2008 Record: 4-3, 3-1 Pac-10 Head Coach: Mike Riley
Last Week: BYE
OFFENSE *Projected Starters
WR Sammie Stroughter, SR
LT Andy Levitre, SR
LG Adam Speer, SR
C Alex Linnenkohl, SO
RG Gregg Peat, JR
RT Mike Remmers, FR
TE Howard Croom, JR
WR Shane Morales, SR
WR James Rodgers, SO
QB Lyle Moevao, JR
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, FR
The Oregon State Beavers have rallied around a pair of brothers, Jacquizz and James Rodgers, to produce most of the offense this season and the formula has worked with surprising success. Earlier in the season, the upstart Beavers were able to topple Pac-10 juggernaut USC for the second time in three years at Reser Stadium with huge contributions coming from both of the Rodgers brothers.
Jacquizz Rodgers will gather most of his yards carrying the ball. He has seen less than twenty carries a game only once this season and that was the first game of the year. The true freshman has been dynamic and already has nine touchdowns after only seven games. Many believe that his diminutive stature gives him an immediate advantage because he can hide better behind the offensive line.
Junior quarterback Lyle Moevao has settled in nicely and become a much more efficient quarterback than he was in 2007. The stout signal caller already has four times as a many touchdowns as he did in 2007 in the same number of games and with a talented fleet of receivers could give the Arizona State defense trouble.
Wide receiver Sammie Stroughter played in only two games in 2007 but one was against the Sun Devils and he found success reeling in six receptions for over 100 yards. Stroughter is also a dangerous return man and overall is a threat to take the ball to the house every time he gets his hands on it.
DE Victor Butler, SR
DT Pernnell Booth, JR
DT Stephen Paea, JR
DE Slade Norris, SR
SLB Keaton Kristick, JR
MLB Bryant Cornell, SR
WLB Keith Pankey, SO
CB Keenan Lewis, SR
S Al Afalava, SR
S Greg Laybourn, SR
CB Brandon Hughes, SR
Oregon State has been known for having a tough defense ever since head coach Mike Riley took over and this year is no different. Defensive ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris rank 14th and 16th, respectively, in career sacks at Oregon State and could give an inexperienced Arizona State offensive line trouble all night. Norris has been particularly productive in recent games collecting 18 tackles, 4.5 sacks and six tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Oregon State's group of linebackers are all relatively similar in terms of experience with either seven or eight starts. Strongside linebacker Keaton Kristick has been effective and had a highlight reel game against USC in which he recorded ten tackles. This is a unit with two deep depth and players will rotate a fair amount. Isaiah Cook, David Pa'aluhi, and Dwight Roberson will all see significant time at linebacker in addition to the three starters.
There is experience to spare in the secondary for the Beavers. Cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes have a combined 77 starts. Safety Al Aflava has 30 starts to his name and has been known to deliver bone-crushing hits from time to time. Lewis has made the All Pac-10 academic team three years running and was the team leader in interceptions in 2007. Senior safety Greg Laybourn has been active all year and is currently leading the Pac-10 in tackles with 62.
K Justin Kahur, SO
P Johnny Hekker, FR
KR James Rodgers, SO
PR Sammie Stroughter, SR
Oregon State's return game on both punts and kickoffs is impressive and could definitely win the Beavers a few ball games. Stroughter is a household name in the Pac-10 when it comes to returning punts and with the Sun Devils' punting situation unsettled could be due for a big game on Saturday.
Punting and kicking the ball has been a little bit more of a challenge for Oregon State. Kicker Justin Kahut has only converted on six out of ten field goal attempts and has yet to convert on an attempt outside of 37 yards. Freshman punter Johnny Hekker has struggled some himself and is only managing 35.8 yards per punt.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR ARIZONA STATE
1. Quick Defensive Start: The last two times Arizona State has played the defense has come out first and allowed quick touchdown drives in both games. In those contests, Oregon and USC marched down the field and after seemingly easy touchdowns drives never relinquished control. It is imperative for the Sun Devils to slow the Beavers offense early if they want any chance at keeping the game close.
2. Freshman Running Backs : Two true freshman running backs could be the key to both team's offensive success. Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers has already established himself as one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the conference and if Arizona State is going to halt the Beaver offense stopping Rodgers will be paramount. Sun Devil freshman Ryan Bass is looking to make an even bigger splash after rushing for 56 yards against Oregon, and could give hope to a struggling Sun Devil running back corps.
3. Correct Special Teams Problems : After a season when special teams were a distinctive strength for the Sun Devils, the play of this group has gone south in 2008. Lou Groza award winner Thomas Weber is struggling with his field goals and coach Dennis Erickson attempted to make a change at punter, inserting walk-on Trevor Hankins, that hasn't worked as planned so far.
Kick and punt returner Kyle Williams is out with a concussion. Thus, Omar Bolden and Nate Kimbrough will have to find success when they respectively pick up those duties. All in all, it would hard to imagine a Sun Devil win on Saturday without this group having a solid outing.
KEYS TO VICTORY FOR OREGON STATE
1. Screens: It should be evident for anyone watching defensive game film of the Sun Devils, but the Arizona State defense is nearly incapable of stopping a screen for short or negative yardage on a consistent basis. Oregon State has the speed and talent to carve up ASU with short routes similar to what Oregon did last Saturday.
2. Crowd Noise: If the Arizona State defense surrenders a quick seven points like they have been in recent weeks, then the boisterous Beaver crowd will become an even bigger factor. The Arizona State offense is already struggling and vulnerable and any added crowd noise will only further deter the already stagnant offense.
3. Turnovers : Although the Sun Devil defense has been giving up a lot of points they have been forcing a surprising amount of turnovers. If the Oregon State offense coughs up the ball over a couple times early, Arizona State may be able to capitalize on an early momentum swing.