BF.C KEYS TO THE GAME: UCLA

MUCH OF THE BUZZ around the Oregon State-UCLA Homecoming matchup this weekend in Corvallis is that it's a "trap game" for the Beavers. Don't you believe it.

It's tempting as fans to continue to look back at the USC game that "almost was" but as far as the team goes, the past is the past and Monday morning is the moment that you affix your gaze on the task at hand and stomp your foot on the throttle, leaving the previous week in your rear view mirror. And UCLA is the perfect foil for the Beavers this weekend.
 
It's apparent that the Achilles Heel of this Oregon State squad is not on the offensive side of the ball -- the Beavers come into UCLA moving the ball at will regardless of the opponent. The defense on the other hand has some good pieces who at times make outstanding plays but overall, they're still in search of consistency.
 
Enter the perfect matchup.
 
UCLA is this year AGAIN atrocious on the offensive side of the ball -- they're squarely in the category of "spectacularly bad offensive teams".
 
The Bruins have won the last three straight in Corvallis and they do have a couple of respectable performances in '09, winning at Tennessee and a nice performance against Kansas State. But since then the boys in Powder Puff Blue have been locked in a veritable tailspin, losing four straight.
 
Adding insult to injury, the Bruins are having to pay lip service to Twittergate, the statement freshman wide receiver Randall Carroll posted that was critical of offensive coordinator Norm Chow.  It was latched onto by the media, the news spread like wildfire and UCLA has been answering questions about it ever since.
 
It may be overblown by the media but it's a distraction nonetheless, and it should give Oregon State fans a moment to pause and consider just how special the thing going on in Corvallis these days really is.
 
When you look at it that way, it's hard to imagine a scenario where a trap game is even remotely possible.
 
The Word "Flat" isn't In the Vocabulary

Oregon State needs to do what they do, which is come out early and set the tone.
 
The Beavers over the last 47 games have outscored opponents 256-85 in the first quarter.
 
Putting the Bruins in a hole early will effectively take them out of the game completely because offensively, UCLA is in complete disarray.

Keep On Keeping On

The one thing Oregon State has done an incredible job of this year is taking care of the football. And they need to avoid gift wrapping multiple opportunities for the Bruins.
 
UCLA forced five fumbles last week, making the loss to Arizona closer than it looked. Uncharacteristic fumbles last week aside, the Big Three of James Rodgers, Jacquizz Rodgers and Sean Canfield have been phenomenal at limiting turnovers this season.
 
UCLA's defense may not be as statistically impressive as recent years past but they have maybe the best corner in the conference in Alterraun Verner and a great DT in Brian Price, who leads the Pac-10 in tackles for loss.

Bend But Don't Break

The defense has a pretty simple job against UCLA -- limit the big play.
 
Oregon State doesn't need to be lights out against the Bruins but they do need to force UCLA to be efficient and accurate, something that has proven near-impossible for the men from Westwood thus far.

 

REVIEWING LAST WEEK'S KEYS:
 
1 - Ball Security.  Canfield was perfect with the ball, but the turnover-conscious Beavers had a very uncharacteristic 3 fumbles last week, although only one was a turnover.  Still, the Beavers won the turnover battle by a 2-1 margin and were it not for a late hit penalty (again uncharacteristically) by Keaton Kristick, it would have been 3-1.  Grade: B
 
2 - Click Click Boom.  While the Beavers wound up with their fair share of big plays by the time the final gun sounded, OSU came out sputtering a bit offensively instead of hitting on all cylinders.  The first six possessions went:  punt, fumble, FG, FG, punt, missed FG.  The Trojans converted half of their first 6 possessions to touchdowns.  Grade:  C
 
3 - Find the X-Factor.  Welcome to the party Joe Halahuni -- you are the X-Factor.  The former small school star out of Orting, Wash. enjoyed a breakout game against a premiere Pac-10 opponent with Danny Langsdorf and Mike Riley attacking the deep drops by SC's athletic linebackers and picking apart the 2-deep zone.  Halahuni's role in the game plan gave Oregon State the edge they needed to keep the offense rolling.  And the best news?  Big Joe is only a sophomore.  Grade:  A

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