BF.C Keys to the Game: Washington

THE YEAR WAS 2001, and Oregon State had recorded a disappointing record through Week 8, to say the least. The Beavers were sitting at 3-5 when the Washington Huskies came to town, and that's when the t-shirt appeared in the visitor section -- a purple and gold t-shirt that read "Beavers: Back To The Basement Where You Belong."

One can only imagine that particular fan's walk of shame away from the stadium after the game – right after the Benton County Bandits put a 49-24 spanking on the Washington Huskies.

 

Though the 2002 and 2003 meetings were resounding victories for the Dawgs, those were the last two occasions UW has been able to claim a victory over the Beavers. 

 

Oregon State has reeled off five straight wins against the Huskies, with four of those victories crafted inside the confines of Husky Stadium.  (In a scheduling quirk, the Beavers played 3 straight years in Seattle, from 2004-2006.)

  

This year's venue is Reser Stadium, however, for only the third time in eight years. And it would appear that Oregon State isn't ready to give up their longest winning streak against a Pac 10 opponent just yet. 

 

Offensively the Beavers are a Swiss-army knife. Defensively, they appear to be peaking at just the right time.  The bowl-eligible Beavers are double-digit favorites this weekend (12 points) and Jacquizz Rodgers looks to get back to posting 100-yard rushing efforts facing the 2nd worst rushing defense in the conference.

 

One can only wonder if there is a certain vainglorious Husky fan still waiting for the day that special shirt can be broken out again -- hope he hasn't been holding his breath ‘lo these many years. On to the keys to the game:
 
Contain Jake Locker
 

File this key under "Duh". 

 

Jake Locker has rushed the ball far less this season under Steve Sarkisian, and as a result has remained upright. He's taken fewer big hits but the last two games or so the injury bug might have caught up to him -- he appeared in pain against both Oregon and UCLA.

 

But make no mistake -- just because Locker doesn't run, doesn't mean that he can't. 

 

The Huskies are sixth in the nation at converting third downs, and a big part of that has still been Jake Locker's legs. 

 

For OSU, it's simple.  Locker can't be allowed to run wild.
 
Calling Cyndi Lauper


The best thing that the Oregon State offense can do is simply give Sean Canfield time…after time, (rimshot please). 

 

The UW secondary is young, inexperienced and playing like it – they're ranked next to last in the Pac-10 in pass efficiency defense. 

 

If Canfield can get comfortable, he will slice up Washington's secondary with a surgeon's precision and it will be all over but the crying. 

Keep a foot on their throat

Oregon State occasionally this season has had games where they play "down" to an opponent, allowing the game to be much closer than it should be at the finish. 

 

Nobody knows how dangerous failing to finish your opponent is better than Arizona -- the Wildcats let the Huskies continue to hang around when an incompletion caromed off a receiver's foot and into Husky LB Mason Foster's waiting arms for a pick-six, putting the Dawgs in the lead for good.

  

OSU would be well served to remember the lessons from just a couple weeks ago, when UCLA was allowed to stay close and put on a furious fourth quarter rally that nearly sunk the Beavs.  

 
REVIEWING LAST WEEK'S KEYS:
 

1 - Ground and Pound.  Quizz was held to a season low 67 yards rushing as Cal dedicated their focus on stopping Rodgers in a manner that bordered on tunnel vision.  The "Pound" part of the equation was handled by super sophomore Joe Halahuni, who has tongues wagging about "the next great tight end" at Oregon State.  Grade: B

 

2 - Keep Syd'Quan Out of It:  The good news is that Oregon State's punt coverage team and Sean Canfield did an excellent job keeping the ball out of Syd'Quan Thompson's hands and off the stat line - until you look at the defensive stats.  Thompson was everywhere, inducing cringes in every OSU recruitnick's heart as he made tackle after tackle.  As far as a game plan goes, the Beavers' was excellent.  Grade: A

 

3 - Get After Kevin Riley:  As Emeril would say, "BAM!"  Riley was hit, harassed, chased, and hammered by the Beavers.  Officially the Beavers "only" racked up a pair of sacks, but if hurries and hits were officially recorded, the numbers would make defensive fans dizzy with joy.  New starting DE's Matt LaGrone and Gabe Miller proved to be a good choice as the two young, raw edge crashers wreaked havoc on a dinged up Cal OL.  As well they should.


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