A Civil War conversation with Mark Banker

CORVALLIS - There's just one day, a turkey, some stuffing with gravy and a whole lot of Pepto standing between us and the Civil War. BF.C talked with Oregon State defensive coordinator Mark Banker after the Beavs last regular season practice to discuss his defense and rival Oregon. So, will the Beavers be feasting on roast duck the day after Thanksgiving?

That all depends on whether or not they can find a groove, and maybe a massive shot of adrenaline before kickoff in Eugene.

This past Saturday's loss is in the past, kind of. Where was the energy, the passion, the fire?

Has Oregon State's defense lost that proverbial spark, that twinkle in the eye of a team that sees glory as just one tackle or one interception away?

"You can't let things effect you during the course of a game," Mark Banker said. "And this group, for whatever reason, does that. They thrive on the ups of emotion, and you can't always do that. You just have to go out there and play one play at a time."

It's easier said than done, and as the 117th Civil War approaches, many members of the OSU fan base are having a hard time finding reasons to be optimistic. But Banker has got a pretty good idea of what his team needs to do differently against Oregon.

And that's keep responding to adversity and fight back harder than ever.

"How you respond is critical, and that's basically what we were talking about - our response to everything that goes on during the course of competition," Banker said. "You know, get yourself lined up, communicate with each other, give yourself a chance… then go out and execute, go on to the next play. Good, bad or indifferent go on to the next play and continue to compete."

With that in mind, what has Banker been telling the OSU stop corps about the expectations they can have of the Oregon offense?

"We know that they are an up-tempo team, like so many teams nowadays," Banker said. "Up-tempo, speed, (they) get the ball to their athletes on the outside quickly, and other times off the play action fake, get it downfield on deep crossing routes and things of that nature. One good play leads to another. If they get a big gain, the tempo speeds up."

BANKER SAID the Beavs looked at those things that were successful in last year's Civil War.

And the number of times the Beavs put the Ducks into third down situation was startling.

"We went back this year and looked again at what we got them into on third down," said Banker. "And I believe we got them into 16 third-down situations, and that's not including short yardage. We had two third-and-mediums, two third-and-longs, and I believe it was either 10 or 12 extra-long situations."

"And if you had told me that was going to happen, I would have called you a liar."

Does this version of the OSU defense have that ability? Can we expect ten-plus three-and-out scenarios, and heck, maybe just a hint of being able to stop the run? Banker, along with Beaver fans from here to Nantucket, is hopeful that the answer to those questions is a resounding yes.

"Now do we want that to happen? Absolutely," Banker said. "So you need to be prepared for that and then you've got to out-execute them in those situations."

To do so will mean Oregon State will need to seize control over the momentum of the game, which can shift quicker than a feather in the wind. And it's a feather OSU has been chasing all season long defensively.

Banker said it himself - one good play leads to another. With Oregon, the more they connect, the more efficient they become, and they tend to get better as time trickles off the clock.

But one good play leading to another goes both ways, and it's something the Beaver D will be looking to do against Oregon as well.


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