Friday, August 29, 2008

Oregon State at Stanford - Pac-10 Season Opener

Hey Stanford. Maybe find a way to puts some people in the seats, eh? Having the place half-full would have been a vast improvement over the embarrassment last night. Maybe 20% occupancy? I've seen junior college games with more energy than this one. Especially given that you've got the football opener, a conference rival and a national TV audience all-in-one, you have absolutely got to find a way to get more people into that stadium. I'm sure it will get better once the students arrive, but that was ridiculous last night. The official attendance was over 30,000, but that was at least double the actual attendance...

As to the game, Stanford is definitely an improved squad under Harbaugh. They are much more run-first now with Kimble and Gerhart, although Pritchard is a good make-no-mistakes QB. They've got competitive athletes in the trenches that had been missing from the Farm for a few years and more legit DI talent than they've had recently.

Oregon State will once again improve as the season goes on. They've got some playmakers at the skill positions offensively, with particular depth at the WR position. Stroughter looks like he is back to the guy we knew a couple years back: can stretch the field as well as make plays around the line of scrimmage on end-arounds or short passes. Rogers is another talented WR, the type of guy who they will get the ball to on short passes and let him play RB from the WR position. And Morales emerged last night as a good possession third WR. Jacquez Rogers also looks like he should provide some excitement to the offense. The QB Moevao is okay if he can stay away from mistakes. It seems like after that backwards pass that went for a safety, he got a bit flustered and got out of rhythm for a few series after that (including the horrible pass in the flats that got picked by McNally and returned for a TD). He doesn't have a great arm, can't make all the throws in the book, but as long as he can keep from making the dumb mistake, the Beavers will be fine offensively. Defensively, they will improve as the season goes on, as well.

Of course the big play of the game was Catchings coming across the middle on a crossing pattern, making the catch, picking up a first down with plenty of time remaining, reaching the ball out, trying to stretch it into the end zone for the TD, setting up the potential game tying 2-point conversion. However, before the ball reached the goal line, Catchings fumbled the ball and it went into the end zone and out of bounds for a touchback, sealing the game for Stanford, in a play that looked very much like the one that ended the Oregon/Cal game last season, when the Ducks' Shawn Colvin made a very similar error to ice the game for Cal.

All in all, an entertaining start to the Pac-10 season from teams who look to be potential bowl-caliber teams this season.

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