We have seven young guys on the field at that point, and that’s what we’ve got. We’ve got five, we’ve got three — it is what it is.”
BEAVERS ON THE RUN: The other part off that rushing discrepancy in OSU’s first two games is that Oregon State hasn’t been as productive on the ground as it would like to be. With talented backs in Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, Thomas Tyner and Trevorris Johnson, the Beavers went into the season hoping to rush the ball about 60 percent of the time; through two games, they’ve run it 61 times and passed it 72 — though runs outnumbered passes 32-25 against the Vikings.
With junior college transfer Jake Luton in his first season at quarterback, OSU’s opponents have stacked their defense to make him beat them with the throw rather than have Nall and Co. run through or over them. The Beavers are averaging 5.01 yards per carry, but throw out Nall’s 75-yard run against CSU and that figure drops to 3.85.
“It’s difficult when the defense knows we’re primarily a running team and they’re going to try to stack the box,” said Nall, who rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown against PSU. “They’re going to try to do different things to make sure we don’t run on them, but that shouldn’t change things for us. We should be able to buckle down and go on from there — make one guy miss. We should get hats on who we can, and then it’s our job as running backs to make that extra guy miss. I think we’re starting to get there.”
Pierce gained 34 yards, Johnson 21 and Tyner 10 against PSU.
QUARTERBACK DUO: Oregon State’s second leading rusher was quarterback Darell Garretson, who split time with Luton behind center. Garretson, the starter a year ago, lent another running threat to the Beaver backfield.
“We knew he was going to get in,” said Luton, the starter. “I love it — I think it’s exciting to let him get out there and be an athlete, switch up the offense a little bit. It’s a one-two punch. He’s a little bit faster than me — not much.”
That drew a smile from Luton and a laugh from Nall, seated next to him in the interview room. Continued Luton: “But I thought he did a great job. I was really excited when he got that rushing touchdown.
Garretson ran for 29 yards and that four-yard score on six carries and didn’t attempt a pass; Luton was 18-for-25 passing for 235 yards and one touchdown and scrambled once for five yards. Garretson had one fumble and Luton one interception.
“There’s a play Darell would like to get back, there’s a play Jake would like to get back,” Andersen said. “It’s not going to be perfect, but I like it because we have to have a little bit more. When I say that, we have to have a little bit more on offense.
“There is no quarterback controversy, those kids understand the situation … Darrell will have a package (of plays) for us, and we need him. He causes some problems with his legs and he can still run the offense very well, which he’s shown at times. We need them both and we’re going to use them both.”
ODDS AND ENDS: Saturday’s 11:02 a.m. kickoff is believed to be the earliest in OSU’s football history … OSU is now 5-0 all-time against Portland State … Oregon State is 14-4 in home openers since 2000 … Andersen is 9-1 in home openers, including 3-1 at OSU … Oregon State was perfect in the red zone against PSU, scoring four touchdowns on its four trips inside the Viking 20-yard line … Nall now has 1,580 career rushing yards, moving him into 15th place on OSU’s all-time list. Saturday he passed James Fields, who rushed for 1,535 yards from 1976-78.