Side By Side: OSU at Arizona (Revised)

Both Oregon State and Arizona are coming off their first Pac-10 wins of the season as the Beavers defeated Washington 27-17 in Seattle while the Wildcats beat Stanford 20-7 in Palo Alto.

LAST WEEK: Arizona snapped a three-game losing streak with a 20-7 win over Stanford. Arizona scored on three of their first four drives but went conservative after a knee injury to quarterback Adam Austin.

Austin injured his MCL when he threw an interception to Wopamo Osaisai, which he returned 72 yards for Stanford's only score

Before leaving the game Austin was 6-9 for 63 yards. He was making his second career start, subbing in for normal starter Willie Tuitama who was suffering from a concussion.

Heavner came in and saw his first action since the 2004 season. With a 17-7 lead and the Stanford offense doing nothing, the Wildcat offense got ultra conservative and threw just four passes the rest of the way. Heavner completed all four attempts for just 11 yards but did lead the Cats to the only score of the second half.

Arizona, who had been held to negative yards rushing their last three games, rushed for over 220 yards. Chris Jennings rushed for 89 yards on just 17 carries and got the Cats on the scoreboard when he capped the opening drive with a 16-yard scoring run.

Chris Henry added 91 yards and scored the second Wildcat touchdown on an 18-yard run.

The defense knocked starting quarterback Trent Edwards out of the game and T.C. Ostrander came in to finish things up for the Cardinal. Neither could muster much as Arizona held Stanford to just 52 total yards, the lowest total since Arizona entered the Pac-10 in the 70's.

LAST WEEK: For the third consecutive year the Oregon State Beavers headed north to face the Washington Huskies. And for the third consecutive year the Beavers came away from Seattle with a victory.

Another strong performance by the OSU defense, which notched six sacks and 13 tackles for loss, kept the Washington offense in check most of the day. LB Derrick Doggett dominated the game accounting for team-high 10 tackles, eight solo, including two tackles for loss and one quarterback sack and a forced fumble.

QB Matt Moore had his best day of the year completing 14 of 19 for 308 yards with one touchdown and one interception. WR Sammie Stroughter finished with a career high 223 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions while the offensive line did a brilliant job pass protecting and providing room for RB Yvenson Bernard to carry for season highs in carries (29) and yards (144).

KEY INJURIES:Arizona is down to their third string quarterback. Starter Willie Tuitama is still suffering from the effects of a concussion, while Austin, his back-up, has a knee injury. KEY INJURIES: RT Josh Linehan out (knee)
FS Al Afalava questionable (concussion)
CB Keenan Lewis questionable (shoulder)
LB Dennis Christopher questionable (knee)
DE Joe Lemma questionable (ankle)

WHEN ARIZONA IS ON OFFENSE: The Wildcats have been a terrible running team this season, but did get the ground gain going against a bad Stanford defense. Expect them to mix run and pass against a better Beaver front seven. New quarterback Kris Heavner was a starter two years ago and should have a good grasp of the offense.

The Wildcat offensive line has been shaky all season but have gotten better after inserting a few new players. Daniel Borg, a starter at right guard to open the season, replaced left guard Adam Hawes in the second half of the UCLA game and the offense has been better since. The line is young, starting three redshirt freshmen and a redshirt sophomore, but they finally seem as if they are going to gel.

If the line can keep the pressure off Heavener he should be able to find speedy receivers Syndric Steptoe and Mike Thomas. Both are sub six-foot, but have a great burst and can be dangerous on both underneath routes and the long pass. Anthony Johnson is a possession receiver and the Cats seem to lack a traditional deep threat, but have been trying to integrate freshman Terrell Turner more into the offense.

The Cats are best with underneath routes, but Heavner does have a strong arm, so stretching the field is always a possibility.

The Cats do not have one feature back. Instead they rely on both Chris Jennings and Chris Henry. Henry is a physical back with a burst, but has not shown great instincts. Jennings is a junior college walk-on who lacks the physical gifts that Henry possesses, but does have great instincts. Xavier Smith has also seen more work of late and is a nice change of pace back.

WHEN OREGON STATE IS ON OFFENSE: Before the Washington game the players and coaches talked about doing the little things to win. Hustling to make a downfield block, recognizing and picking up the blitz correctly and being ready to make a big play are a few of the things they mentioned. The players took that philosophy to heart as the offense produced 488 yards in a balanced attack that featured the big play.

Something clicked for QB Matt Moore against Washington as he stayed calm in the pocket, went through his reads, used his feet to pick up first downs and was nearly perfect with a 237.8 passing efficiency rating against the Dawgs. Compared to the first five games of the year, it was like watching a different quarterback. His favorite receiver was the ever improving Sammie Stroughter who had a career high 223 yards and one touchdown on seven receptions. His performance earned him Pac-10 Player of the Week. Stroughter leads the team with 29 receptions for 552 yards and one score.

Lining up with Stroughter are Brandon Powers, who has 16 receptions for 166 yards, in the slot and Anthony Wheat-Brown and Ruben Jackson who split equal time at flanker. Wheat-Brown has been underutilized at 10 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson is a player with speed and is just now getting into the rotation. He has five receptions for 139 yards and one touchdown. Jackson could take over the starting spot at flanker and the coaches could slide Wheat-Brown to slot, where he played last year.

TE Joe Newton is the team's second leading receiver with 19 grabs for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Do to opponent's stacking up to stop the run Newton has been held in to pass protect which have hurt his receiving numbers.

RB Yvenson Bernard is second in the Pac-10 with 639 yards and seven touchdowns on 129 carries, good for 5.0 ypc. He is also valuable in the passing game catching 19 passes for 97 yards and is extremely good at pass protection. Junior Clinton Polk is seeing more time as the year wears on. He has long strides and can get to the corner but struggles in between the tackles.

The offensive line had their best performance of the year against UW not yielding one sack while dominating the Huskies both in pass protection and run blocking. They did a particularly nice job picking up blitzes while getting out and blocking for slip screens. Mobile center Kyle DeVan is playing extremely well while right tackle Andy Levitre has stepped in for the injured Josh Linehan and performed superbly. Also, keep an eye on right guard Jeremy Perry, who is one of the better younger linemen in the country.

One thing that has killed the Beavers are turnovers. They have turned the ball over seven times, several in their opponent's redzone, in the last two games. Turnovers cost the Beavers the game against Washington State and made the game against Washington a lot closer than it should have\ been.

WHEN OREGON STATE HAS THE BALL: The Arizona defense is pretty good. They have held five opponents under their season average and did not allow Stanford an offensive score. The defensive line has not put a ton of pressure on the quarterback, but have done a great job limiting the run. The Cats got a boost when DT Yaniv Barnett returned to action after missing three games with an elbow injury. Marcus Smith moved inside a few games ago and is finally starting to play well at DT. Jason Parker had a great game against Stanford, while the much touted Louis Holmes has been the most consistent defensive end.

Linebacker Spencer Larsen is a sideline to sideline linebacker and is arguably the team's MVP. Ronnie Palmer and Adrian McCovy have been splitting time at middle linebacker. Both are athletic and hard hitting, but have been out of position at times. Dane Krogstad is a solid third backer, but will give way to nickel back Marcus Hollingsworth.

The defensive backs have been good. Corner back Antoine Cason is among the league's best, while Wilrey Fontenot is solid, though his height can be exploited by bigger receivers. Free safety Dominic Patrick is a monster hitter. Michael Johnson is as talented as anyone on the team, but has been hampered by a thigh injury. He has not tackled well this season and needs to make more plays.

The defense has struggled in forcing turnovers. They have dropped a number of surefire interceptions and, despite being big hitters, have not forced a ton of fumbles. They give up their share of yardage, but have done a fantastic job at limiting big plays.

WHEN ARIZONA HAS THE BALL: After being torched by California and Boise State the Orange and Black on defense have been downright stingy. Players getting comfortable in the system, coaches getting more comfortable with players, different schemes and lots of substitutions are just some of the reaons why the defense has been successful.

Currently the unit ranks second in the nation in sacks per game (3.8) and tackles for loss per game (8.8). Much of the damage has been done in the past two weeks as the defense has accounted for 11 sacks and 25 tackles for loss against the Pac-10 Washington schools.

SLB Derrick Doggett, the Pac-10's Player of the Week this week, leads the team with 41 tackles, including a team best eight for loss and two sacks, with two interceptions. Doggett excels in pass coverage and uses his speed well to get to the ball carrier. MLB Alan Darlin is second on the team with 38 stops, including 6.5 for loss and three sacks. When the Beavers are in their nickel package Darlin steps up to the line and rushes the quarterback. WLB Joey LaRocque, a junior college transfer, is playing better as of late grabbing half of his 29 tackles in the last two games. He is getting comfortable in his position and the coaches are putting him in the right place to succeed. Tough as nails Bryant Cornell and the quick Isaiah Cook also see plenty of time at linebacker.

The defensive line regularly rotates two to three people about every two plays to keep the players fresh. DE Jeff Van Orsow has 23 stops including 6.5 for loss while Joe Lemma, who is injured this week, has eight tackles, including three sacks. Dorian Smith, who leads the team in sacks with 3.5, will take Lemma's place in the lineup. Smith brings a lot of energy with a good combination of quickness and strength. The speedy Victor Butler (2.5 sacks) and Naymon Frank also see time at the ends.

The tackles are manned by the fiery Curtis Coker, who demands a double team, and Ben Siegert, who has largely been disappointing in his senior year. Quick step Gerard Lee is seeing more and more time each week while Pernell Booth and William Vea (3 sacks) rotate in with regularity.

The backfield is led by strong safety Sabby Piscitelli who has 26 tackles and a team high three interceptions. Bryan Payton will be starting in the place of the injured Al Afalava at free safety. Daniel Drayton or Afalava, depending on his status, will see the field when the nickel is used. CB Keenan Lewis, who injured his shoulder against UW, and Brandon Hughes man the cornerback spots. Coye Francies, a mean hitter, is the first off of the bench. Oftentimes the cornerbacks have trouble tracking the ball through the air which explains the zero interceptions by them this year. But, that is changing as they located several passes at UW and swatted them down.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Nick Folk has a monster leg and will handle the place kicking, punting and kick off duties. He has shown an ability to make the long kicks, but has also been inconsistent. He had the game winner against BYU and made both kicks against Stanford. The punting game has been solid for the most part.

As a punter Folk will either kick the ball traditionally or roll out for the rugby kick. Despite focusing on his place kicking during the week, Folk is averaging 44.6 yards per kick and has placed 10 of his 39 punts inside the 10. He does not get a lot of hangtime and has surrendered a few long run backs because of that.

The return game has not been great, but Syndric Steptoe has the ability to break both punts and kickoffs. The team did not return a punt until the fifth game of the season, but has averaged 8.4 yards per return since. Steptoe has been better on kickoffse, returning 12 kicks for 25.3 yards a return.

SPECIAL TEAMS: PK Alexis Serna has been solid after missing his first two field goal attempts of the year. Serna has hit seven of 10 with his longest being a 58-yarder against California, tying a school record. He also handles kickoffs with half resulting in touchbacks.

Freshman punter Kyle Loomis has had his ups and downs as he started the season averaging 28.0 yards per kick. Since then he has averaged 42.3 yards per kick, but he faltered slightly against UW averaging 37.0, including a 20 yard shank in the fourth quarter that could have hurt the Beavs.

Sammie Stroughter is third in the nation in punt return yards per attempt at 18.9. He has two touchdowns on the year and is getting less of an opportunity each week to return a third one as teams are kicking away from him. Coye Francies is averaging a respectable 22.6 yards per attempt on kickoffs.

ARIZONA CAN WIN IF: The defense continues to shine and the running game continues to take pressure off of Heavner. The Cats want to force the Beavers into long drives and make Matt Moore try to beat them. They will need to force turnovers and capitalize on Oregon State mistakes.

OREGON STATE CAN WIN IF: The defense comes out with the same intensity they have in the past two games. They have forced turnovers and generally made life miserable for the opposing team's quarterback.

On offense, OSU must eliminate turnovers, establish the run and find the big play. If they jump on UA early, they must keep pouring it on and not let up.

ARIZONA WILL LOSE IF: Kris Heavner plays like he has not started since 2004. The defense surrenders big plays and/or allows the Oregon State running game to get going. The offensive line is unable to establish any sense of a running game and the game is solely on the shoulders of Heavner.

OREGON STATE WILL LOSE IF: They come out flat and expect Arizona to roll over. UA has their backs against the wall and with their family in town the players they are sure to play extra hard.

Brad Allis is the Editor-In-Chief or Sports Report Magazine. He has been covering Wildcat athletics since 2000 and is also co-host of the Wildcat pregame and postgame shows on 1290 a.m. in Tucson. Dan Norz is the publisher of Say it with me now - And that's another O....S....U....first down!

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