BF.C KEYS TO THE GAME: Cal

THE GOLDEN BEARS FEATURE a thieving defense that has already picked off 17 passes this year. But before even considering that, chief among this week's keys, is protecting returning OSU starter Lyle Moevao.

1.  Protect Lyle Moevao
Cal's defense did a nice job versus USC last week, grabbing three sacks against an offensive line that had given up just nine sacks prior to the game. 

Oregon State's o-line and tight end protection corps offers an even sterner test for Cal -- the Beavs are ranked No. 9 in the nation in sacks allowed and sit atop the Pac-10 with only nine sacks allowed in nine games this season.

But the Golden Bears' 3-4 defense has fueled an impressive 17 picks, second in the nation, 25 sacks, third in the conference, and a plus-8 turnover margin, first in the conference.

The good news is the Beaver offensive line has been steadfast all year, and against sack happy defenses like USC, Penn State and Utah, yielding a sack every 32.7 pass attempts.

Just like all of OSU's opponents, Cal will almost certainly look to first stop the run and then try and force Moevao to beat them with his arm.

The offensive line must continue their high level of play giving Moevao plenty of time in the pocket to go through his progressions and make the correct decisions.

 

2.  Mix up the playbook
In his weekly press conference coach Mike Riley said the team studied Arizona's 42-27 victory over Cal to look for keys to success against the Bear defense. 

In that game, Arizona racked up 404 yards of total offense, 179 by run and 225 through the air, while exploding for 28 points in the third quarter.

Riley said he found that a "variety" of offensive plays, and patience, were the keys to the Wildcats' success.

OSU has been working on a few new plays in practice the last few weeks -- so expect Riley and company to hit Cal with a new surprise or two.

 

3. Overwhelm Cal QB Kevin Riley
In OSU's past two losses to Cal at home, Bear quarterbacks have completed 36 of 49 passes (73 percent) for 568 yards and eight touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Beaver defense has picked off three passes and sacked the quarterbacks four times.

Oregon State's defense on Saturday must punish Riley and knock him to the turf at every opportunity. 

If they consistenly pressure the former Beaverton prep star, OSU's stop corps can force Riley into making throws sooner than he wants as the game goes along which may well result in the turnover which decides the game and results in bedlam in Reser Stadium.

 


Reviewing last game's keys:

1.  Don't let Terrence Austin break loose - Special teams, especially Justin Kahut and Johnny Hekker, did a fantastic job of limiting the touches Austin had and when he did field a kick the coverage teams did an excellent job of wrapping him up.  Kahut had a season high three touchbacks albeit with the aide of some fortuitous bounces while Hekker had a breakout game -- he averaged a season high 48.8 yards per kick.  Austin averaged 21.2 yards per kickoff return, four yards less than his season average,

2.  Make life miserable for Kevin Craft -  Craft fumbled once, threw two picks, was sacked three times and was mercilessly slammed into the turf play after play.  We would be remiss not to hand out a big kudos to Craft for getting up after taking some vicious hits -- the guy is one tough QB.

3.  Win the turnover battle - The team finished plus-2 on the turnover ledger, with the defense picking off three passes and recovering one fumble.  Sean Canfield threw a pick and fumbled the ball once.  The pick wasn't the worst throw, but the fumble was horribly costly coming on first and goal from the Bruin four-yard line.  Bottom line -- It could have been better, but it could have been worse, too.


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