BF.C KEYS TO THE GAME: Arizona

TURN YOUR EYES, Beaver Nation, to Cameron Collins. The junior safety-turned-outside linebacker received his first career start in the box, and did so with an absolute BANG, tallying 10 tackles, including an important stop at the 1-yard line. With Dwight Roberson still questionable for Arizona on Saturday, Collins' contributions will be extremely important – and key.

The speed and safety-type agility the 6-3, 235 pound Cameron Collins brings to the box will be big against Arizona, a team that likes to spread out opponents and get the ball out quickly.

Collins closed on the swing route with astonishing speed against Arizona State, and that upside will remain critical in the east-west passing game Arizona employs.

Arizona's running game has been, statistically, anemic thus far, but don't let that fool you – the Wildcats have a pair of very capable backs and a big offensive line. For the Beavs, contributions from the linebackers on both the edge and up the middle will be very important.

Oh let's just hammer the point home to anyone who might not be giving this their full attention. Cameron will be important – very important on the edge. Keep an eye on Collins this weekend. A big game from Cameron will bring good things to the Beaver Defense. Here endeth the lesson.

IT'S BEEN SAID that winning cures all that ails, and Oregon State found a powerful elixir in a gutty win over Arizona State last weekend. Now they have to carry that momentum to Tucson for the third road game against a top 5 defense against Arizona.

The schedule? Brutal doesn't quite cover it. But strengths don't develop from winning, rather, struggles develop strength. Going through hardship and making the decision to fight and overcome rather than surrender, that's where true strength lies. The Beavers have been bloodied, but remain unbowed. But enough about my scripted sequel to Braveheart that I'm still shopping around.

True to form, October brings new life for this Oregon State team, particularly on defense.

After lackluster performances by the front seven in the first three games, the Beaver defense roared to life this past Saturday. As reported more than once on BF.C this past week, with just 2 sacks on the season through the first three games, Banker's crew rose up and notched a whopping six sacks against Arizona State. But most importantly, the linebackers found some identity.

It seemed as if Keith Pankey literally evolved overnight into the toughest guy on the field -- with bell-ringing stuff on an important goal line stand. Despite missing standout linebacker Dwight Roberson, the linebacker corps actually played better, it could be argued. But there's also no question about it, the Beavs need Roberson back for the long haul.

Offensively Ryan Katz has suddenly improved from "promising" to "explosive". Against possibly the best front seven in the Pac 10, Katz was electric in facing ASU. Beaver fans are now waking up to the notion that Katz really is something special.

Of course the offensive line deserves plenty of credit for a zero, yes that's right ZERO sack performance, but on several occasions it was all about Ryan Katz.

Well, Katz will get another opportunity this weekend to build on that performance as the Beavers face the best pair of starting defensive ends they will likely see all season. Seniors Ricky Elmore and Brooks Reed are a pair of superb 5th-year seniors who are crafty, physical and talented, and Oregon State's stellar tackles Michael Philipp and Mike Remmers will have their hands full.

Again Katz will need to get the ball downfield to break junior tailback Jaquizz Rodgers loose, which should be an even more attainable goal with the return of star receiver James Rodgers this week.

Let's take a look at the Keys To the Game for this week:
1 – Help The DL Get Pressure. What Foles does, and does well, is get the ball out quickly. Arizona wants to spread the laterally and pick you apart. Foles killed OSU last year with Arizona's bubble screen game, and if the Beavers want to get some pressure on him the way to do it is by making him hold the ball long enough to get after him.

2 – Establish the Running Game Early. OSU came out and ran the ball with success against Arizona State early in the game and it set the tone. Time to build on that. One or two throws on the money from Katz will force them to back out of the box. If OSU is faced to abandon the running game early like Iowa did, it will be a long day for the Beavers.

3 – Win On Third Down. This might be the most important key for the football game, but it builds on Keys 1, 2. The Beavers have done a great job getting opponents into third down this season, but to beat a Top 10 team, on the road, you have to be better on third down. The flip side -- OSU hasn't converted enough on third down so far this year and that trend needs to swing upwards. If the Beavers want to win against UA, they will need to come up with some key third down stops and make some key third down conversions.

A review and grading of last weeks' keys:
1 – Protect the QB. One word: Zero. As in "zero sacks allowed". Give Ryan Katz credit for eluding the rush with his feet as well as blitz/hot read recognition. Zero sacks allowed against a very good defensive front seven is something to be very proud of.. And the OL gets an extra gold star for blocking well enough to get Quizz his longest career run as well. Grade: A

2 – Don't Come Apart At the Seams. In addition to sacking Steven Threet six times, the Oregon State defense locked down the ASU vertical passing game, with James Dockery pulling in a pair of INT's and Lance Mitchell notching one as well, limiting Threet to 203 yards passing and his favorite target from the previous week Gerrell Robinson to just 4 catches. Grade: A

3 – Feed on That Corvallis Energy. Big plays? Check. Turnovers? Check. Pass Rush? Check. Really what more can you ask for? The Beavers kept the crowd in the game, played fast, played furious, and kept it going all game long, culminating with another thrilling game winning interception by Dockery. Grade: A+. That's A+ and in super mega awesome. We're talking Webmaster Dan in the stands after a fifth of tequila awesome. That's right, I've creating a new grading scale for Awesome this week. How did you know?

Questions, caveats, comments, kvetches, clarifications – hit me up here


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