Beavers overcome 'worst enemy'
CORVALLIS If you're a member of Beaver Nation, there was an awful lot not to like about Oregon State's season-opening 29-14 victory over Portland State Saturday at Reser Stadium.
The Beavers sustained 13 penalties 10 of them in the first half for 119 yards, scored only two touchdowns in nine trips into the red zone and never really put away the Vikings.
It was better than the season-opening losses to FCS opponents Sacramento State in 2011 and Eastern Washington in 2013, but not a satisfying performance for anyone in the Oregon State program.
"It's about the win, first and foremost," said OSU quarterback Sean Mannion, who threw for 328 yards and ran for a touchdown. "But we have some stuff to clean up."
"Right now, the bottom line is that we won the game," coach Mike Riley said. "It's not going to look like that Monday at practice. We have a lot of work to do most of it offensively.
"We've been in this boat before and lost. It's good to win, but there are a lot of things to examine in how we need to get better."
Portland State led 14-13 at halftime, and when Riley entered the Oregon State locker room at intermission, he had a question for his players.
"Who's your worst enemy?" Riley asked.
Fortunately, the OSU defenders responded in the second half.
"I was mad," Riley said afterward, "and they were madder."
Oregon State stuffed Portland State's offense after halftime, holding the Vikings to four first downs and 40 yards total offense. The visitors, who finished the game 0 for 9 on third-down conversions, had five second-half turnovers and a muffed punt after the break.
"We couldn't have done much better defensively the second half," Riley said. "We played smart. We took away what (the Vikings) were doing against us. We were sound. that was nice to see. Good veteran leadership with that group. That part of it's good. We can be pretty stable over there."
Oregon State's offense, Riley allowed, "was sporadic. Make a few plays, then not look good. It didn't feel good at all. We had some nice stuff, some good plays. But we were way too inconsistent. We didn't look like a good (offensive) team."
The Beavers dominated statistically, winning the battle in first downs (25-15), total offense (505-215), passing yardage (328-83) and time of possession (39:26 to 20:34). Storm Woods rushed 16 times for 126 yards and caught a 23-yard touchdown pass, and freshman kicker Garrett Owens debuted with five field goals.
But the Orangemen were 3 for 14 on third-down conversions, and in five second-half possessions that began inside the Portland State 35-yard line, they came away with 10 points. Owens kicked field goals of 25, 25, 26, 31 and 23 yards, all after Oregon State entered the red zone.
"We left a lot (of points) on the field," said receiver Richard Mullaney, who caught five passes for 55 yards. "We know we can do a lot better."
"We have to get stronger mentally," Woods said. "When we come across those good teams in the Pac-12, those have to be touchdowns instead of field goals."
The Oregon State offense was a comedy of errors from the first play, when center Josh Mitchell snapped the ball over Mannion's head for an 18-yard loss.
"That was a pretty good indicator of how it was going to be," Riley said. "I haven't seen one of those in all of (training) camp. It came out of the blue."
The Beavers had great field position in the second half thanks to turnovers but still scored only 16 points after intermission, and had two touchdowns in the game, only one after venturing inside the PSU 20.
"We pride ourselves in scoring a touchdown every time in the red zone," Mannion said. "We have to be able to capitalize when (the OSU defenders) give us an extra possession."
It took a half for Oregon State's defense to figure out Portland State's pistol offense. Reserve Paris Penn got loose for a pair of long runs -- a 58-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw and a scramble for 35 yards -- as the Vikings made the Beavers pay for over-pursuit.
"We were playing helter-skelter football there for awhile," Riley said. "Just running up the field, not staying in lanes and not paying attention to responsibility."
Oregon State's defense clamped down in the second half, intercepting two passes, recovering three fumbles and dominating the line of scrimmage.
"One of the key ingredients in winning is getting better within the game," Riley said. "Defensively, we did that, which was nice to see."
"I knew we had to make some plays," said safety Ty Zimmerman, who had two interceptions and five tackles. "We started out slow, but we knew we'd get things going. We feed off each other."
"The first half, there are obvious things we need to work on," defensive end Dylan Wynn said. "I like think it's a little bit of first-game jitters, but our defense started to get in the right direction of where we should be."
Wynn had a third-down roughing-the-passer penalty that sustained a Portland State drive, one of four OSU penalties three of them major that led to a Viking touchdown in the first half.
"It had a real bad feeling for what our team was about there for a while," Riley said. "One of the redeeming things was how we responded defensively in the second half, though. It still wasn't very pretty, but we went out the second half with good intentions."
NOTES: Mannion was 26 for 45 passing and had no interceptions, but was not particularly sharp throwing the ball, especially in the second half. "Everyone's going to have grow from this game -- myself more than anyone," said Mannion, who moved past UCLA's Cade McNown, Southern Cal's Matt Leinart and Arizona State's Andrew Walter and Rudy Carpenter into sixth place on the Pac-12 career list with 10,764 passing yards. Mannion's 6-yard run in the second quarter was the first TD off a scramble in his career. "We only needed six yards," he quipped. "I can fall forward for three." Owens was 5 for 7 on field-goal attempts. He kicked a 26-yard try off the left upright in the fourth quarter. At the end of the first half, he made a 50-yard try, but referees ruled that Portland State had called timeout before the play. On the next attempt, Owens missed it wide right. "I'm going to want both misses back," Owens said, "but it's something to build on." Riley, on Oregon State's problems scoring TDs in the red zone: "If you want to be a good red-zone team, you're going to get a bulk of your touchdowns running the ball. We were only OK in the run game today. We have to have better execution in the passing game, too." Wynn, on defending PSU's Penn, who had 112 yards and two TDs on nine carries: "In our league, every quarterback is a running back. We had holes in our defense. It's something we'll get fixed." Wynn, on taking the FCS Vikings seriously: "We knew they were no joke. We weren't looking past them at all. They're a good team. They came out hitting and had a lot of explosive plays." Portland State is now 2-31 vs. FBS opponents and 0-13 against Pac-12 foes. Woods broke loose for a career-long 50-yrd run in the first quarter.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Portland State 0 14 0 0 -- 14
Oregon State 6 7 13 3 -- 29
OSU -- Garrett Owens 25 FG 8:04
OSU -- Owens 25 FG 1:10
PSU -- Paris Penn 58 run (Jonathan Gonzales kick) 1:48
OSU -- Sean Mannion 6 run (Owens kick) 9:36
PSU -- Penn 11 run (Gonzales kick) 5:38
OSU -- Owens 26 FG 10:58
OSU -- Storm Woods 23 pass from Mannion (Owens kick) 5:07
OSU -- Owens 31 FG 3:32
OSU -- Owens 23 FG 3:42
ATT. -- 40,309