For the Win: Oregon State's Keys to the Game

276 days have passed since OSU strapped up and went live against someone other than themselves. Beaver Nation is eager to see just how much growth this team has made from then until now. Will depth be a concern? Does the added strength reported over the off season pay off? Can OSU be competitive from September 1st through the end of the season? All these questions remain unanswered, but will begin to become clearer after the Beavers travel to Minnesota to battle the Big Ten's Golden Gophers.

Here are's Keys to the Game if Oregon State wants to come home 1-0, with a big win in enemy territory.

1) Flex Defensive Muscle

There’s no doubt that this game will be a knock-down, drag-out affair and most likely won or lost in the trenches. The Beavers big 3 up front: D-End Baker Pritchard (6-3 272/Jr.), Nose Tackle Elu Aydon (6-3, 327/RsFr.) and D-Tackle Kalani Vakameilalo (6-3, 311/So.) will need to flex their collective muscle and at least create a stalemate at the line of scrimmage. Luckily for the three projected starters, there are ample big bodies behind them should they need a breather. Depth and added strength up front will allow the athletic OSU linebackers to clean up and gives Coach Clune options in how to pressure the Gophers from the second level. 

2) Make Mitch Leidner Uncomfortable

Don’t let what at first, look like mediocre stats fool you. Leidner is a savvy, veteran quarterback who knows how to get the job done. His 2015 season stats ranked him 4th all-time in passing yards (2,701), 3rd in completions (242), and 5th in completion percentage (59.5%). Now add on top of that, his 1,129 career rushing yards and 23 touchdowns, at 6-4, 230 Leidner is a threat with his arm and his legs. Minnesota has some youth up and down their offensive line and OSU can ill-afford to allow him time to sit and survey the secondary. Pressure won’t be enough, the Beaver D needs to contain and wrap up the Sr. signal caller, something they’ve had a heck of a time doing in years past; mobile QB’s have gashed OSU. If the Beavers can speed up Mitch’s clock they should benefit from some poorly thrown balls and potential turnovers.

3) Players Need To Make Plays

Coach Andersen has preached it from Day 1: Players make plays and players win games. OSU has a handful of offensive weapons in wide receivers Jordan Villamin, Victor Bolden, and Seth Collins, tight end Noah Togiai, and running back Ryan Nall. Coach Andersen has stressed the importance of ‘being multiple’ and with those athletic/big bodies all over the field, the Beavers shouldn’t have any problem doing so…or so you’d think. With new offensive coordinators (Coach T.J. Woods and Coach Kevin McGiven) calling plays this season, we’ll see what innovative ways they have come up with to get their athletes the ball in positions to be successful. The other wildcard is at the quarterback position. If new QB Darell Garretson can manage the offense while adding to it with his legs, OSU will be near impossible to shut down with the weapons they have. Simply put, the skilled positions need to produce when called upon.

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