BF.C Keys to the Game: USC

FORGET ALL THE doom and gloom talk. Instead of a down-in-the-dumps Beavers' squad insurmountable task – in the form of Southern Cal coming to town this Saturday night – what Mike Riley and the Beavers really have in front of them is, actually, something far, far different.

An opportunity, and first and foremost an opportunity to show how much heart they have.

The season hasn't been lost, although it might seem that way following the last two weeks against UCLA and WSU. Injuries, execution, schedule, scheme, coaching, preparation, playcalling – they've all played their part in the drama that has led to a 4-5 record. But when the Beavs welcome USC to Corvallis (ABC, 5 p.m.) Mike Riley has the opportunity to put forth his finest coaching moment on display. The players have the opportunity to silence all the grousing.

To seize that opportunity, the Beavs need to find that which can power Jacquizz Rodgers on every carry, and propel the defense to make the third down stops. And what is that?

Heart.

Earlier this week, Quizz posted a video of Tashard Choice's impassioned 2007 locker room speech as Georgia Tech prepared to take the field against Clemson. "We're going to fight until we can't fight no more. Going to lie down, and bleed awhile. Going to get up, fight some more."

Choice rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown, and Georgia Tech took down Clemson 13-3. Look for Quizz to come out with a lot of fire on Saturday. Look for the Beavers to come out swinging against the Trojans.

Here are the keys to beating USC:
1 – Find the Heart. The engine that drives Oregon State beats in the chest of a 5-7 running back from Texas. And it's disheartening that Quizz has gotten so few carries in the losses to UCLA and WSU. This is the game for the offensive line to fight, claw, scratch and grind for Quizz. Keep feeding Quizz the rock and he'll reward you. When bad things happen, shrug it off and come back stronger than ever. OSU cannot just start hanging their heads like they've done the last two weeks when adversity surfaces.

2 – Find the Ball. There's been one constant in each of USC's losses in Corvallis under Mike Riley – forcing turnovers. Brian Payton and Greg Laybourn's picks. Coye Francies' teeth rattling fumble-forcer. Isaiah Cook blasting the ball out of Joe McKnight's hands. The Beavers have gotten it done by taking the ball away. They'll need to do that again on Saturday if they're going to win.

3 – Find the Alarm Clock. The Beavers have come out flat and proceeded to sleepwalk through more than one contest this year. It reached rock-bottom last week against WSU. Coming out fired up and wide awake is a prerequisite in order to turn this thing around and put a scare into USC early.

It can be done. The Beavs, however, mustn't be thinking in those terms but rather, it will be done.

Grading last weeks' keys:
1- Get After The QB: While the Beavers were able to get some pressure on Tuel and even managed 4 sacks, it was far too often at the expense of lane integrity. That allowed Tuel to function as the leading rusher for a Cougars' team that hadn't been able to run the ball all season. Those four sacks were more than offset by allowing Tuel to rush 18 times for 79 yards. Grade: D-

2- Find Some Balance: Yes, the Beavs set a new low in number of total offensive plays but maybe if they handed the ball to Quizz more, it wouldn't have turned out that way. Inexplicably the Beavers only handed the ball to Quizz 15 times, despite his 6.2 yard per carry average. The game was pass-heavy and with the Cougars blitzing like crazy, it resulted in Katz running for his life, with far less success than Tuel. Grade: F

3- Keep the Defense on the Sidelines: WSU absolutely dominated the time of possession, running 76 plays to Oregon State's 48, and converted at a high rate on third downs. Even more sobering was the rushing comparison: WSU 61 touches, OSU 25. Grade: F

And with that, never let us speak of the 2010 Washington State game again. Get well soon James Rodgers. Back away from the ledge, and send your emails to orangeattack@beaverfootball.com


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