1. Don't let Terrence Austin break
The Beavers kickoff coverage has been less than stellar as they have given up a conference high 955 yards or 18 yards a kickoff, which admittedly doesn't sound too bad, until you take in the fact the average kickoff only goes 59.2 yards.
That means on average that the kickoff returner is fielding the ball at their own 10-yard line and returning it almost to their own 30 which means the offense needs to move just 70 yards to hit pay dirt.
Justin Kahut will be booting the pigskin to one of the most dangerous kickoff returners in the country in Terrence Austin who averages 25.1 yards per return, good for second in the Pac-10 and 35th nationally. Austin has yet to take one back for six but has has gains of 82 and 73. Twice this year he has eclipsed the 200 yard mark in kickoff returns.
Austin also handles punt return duties averaging a respectable 10.5 yards with a long of 35.
First and foremost Kahut, along with punters Johnny Hekker or Ryan Allen, must get good hang time to allow the coverage time to get downfield and in position to make a tackle. Line drive kickoffs or punts could prove disastrous.
For the coverage teams staying disciplined and in their lanes while wrapping
up Austin on the first attempt is paramount to prevent the speedster from making
a big play.
2. Make life miserable for Kevin Craft or Chris Forcier
UCLA QB Kevin Craft has some misleading statistics. He leads the Pac-10 in completions (20.5), is second in total offense (221.0) and fifth in passing yards (215.5) - but he leads the conference in interceptions (11), including four last week against Cal.
Getting to Craft and forcing him to make quick decisions and therefore forcing him to make less accurate throws is key.
Due to his high number of turnovers Craft knows that his starting spot is in jeopardy so getting to Craft early and often and getting into his head is key.
If the Beaver defense forces Craft into some early mistakes look for redshirt freshman Chris Forcier, a more mobile quarterback, to enter the game.
Forcier has thrown just six passes this season so the Oregon State defense must stay aggressive and knock the inexperienced gunslinger to the ground.
3. Win the turnover battle
In Oregon State's three losses this year they are -3 in turnover margin. In their five wins they are +6 so it goes without saying that the Beavers must take care of the football.
Reviewing last game's keys:
1. Rough up Rudy and force the Sun Devils to run - The defense sacked Carpenter five times and harassed him for much of the night. The Sun Devils averaged just 2.4 yards per rush and totaled just 217 yards passing, but the third down pass defense was suspect. This key was a mixed bag.
2. Know where LB Mike Nixon is and contain DE Dexter Davis - Nixon was the game's leading tackler with 12 stops, but grabbed just one tackle for loss and didn't make any big plays. Davis finished with a solid six tackles, but did not have a sack nor any game changing plays. The offense did a good job of keeping ASU's defensive playmakers in check.
3. Come out focused - The team certainly stayed focused throughout the game as they came from behind twice in the second half. Sun Devil head coach Dennis Erickson says his team's performance against OSU was their best this season so kudos to the Beavs for taking Arizona State's best shot and coming out victorious.