|1. Stroughter will suit up|
Stroughter missed several weeks of fall camp as he worked through personal issues that included the death of two uncles and coach Jim Gilstrap, who recruited Stroughter to Corvallis.
The All-American started to practice with with the team in late August working first with the scout team before moving to the second team offense while also returning punts. This week he practiced with the first team offense.
Stroughter will back up true freshman Darrell Catchings at split end and return punts. Last season Stroughter caught 74 passes for a conference best 1,293 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned three punts for touchdowns, setting a school record.
|2. Humidity, temperature could play a factor|
Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey is hoping for high humidity and temperature to give the Bearcats an edge Thursday.
"I'd love to see about 90% humidity and about 85 degrees at kickoff," Tresey said. "That's what we're used to practicing in, and I'm sure they're not. I think it would be to our advantage, but who knows."
The difference in temperature is something Oregon State coach Mike Riley has also noted and hope won't affect his team late in the game. He had his team leave a day earlier then normal and had his team practice in Nippert Stadium Wednesday in hopes of getting them better acclimated to the climate.
"[A] factor in this game will be the temperature and humidity," Riley said. "How we handle that, and how many guys can stay fresh will be important."
According to Weather.com, the Cincinnati area at game time will be around 90 degrees with 49% humidity. For comparisons sake, at the same time Corvallis residents will be in 75 degree weather with 56% humidity - slightly more humid than Cincinnati, but 15 degrees warmer.
|3. Canfield to start; no parameters on rotation|
Unlike the first game of the year, where there was a predetermined rotation, Canfield will start and not be pulled until he proves he needs to be pulled.
"We are going to start Sean Canfield and play Lyle Moevao, but we don't have any parameters as to time. We're not going to do quarters again," Riley said.
As a result Canfield received more repetitions with the first team this week which should help his timing and confidence. Couple his extra practice with the first team with receiver Sammie Stroughter's return and Canfield could make a strong case for being named the starter.
Canfield says that one of the main things for a quarterback to be successful is to have a short memory and stay level headed.
"Take things one play at a time, the biggest thing for a quarterback is to have a short memory," Canfield said. "That and to acclimate to the speed of the game; it's a little different than in practice. The bottom line is to get it done in the game when it's on the line."
Even with Canfield set to solidify himself as the starting quarterback, Moevao is not ready to back down and will be ready to go if his name gets called.
"Having the on call situation for myself is kind of the same situation I was in last week, just being ready on the sidelines," Moevao said. "I had a feeling that if Sean was on a roll with the first team offense that he would stay in, but fortunately enough I got my chance in the second."
|4. Defending against the spread/no huddle offense|
The Cincinnati offense put up some gaudy numbers last week against SE Missouri State - 615 total yards (314 rushing), 33 first downs, and 59 points. The Beaver defense will have their hands full with a vertical, no huddle offense that likes to get up and down the field.
"They try to stretch your defense and you have to do a great job one-on-one," Riley said.
The good news is the Beavers have experience playing against a no huddle offense as they squared off against Missouri in the Sun Bowl last year. Fortunately Oregon State won, but the Tigers had no problem moving up and down the field racking up 561 yards (359 passing), 21 first downs and 38 points - something Riley has noted.
"I don't know what Missouri ran, but they had some success if that was the spread offense. It hasn't always been good," Riley said.
Riley feels OSU has a couple of advantages when defending against the spread offense - good teaching and team speed - two things the defense will have to use to stop the Bearcat attack.
"One thing that our coaches do a nice job of is teaching our defense the spread. The more we play against it, the more knowledge you get of what they are trying to do with certain plays," Riley said. "As you know watching that offense it creates a lot of one-on-one plays, and if you miss that one-on-one then you get big plays."
"Our compensation, frankly though, is speed. If we're playing with our speed and confidence in where we are then you have a better chance to get more people to the football and that's what we did against Utah."
|5. Speed kills|
There is no such thing as too much speed. One of the Orange and Black defenses' strengths is team speed - a trait that they share with the Bearcats defense.
"They are fast.They have good speed up front and one defensive end in particular. No. 82 (Angel Craig) is fast," Riley said.
The UC defense generated four turnovers, four fumbles and two interceptions, a week ago and are receiving a boost as All-Big-East tackle Terrill Byrd is back from a one game suspension.
Just like every opponent, the defense will be geared to stop the run and Yvenson Bernard. Unfortunately the offensive line is without Jeremy Perry, but Bernard says not to worry about that as they dealt with the same issue in the Sun Bowl.
"They have probably one of the best-coached offensive lines that we've played
against," UC head caoch Brian Kelly said. "They do a great job up front. They're
physical. We know their back is a featured player, but they're like any other
team in the country.
"They know they can't just run the ball. They're going to have to throw the ball down the field."
And that's where the return of Stroughter to the lineup and the emergence of Darrell Catchings and James Rodgers will help. The team won't have to rely so heavily on the run as they can give Cincinnati different looks to open up the running game.
Riley preaches balance and that's just what the offense will need to do to come away with a victory.