BF.C KEYS TO THE GAME: Cal

ON PAPER IT would seem that the Oregon State vs. Cal is a dead-even matchup. Both teams enter with 3-2 conference records, sport star-studded offenses and have faced questions about their defense this year. Closer inspection, however, reveals something decidedly different.

Digging deeper than the surface, it would seem that these two dead-equal teams are headed in dead-opposite directions.  Oregon State seems to be playing its' best football as of late, while the Bears -- despite reeling off 3 wins in a row -- are not playing up to expectations at all.
 
California's two losses were blowouts (defeats to Oregon by 39 points, and USC by 27), and their 23-21 nailbiter over a less-than-stellar Arizona State squad last week, a team the Beavers fairly well hammered in Tempe, left a lot to be desired.  Even more troubling for the Golden Bears was the fact that only a pair of field goals separated Cal from being blanked by both Oregon and USC.
 
Oregon State this weekend puts Cal at a crossroads -- Either the Tedheads will "get right" and salvage their season, or they'll fold up the tents.
 
The news gets worse for Cal fans.  Oregon State has just about considered Strawberry Canyon their home-away-from-home, winning four straight in Berkeley.  The Beavers are by-and-large healthy across the board, while Cal is banged up at key positions.
 
Cal will likely be without their starting nose guard on defense and their offensive line is banged up.  Reports are that star running back Jahvid Best may be out or at the very least limited after sustaining a concussion and Cal's talented tight end Anthony Miller will be watching from the sidelines as well.
 
Bottom line it and the Beavers have every chance in the world to come away with yet another win at Memorial Stadium this weekend.  Here are the keys to victory...
 
 
Ground and Pound
 
Running the ball well takes away Cal's ability to blitz our of their 3-4 defensive set, and sets Oregon State up to drive the stake through their collective heart with play action.
 
Earlier this week Mike Riley stated that the Beavers' ground game "has been very important and will be once again."  

 

Keep Syd'Quan out of It

Aside from Jahvid Best, the most dangerous player on the Cal side may very well be Syd'Quan Thompson
 
There is a reason why Oregon State recruited Thompson so heavily and why it was such a bitter pill to swallow when he chose Cal. 
 
Thompson is an outstanding corner and punt returner who is dangerous with the ball anywhere near him.  OSU needs to keep the ball out of his hands.

 


Get after Kevin Riley early

The mercurial Cal signal caller usually sets the tone for his day on the field early And he has shown that he suffers from the lack of short term memory so critical for successful quarterbacks
 
Riley has huge upside but tends to be streaky -- so good plays beget more, but bad plays seem to shake his confidence badly and lead to more as well. 
 
Putting Cal in a hole and putting pressure on a mentally fragile QB will make garnering a victory a lot easier.

 

REVIEWING LAST WEEK'S KEYS:
 
  1. Flat Isn't In Our Vocabulary:  Oregon State came out early and put points on the board, which was good.  They were again a bit inefficient in the red zone, settling for field goals 4 out of their first 5 trips into the red zone, with some key penalties that forced a FG attempt instead of a TD drive.  Grade:  B-

     
  2. Keep On Keeping On:  The Beavers needed to continue their trend of limiting turnovers, and again Quizz extended his superhuman streak to 500 touches without a fumble, and Canfield had another interception-free outing (despite one incredibly frightening moment shared with Alterraun Verner).  Grade:  A

     
  3. Bend But Don't Break:  The BeaverFootball.com staff has elected to grade this particular category by quarter:  1st Q: A  2nd Q: A  3rd Q: B  4th Q:  F-minus.  Yikes.  Talk about letting down:  UCLA threw for over 200 yards in the final quarter of play, giving up 2 plays of over 40 yards and 4 plays of over 20 yards in the last 10 minutes of the game.  Rumor is that heart medication prescriptions were filled at a record rate for OSU fans last Sunday.

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