Three games into the season and the Oregon State football team is still looking for an identity on offense.
Coach Gary Andersen wants a team that can run and throw with equal success, but the Beavers have not been able to establish the run and that has slowed the development of the pass game.
Neither the run nor the pass worked against Minnesota in the final two quarters of a 48-14 loss on Saturday.
"So I would say right now offensively we don't have a tremendous identity and we don't have the ability to consistently throw it or consistently run it, and we've got to be able to find that and get the right kids in the right spots to get better," Andersen said.
"So we're a football team with not much of an identity on the offensive side of the ball right now."
Rough second-half play
Breakdowns in the second half have been a problem for the Beavers this season.
After a day to look at film of Saturday's loss, Andersen said the defensive play was a little better, but the offense was ineffective.
Minnesota outscored the Beavers 28-0 in the second half.
"The things that we talk about that we're trying to correct and somewhat gotten better on the defensive side of the ball would be our tackling, especially on the outside edges of the defense, it was much improved last game," Andersen said.
The Beavers' D did not allow the Gophers to break a big play until quarterback Demry Croft got away for a 64-yard score late in the game.
The Gophers scored on a 14-yard drive after the Beavers lost a fumble, then went on back-breaking 71- and 77-yard TD drives before Croft's big play capped the scoring.
"We let the big one get out there on the end that shouldn't have happened, but it did, so obviously it's not fixed the way it needs to be," Andersen said. "That's the big one on that side."
The offense was unable to keep drives going in the second half. The Beavers went three and out on four of six drives, fumbled the ball away on the second play of their second possession of the half and had a four-play drive end in a punt.
"And just offensively being able to sustain for a period of time and sustain that and not necessarily touchdown after touchdown after touchdown. I'm not saying that," Andersen said. "But our ability to be able to have an offense that can sustain drives and keep us on the field.
"The last game was, I don't know if I've seen that before with that few of plays and that little of yardage in a half of football. When you're playing like that, it's going to be really tough for the defense to hang in there and do (its) job."
Time of possession
The Beavers were able to hold the ball on offense last season, finishing with an average time of possession of 30 minutes, 47 seconds to the opposition's 29:13.
This year the Beavers have kept the ball for 23:31 while their opponents have had it for 36:19 a game. Turnovers have hurt. The Beavers have had 10 drives stopped by turnovers, with six coming on lost fumbles.
Andersen said the scheme is the first place to look and it will be a big challenge for the offensive coaches.
"You look at getting the best kids on the field, you look at yourself as a coach and try to put the kids in a position where they can succeed. That clearly did not take place last game and so absolutely we'll look at it from a schematic standpoint. That's what those coaches are paid to do.
"At the end of the day it needs to be productive, it needs to be much more productive to give us an opportunity to be able to compete and play and win football games."
Andersen had a preseason goal of 40 sacks but the Beavers do not have one after three games.
Part of the reason is the type of quarterbacks the Beavers have faced, and OSU did have five QB hurries against Colorado State, but that dropped to one against Portland State and none against Minnesota.
"I really felt like we were getting a good push in the Colorado State game," Andersen said. "Portland State game we were chasing around an athletic quarterback that we didn't get to either, and this last game they didn't throw the ball hardly at all and most of the time it was on a play-action or a (run-pass option) where you didn't really have the opportunity to rush the quarterback in this last game with the number of throws and the way they were getting the ball out, the quickness that it came out."
Nevertheless, the Beavers need to find a way to keep up the pressure and get to the quarterback.
"It has to improve," Andersen said. "That's the bottom line, and it goes back to it's our responsibility as coaches to give them the opportunity to get there and have the presence around the quarterback."
Luke Falk banged up
Washington State quarterback Luke Falk has been a thorn in the side of Oregon State since he first took the field for the Cougars.
Falk has had big games against the Beavers in every meeting. But he might not be able to play this Saturday in Pullman after suffering an apparent head injury during a wild win over Boise State.
He was replaced by Tyler Hilinsky, who led the Cougars to the win. He completed 25 of 33 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns.
"The offense itself, the structure of the offense won't change regardless of the quarterback," Andersen said. "We'll prepare no differently if it's Luke or if it's the other quarterback that's going to come in and play. The other young man came in and won a football game for them. So he obviously did some good things, and the system is in place and I'm sure he's ready to execute it or whichever quarterback is in there will be ready to execute it."
WSU coach Mike Leach said on Monday that there is no QB controversy and Falk will start against OSU.