1. Slow down LeSean McCoy
The Oregon State defense has a chance at redemption after getting shredded by Oregon for 385 rushing yards at 7.5 yards a pop, but faces a very stern test against one of the premier running backs in the nation.
McCoy, who averages 4.9 yards per carry, is a shake and bake type of player who seems to get better as the game wears on. Despite having the ability to fake out defenders he is a between the tackles type of runner which the Beavers are accustomed to.
McCoy is a talented back and will probably get his yards, but the defense must not give up any big plays, especially early, and toughen up when Pittsburgh drives onto their side of the field.
In the previous nine games before the Civil War the defense gave up just 17.1 points a game, limited all but two of the opponents to less than 100 rushing yards and four of the opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense.
The bottom line is the Beaver defense knows how to stop the run and the pass and a healthy DT Stephen Paea is good news.
If OSU can stop the run and force Pitt QB Bill Stull, who has completed an average 59% of his passes for 2,304 yards, nine touchdowns and nine interceptions, to throw the ball it could be a big day for the Orange and Black secondary.
a clean special teams game
Special teams have been a mixed bag for the Beavers this season. Kick and punt returns have been decent but punting, and especially kicking, have been lacking severely at times.
The Panthers have a clear advantage on special teams with kicker Conor Lee making 87% of his field goals this year and not missing an extra point in his career while P Dave Brytus averages a respectable 40.2 yards per kick.
Throw in the fact that Pitt has blocked a school record 10 kicks this season and there is plenty to worry about.
Justin Kahut has missed seven field goals and two extra points this year with his latest miss coming on a 21-yard chip shot in the Civil War. P Johnny Hekker has been improving with a 38.6 average, but is taking too much time to get off his kicks off which plays right into the Panthers' hands.
With a limited running game and a defense that needs to find itself there can be no mistakes on special teams. No bad snaps, blocked kicks or fumbles or it could be a long day for the Men in Black.
With Jacquizz and James Rodgers out of the lineup Sammie Stroughter will once again be the go to man on offense - both on the ground and through the air.
The coaches need to get the ball in his hands, and preferably in the open field, as much as possible. Look for the play maker to get the ball on reverses, fly sweeps and the usual curls, slants and fly routes.
It is highly likely that Stroughter will be thrown to 15 or so times while also getting 4-8 carries.
Special teams also needs to give Stroughter room to operate.
A big play, on offense or special teams, by one of the team's most emotional leaders would be a huge emotional boost for the entire team.
Reviewing last game's keys:
1. Force the Jeremiah Masoli to pass - Masoli made some great throws, but really wasn't under much duress as the Ducks ripped through the Beaver defense on the ground.
2. Play with controlled energy - An A+ here - there weren't any stupid personal foul penalties.
3. Make your kicks - Eh. The up and down trails of Justin Kahut continued as he missed a 21-yard field goal that seemed to suck some of the life out of the stadium and team.