Scouting the Beavers

Both Oregon State and Arizona are reeling. The Beavers have never gotten on track this season, while after a 3-0 start the Cats have gotten derailed. The Beavers were ranked highly in the pre-season polls, but so far they have not been able to replace the players who departed after last season's 11-1 record and Fiesta Bowl thrashing of Notre Dame

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"They've had injuries and a whole turnover of their team," John Mackovic said of Oregon State's poor start.

The Beavers lost a ton of starters but still return their quarterback, Jonathan Smith. On paper the undersized Smith doesn't appear to have much, but the game isn't played on paper. Smith has completely digested the system and knows how the run the offense. This season Smith has struggled at times. He's completed 52% of his passes but he's only passed for 777 yards and has tossed 5 interceptions. The good news is that Arizona's pass rush has been limited in the past few weeks due to injuries and Smith can be dangerous with time to throw.

The Beavers lost the bulk of their receiving corps and the newcomers haven't been able to adequately fill their shoes.

"We lost some awfully good receivers," said Beaver coach Denis Erickson. "We're not able to throw the ball quite as well as last year."

James Newson and Tim Euhus have been Smith's favorite targets. Newson has 19 catches, while Euhus has 12. No other Beaver has more than nine catches.

Like Smith, Ken Simonton has struggled as well. The pre-season Heisman candidate has only amassed 256 yards all season. Teams are keying in on him and it's worked.

"He's a competitor," Erickson said of his senior running back. "He hasn't had a lot of yards, but he hasn't had a lot of places to go."

The Oregon State defense has struggled as well. The team returned five starters, but one of them was Calvin Carlysle who is out for the year. The Beavers' are giving up 34.5 points per game, and even gave up 22 to a poor New Mexico State club.

The Wildcat offense could rebound against the Beaver defense, but the Beavers are looking to do the same against a depleted Wildcat front seven.

OUTLOOK: Both of these teams need a win desperately. The Beavers have only won one game against New Mexico State, while the Wildcats were blown out by Washington State and Oregon. If either team has any hope of the post season, they must win this one. The loser will be in line for a very long season. Both teams have a lot of question marks. If Arizona can field enough healthy bodies up front, they might win, if not it could be a long night. Either way, expect a lot of points to be scored.

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