The good news is, the defense has shown signs of life. I'd like to see a consistent effort for more than one game in a row before I declare the defense reborn – but there appears to be a pass rush developing. Oregon State was far more successful in applying pressure to Alex Brink than USC was just a week before.
Let's hope that some of the momentum carries in from last week defensively.. and that the offense discovers a pulse.
Keys to the Game:
1 – Keep Stanback From Running Wild.
Isaiah Stanback has wheels. Big time. In order to keep him in check, OSU needs to bring pressure up the middle to collapse the pocket and the defensive ends need to keep contain. Stanback is at his best when he is scrambling and improvising – Arizona has a better than average secondary and though Stanback only connected on 14 passes, he rolled up nearly 300 yards. He also rolled up 47 yards on 10 carries against the Cats. To stay in this contest, Oregon State will need to keep him hemmed in the pocket with nowhere to run.
2 – Find Some Mojo.
Whatever Head Coach Mike Riley has to do to breathe life into the offense, he needs to do. Now. The conservative gameplan OSU is running right now requires them to be nearly perfect in order to keep the offense from faltering. Every drive seems to be one incomplete pass away from stalling at any time – if Moore i sn't 9 of 9 on a given drive, it's a punt. The offense has found a playmaker in Sammie Stroughter after his coming out party against WSU, and between Stroughter, Jonas Newton, and Yvenson Bernard, that's plenty enough weapons to generate some results, with a good offensive line. There is no reason this offense cannot put up points.
3 – Win the Special Teams Battle.
One big punt return from Stroughter could be all the jumpstart the Beavs need to break the game open. That said, as much of a weapon as Alexis Serna is, and as dynamic as Sammie Stroughter and Coye Francies have been in the return game, one of the unsung heroes on Special Teams really has been Sabby Piscitelli. Sabby has been phenominal in the gunner position on punts and has the potential to make a game changing play if given the chance. Keep an eye on Sabby.
Reviewing last week's keys:
Look for The Beaver Beat and dnorz at the game. I'll be at home cheering the Beavs on from my couch.
See you in the funny papers.