BF.C Keys to the Game: TCU

IT FEELS LIKE the night before Christmas. After months of anticipation the TCU contest looms large, like a brightly wrapped gift with Beaver Nation's name on it. Yet there is an uneasiness that hangs in the air, wondering if that box contains the Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle or furry pink bunny pajamas from Aunt Clara.

It's hard not to feel that way. Oregon State's slow starts the past four years have been painful. The last time Oregon State won a September road game against an opponent with a winning record was Wyoming in 1993. That's ugly.

Times do change, however. And the Beavers have two fantastic opportunities to show that history means nothing to the men wearing the uniform today. That said, those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it, so we look to the things that worked – and didn't work – and analyze the opponent waiting for the Beavers on Saturday to find the Keys To The Game:

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1 – Start Fast

Mike Riley has alluded to the need for the offense to open up the playbook and not play close to the vest. The Beavers need "Riverboat Gambler Riley" on Saturday, the guy that called for a 2 point conversion in the Sun Bowl.

TCU's defense is fast and for real, their 4-2-5 scheme is active and pursues sideline to sideline, and a conservative gameplan will mean a lot of 3-and-outs. Expect offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf and head coach Mike Riley to open it up – it's up to the players to execute.


2 – Stuff the Run

For all of TCU's high flying box scores last year -- the Horned Frogs averaged 38 points per game -- this is still a run-first offense. They didn't have a single receiver who broke 600 yards in 2009.

They graduated a 1,500 yard rusher in Joseph Turner but return two sophomores with 600 yards each, and Andy Dalton rushed for 500 yards last year. They have a massive offensive line so an active and effective front seven for OSU will be a must.


3 – Attack the Edges

The Horned Frogs are solid up the middle, with junior linebacker Tank Carder leading the way and solid D-tackles manning the middle of the line. On the edges, though, the Frogs are not as solid, sending both '09 corners to the NFL and ceding DE Jerry Hughes to the first round of the NFL draft.

First-time starters face a nightmare in dual-threat James Rodgers, and either the safeties crowd the box to stop Jacquizz Rodgers or help with James. Either way, the soft belly of the TCU defense is out on the edge.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Every Oregon State team that has had a big year has had a "lightning in a bottle" factor. Staying healthy is one of the keys to catching that lightning, lucky bounces are another. But to put yourself in position to truly catch that lightning, you need to have eye-popping key players, and the Beavers have that in Paea, the Rodgers Brothers… and Ryan Katz.

Katz is special. This year's Oregon State Beavers have the potential to be special not in spite of the new signal caller, but because of him.



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