Home sweet home
Around 20 players on the Beaver roster played their prep football in Southern California. As a result many Californians will be in the stadium cheering on the OSU squad.
"That will be fun," said quarterback Matt Moore, who played his high school ball at Hart High in Newhall, CA. "It is going to be nice to see all of those people and watch me play. I enjoy that. It will be fun to see family and friends."
The Beavers will arrive in Los Angeles Friday night where coach Mike Riley will give them a few hours to go see their family and friends before a team meeting.
"It is a big game for the Californians," center Kyle DeVan said. " It is always fun to go back to your home state. Matt Moore played at the Rose Bowl for two seasons and I am sure he will be emotionally excited and hopefully play one of the best games of his career."
A resurgent blue and gold defense, but a feisty orange and black offensive
Usually when preparing for a Pac-10 opponent the coaches include film from last year's contest, but that is not the case with the UCLA Bruins this year. The UCLA defense has been revamped from a year ago and is one of the top units in the conference. The Bruins rank third in the nation in third down conversions (26.7%) and 15th in the nation in rushing defense (91.5). They have also limited five of their nine opponents to fewer than 60 yards rushing and 300 total yards.
"It's hard to find the holes. You have to utilize a lot of personnel to flourish," coach Mike Riley said. "Those defensive ends for instance, they utilize people well. They have a blitz package that is good and their base defense is very sound."
The Oregon State offensive line has not allowed a sack in three of the last four games but will have their hands full with the top sack leaders in the conference. Defensive ends Justin Hickman and Bruce Davis are one-two in the conference in sacks and each requires a little extra attention.
"They are quick guys and they have those defensive end qualities on the edge," Riley said. "They will take a chance and slip inside and go underneath the tackle and make a play. They are quick enough to do it and recover enough if they don't get the sack."
But center Kyle DeVan says not to worry. It doesn't matter who is behind the offensive line, they just need to follow the big boys to pay dirt.
"We are going to be fighting to open up holes just like we do every week," DeVan said. "Whoever is in there we are going to block for. We are going to open holes, that is what we do."
A balanced effort
While Matt Moore has played splendidly the past four games, the OSU receiving group has stepped up as well creating space between their defenders, running the correct routes and catching everything thrown their way.
"They have definitely helped me out," Moore said. "Sammie has made some big catches. They pretty much all have. Jonas has caught fire the past couple of games. It is easy to play well when you have guys surrounding you that make plays."
During the four game winning streak Sammie Stroughter has averaged 134 yards on six catches a game, good for 22 yards a grab. Brandon Powers has had seven catches for 80 yards in the last two games and continues to do the little things to keep the offense moving while Anthony Wheat-Brown has three receptions in each of the last three games, including one for a touchdown.
Tight end Joe Newton continues to become more involved in the offense due to a combination of factors that include Stroughter's emergence as a receiving threat, Moore seeing the field better and Newton finally feeling comfortable in the offense.
"Every week it seems like I get a little bit faster," Newton said. "These last few weeks I feel like I've really gotten my speed back. I can run like I used to be able to."