BF.C KEYS TO THE GAME: Arizona State

FOR THE THIRD consecutive week Oregon State faces a struggling Pac-10 opponent. Jumping on the Sun Devils early and never giving them the opportunity to think they are going to win is one of this week's keys.

1.  Rough up Rudy and force the Sun Devils to run
The inexperienced Arizona State offensive line has struggled giving up at least three sacks in the last four games.  Throw in the fact that ASU has one of the the worst running attacks in the nation averaging just 87 yards per game, good for 114th nationally, and 2.8 yards per carry and you've got one of the worst offensive lines in the country.

Although Rudy Carpenter is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the nation, and that usually means big time success in the Pac-10, he has struggled - holding onto the ball too long and throwing just nine touchdowns to seven interceptions.

But the senior is completing 63% of his passes.  And after watching the Washington/Oregon State tape you can bet Carpenter and company will test the Beaver secondary early.

Carpenter does have a bum ankle though and the Beavers must use his injury to their advantage.  Force him out of the pocket, make him throw on the run and make sure to knock him to the turf at every opportunity.

After roughing up Rudy then the defense can focus on overwhelming the mediocre Devil ground game as the Men in Black look to keep ASU under their season average.

2.  Know where LB Mike Nixon (#25) is and contain DE Dexter Davis (#58)

Outside linebacker Mike Nixon is the team's leading tackler with 54 stops and is third in the Pac-10 with 7.6 tackles per game.  The 6-foot-3, 227 pound player has grabbed an interception in each of the last two games and does well covering sideline to sideline.

DE Dexter Davis is one of the better pass rushers in the league with five sacks, one more sack than the rest of his teammates, and a team best eight tackles for loss.

At 6-foot-2, 252 pounds he has a similar frame as Beaver defensive end Slade Norris and even if he doesn't get a sack he is usually hitting the quarterback.

Davis will be banging helmets with OSU's best offensive lineman in tackle Andy Levitre.  Coach Mike Riley says they will slide over a tight end to help Levitre out.

QB Lyle Moevao must be aware of the ball hawking Nixon and the speedy Davis at all times if he hops to play an error free game.

3. Come out focused
This is the third consecutive week that Oregon State has faced a sub .500 team and have been favored by at least two touchdowns. In fact the last three teams, including ASU, that OSU has played have a combined 3-19 record.

Except for the momentary second quarter setback against Washington State the Beavers did exactly as they should against a lesser opponent dominating in all aspects of the game. Against the Huskies, Oregon State took care of the ball better, but overall was sloppy on defense giving up 377 yards of total offense to team that was averaging just a shade over 300 yards a game.

Arizona State is in a must win situation as another loss dashes any chance at postseason play. So, once again, the Beavers must come out fired up and ready to put away a team hungry for a win early.

Make no mistake - Arizona State has far more playmakers than Washington State or Washington and if the Beavers make the same mistakes they did against the Cougars (four interceptions by Moevao) and Huskies (giving up 276 passing yards, 16.3 ypc) they could be looking at their first home loss of the season.


Reviewing last game's keys:

1.  Jump on 'em early - The Beavers went into halftime with a decent 17-6 lead, but did not put the Huskies away until late in the third quarter.  It could have been better, but the game was never really in doubt.

2.  Exploit a big offensive line with quickness - The defense tallied seven tackles for loss, including one sack.  DE Victor Butler had a big game with three tackles for loss while LB Dwight Roberson added two tackles for loss.  Despite registering just one sack they did hit QB Ronnie Fouch over and over as he struggled to pick himself off of the turf late in the game.

3.  Run it down their throats - An A+ here as the team wracked up 230 yards on the ground, the second highest total of the year, highlighted by WR James Rodgers three carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns.  Quizz's tough running up the middle added another 94 yards and one touchdown and allowed his older brother to get loose three times for big gains on the fly sweep.

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