1) Oregon State had an outstanding year, but seems to be flying under the radar. Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of this squad?
Barry Bolton — Stopping the run has become the Beavs' calling card on defense and it's been built upon the plugging up the middle. They have played better against the pass than statistics would indicate but have been hurt by short passes turning into bigger gains. Over on offense, OSU is a methodical offense but has a very good group of receiving threats that makes a lot of their yards after the catch. The OSU running game has been steady if not spectacular. The o-line has done a solid job, particularly in pass protection.
2) Like Texas in recent years, Oregon State has had some struggles at the quarterback position. Where are the Beavers at heading into the Alamo Bowl? What is each quarterback's skill set?
Bolton — Oregon State will go with junior Cody Vaz in the Alamo Bowl, generally seen as a mild surprise that Mike Riley went with Vaz over Sean Mannion. Vaz has more touch and has a little more escapability. Mannion hasn't been quite the same since his injury and his accuracy has suffered. Mannion does have the stronger arm and when he's on, he can wing it with the best of them. The problem has been that he hasn't been on for a while.
3) One of the things that Mack Brown has talked about is Mike Riley's ability to find balance offensively, often altering his system depending on the talent at-hand. What should Texas fans watch for when Oregon State is on offense?
Bolton — Riley would ideally like a 50-50 balance between the pass and run but with receivers Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, he's gone to the air more times (475-400) than the run. And the running game has seemed to go or not go with the health of Storm Woods though Terron Ward has been coming on stronger of late. One thing Riley often likes to do is to wing it on the first series, before settling down into the game plan.
4) What does Oregon State bring to the table defensively?
Bolton — It's tough to go up the middle on OSU, but teams that spread it out and use the cutback lanes have found some room. The secondary is a good one, with All-America corner Jordan Poyer and the underrated Rashaad Reynolds on the corners. Safety Ryan Murphy hits hard and is also an interception threat. Up front, Castro Masaniai is a load and DE Scott Crichton has been unblockable at times. Speedy linebackers Michael Doctor and D.J. Alexander are both capable of a big game on San Antonio.
5) Do you feel there Is there a specific matchup to watch for in the Alamo Bowl?
Bolton — The Oregon State defensive front against the Texas run. If the Beavs can win that battle, they should be in good shape. If not, it will be a challenge for the Beavs to come out with a W.