| Cougars (1-9) vs Beavers (4-4)|
AT A GLANCE
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Players to Know
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB: Heart and soul of the offense. He leads the team with 800 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Ranks second with 24 receptions. A stop and go back like few others, he has a dazzling array of moves and with his low center of gravity and 192 pounds packed onto his 5-7 frame, he's hard to bring down.
Ryan Katz, QB: The sophomore Katz hasn't looked dominant but he has been mostly efficient and avoided costly turnovers on the season. He has 12 passing TDs against 4 interceptions.
Markus Wheaton, WR: The primary replacement for James Rodgers (knee), he has a world of speed. Joe Halahuni, TE: Out of Orting, Wash., he has amazing hands and is one of the best tight end/h-back receiving threats around. Overview
Prior to last week, the Beaver's spread offense had been solid and reliable, averaging 31 points per game even in their losses. The Bruins shut down the normally strong running game however, holding Rodgers to under 100 yards. Katz is going to be a good one but the first year starter forces the ball too often and likes to throw deep, even into double coverage. He really isn't developed enough yet to shoulder the entire offensive load but he's got a rocket arm and is capable of big things at any time – just ask Arizona.
The defensive strategy really doesn't change much from last week. Keep the ground game under control and force OSU to beat you through the air. Bear down in the red zone and try to force field goal tries over touchdowns. It is critical that WSU stays at home – the fly sweep using Wheaton, the misdirection jump-stops by Quizz, these are what turn into big gainers by Oregon State.
THE BEAVERS ON DEFENSE
Players to Know
James Dockery, CB: Solid corner and team captain. Is capable of handling solo coverage, but will likely get plenty of help against Marquess Wilson. Should be an exciting matchup.
Brandon Hardin, CB: A converted safety, he's huge for a corner (6-2, 220). He is one of the fastest players on the Beavs – when running in a straight line. He is exceptional at playing the run and can knock the daylights out of ballcarriers. But he has been picked on, early and often and to a substantial amount of success by opponents, in coverage. Stephen Paea, DT: A strong, d-tackle who can flat out run, Paea is Job No. 1 for the Washington State o-line, and, in max protect, the tight ends and running backs. He's regularly seen double teams against every opponent this season. Overview
OSU runs a basic 4-3 but injuries to the interior line may force them to mix things up more than normal. Oregon State is blitzing slightly more than they were earlier in the season, and it's coming from one place -- the corner. The group overall has been unimpressive, ranking 8th the conference against the run (163 yards per) and pass (250 yards per), and that is without USC, Stanford, and Oregon on their resume. But they do a good job of bending but not breaking – against UCLA they gave up 210 yards rushing, but the Bruins had mustered only 14 points with one tick left on the clock.
The Beavs are thin at defensive tackle so try to squeak out rushing yards whenever feasible. Long drives really wear on this team. The deep ball works well, but only when executed with some degree of strategy and surprise. Opponents have found more success in passing out towards the sidelines than down the middle.
THE BEAVERS ON SPECIAL TEAM
OSU is unpredictable in the kicking department. Justin Kahut can nail a long field goal right down the middle, and then shank two extra points immediately after. He has made only 50 percent of his kicks on the year with a long of 41, and coach Mike Riley has started going for it on fourth down when the Beavs are in field goal range. The kick and punt return units have proven outstanding though, even amidst the loss of James Rodgers.
Yet another team surprisingly desperate for a win gets WSU just in time. The opportunities to catch a team taking a week off really haven't presented themselves to the Cougs. OSU is undefeated at home this season, but a mere 1-4 on the road. Quality of opponents accounts for most of that, but the offense definitely seems to click better in front of their home crowd. For a team that has made eight bowl games in nine years, it is remarkable that Paul Wulff continues keep pace or excel in recruiting against them. Katz is a good runner out of the pocket, but WSU has to stop Quizz first and foremost if they're to win. OSU is a little banged up – not as much as is WSU – but they have some deficiencies with DT Brennan Olander and WR James Rodgers on the sidelines. WSU has to take advantage there if they are to win.