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OPPONENT PREVIEW: Oregon State Beavers

(12:08 EDIT: I added Nuss's interview with Building the Dam)

Head Coach: Mike Riley

Record 7-3 (5-2)

In Grady's recap of Washington State's loss to Arizona a few weeks ago, he decided to go with a sort of "fill-in-the-blank" form, instead of writing a same as usual story about a game that was never in doubt.  This is how the opponent previews have begun to feel.

Seriously, go take a look at the opponent previews of all the Pac 10 teams.  It is always "Pac 10 team X has a solid running game and balance that with a good passing attack" and "Pac 10 defense X has done pretty well against the run and the pass and is about average in terms of yards per play."  It's no surprise the race for the Rose Bowl is so jammed up this year, ALL THE TEAMS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME!  Except the Cougs of course.  As a comment to the rest of the country, that does not mean the Pac 10 sucks, it means it is deep with a lot of very good teams.  Just remember, our fifth place team beat Ohio State in the Horseshoe with a freshman quarterback.  What was the point of this post again? Oh yeah, on with the preview of the Beavs.

Offense: 31.4 PPG, 5.8 YPP

The Beaver offense may not be an explosive attack (guessing they will look like one on Saturday), but it is highly effective in all aspects of the game.  Senior Sean Canfield is having a fantastic season, completing nearly 70% of his passes, while throwing 17 touchdowns to just five interceptions.  He has not been immune to pressure however, as he has been sacked 26 times this season.

The bulk of the offense is run through two guys who grew up in the same household.  The younger brother, Jacquizz Rodgers, has been a workhorse, carrying the ball 215 times for 1148 yards and catching 62 passes.  The elder James Rodgers leads the Beavers with 71 receptions and has also carried the ball 46 times.  If you were to guess on each Beaver play that a guy with the last name "Rodgers" would be involved, you would be right more often than not.

No shocker to Coug fans, OSU should have an easy time moving the ball.  The issue of pressure on Canfield should not be a factor, as the Washington State defense will be taking volunteers from the stands to fill out the defensive line.

Defense: 23.4, 5.5 YPP

The Beavs don't have a particularly stout defense in term of yards per play and they don't possess that ability to get in the backfield they used to (14 sacks, just three more than the vaunted Cougar pass rush).  What they have down really well is get off the field on third downs.  Opponents are converting just 37% of their opportunities, and that has made the difference in what is otherwise only slight statistical advantages across the board.  They haven't forced a lot of turnovers (just 11), but that is not as necessary with their ability to prevent the other guys from moving the chains.

The leading tackler for OSU is senior linebacker Keaton Kristick, who has 74 to go along with a pair of interceptions and 6.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore defensive back Lance Mitchell has three of the team's seven interceptions.  Junior Stephen Paea leads the defensive line with 5.5 tackles for loss, including three sacks.

Look for Oregon State to out-man the Cougs on this side of the ball.  Points will not be easy to come by, with sustained drives highly unlikely.  It is going to take another deep pass for Wazzu to score in this one.

The Beavers are in trouble if:  They are not.  Not at all.  One place where these two schools do stack up well is in the engineering department.  On that note, I suggest you click this link, and laugh hysterically.

What the other guys are saying: An interview previewing the Cougs’ upcoming game against Oregon State with writer Jake Bertalotto. Topics covered include the Beavers’ potent three-headed attack on offense, the keys to their defense, and just how determined OSU is to not have a repeat of last year. You can listen to the interview on the embedded player here, go to our podcast site, or subscribe to it on iTunes.