BF.C Keys to the Game – Arizona State

BeaverFootball.com Columnist
Posted Sep 30, 2010


A SEPTEMBER TO remember? Not quite. But there’s also no need for Beaver fans to conjure up the mental image of Animal House’s Chip Diller when they hear this -- ‘Remain calm! All is well!’ And a number of things could go well for Oregon State this Saturday. For starters, there’s the ASU secondary..

September and its annual OSU doldrums (1-14 record on the road under Mike Riley) are over. Done. Good riddance and goodbye. And while the Beavers enter Pac 10 play with a 1-2 record, there is still much to like about his 2010 vintage after a grueling non-conference schedule that included road trips to not one, but two Top 5 ranked teams.

Despite breaking in a first time starter at quarterback -- and featuring inconsistent offensive line play to go with spotty defense -- the Beavers were right there, in every game, during the month of September. And so imagine what they might be capable of if they start hitting on all cylinders.

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The Beavers are a little battered and a little bruised headed into Saturday. James Rodgers, assuming he will play, is coming off a concussion (Say, haven't seen much discussion about this, did anyone have any thoughts about that play?). And arguably OSU’s best linebacker, Dwight Roberson, is out (knee). Overall, however, the Beavers are reasonably healthy at this point and in comparison to others. And Saturday they welcome a chance to “get right” with a home game against ASU.

As far as James Rodgers goes, Oregon State is going to need him against a stout Sun Devil front seven. But they also need other pass grabbers to step up – Quon can’t do it all by himself and will certainly be a focus of ASU's scheme. And ASU is fast, and that’s understating it.

Dennis Erickson’s troops feature arguably the best middle linebacker in the Pac 10 in Vontaze Burfict, still just a true soph, and arguably the best Pac-10 defensive end in Lawrence Guy. The Sun Devil front seven is scary good – last week they largely held No. 5 Oregon’s rushing attack in check, allowing just 145 yards on the ground. When was the last time that happened to UO?

But the ASU secondary is another story.

Oregon QB Darren Thomas chucked the ball all over the yard, to the tune of 260 yards, which frankly is a lot in Oregon’s system and certainly more than the Ducks want their first year starter to be throwing.

Of particular note was the production from the Oregon TE position, which should have Joe Halahuni envisioning big things this week during film study.

This is a classic opportunity for Oregon State to flip the switch and get on the right track. Here are the Keys To The Game…

Protect the QB

This key can’t be overstated – it’s No. 1 with a bullet. There’s one way for Oregon State to deal with ASU’s nasty front seven, and it isn’t by running the ball. The Beavs have to go deep, and they have to protect Ryan Katz well enough to let him set his feet to do that. And then Katz needs to start connecting on those deep throws he has been missing by a smidge. Accomplishing this will open everything else up. Fail to stretch this D and it will be a rough night. It will take a combination of better execution and designed scheme to make this happen.

Don’t Come Apart At the Seams

ASU QB Steven Threet threw the ball all over the place against Oregon but nowhere was he better than launching rockets right down the seam, a staple in ASU’s vertical offense -- being coordinated by ASU first year man Noel Mazzone, whom Beaver Fans will remember from his tenure in Corvallis (2002, RB’s, ST) under Erickson. Particularly filthy for ASU last week was the lanky yet physical Gerell Robinson, a load at 6-4, 222 pounds. The junior WR hadn’t caught a ball all year coming in but notched 7 grabs for 94 yards against the Ducks. He will be one to watch – and stop.

Feed on that Corvallis Energy

The Beavers need some big plays to get the crowd in it, and then to feed off an amped-up home crowd. Big plays early and a sustained effort will keep that crowd feeding them – the Beavers need to come out with fire and intensity, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The pass rush has been MIA so far this year, but ASU’s offensive line is nowhere near the TCU/BSU caliber. Is this the week they bust out? Here’s hoping d-line coach Joe Seumalo has a fire lit under them.

REVIEWING LAST WEEK'S KEYS
 
  1. 1 – Be Cool
    Actually the Beavers did a pretty decent job adjusting to Boise’s motion. The problem was less getting off blocks and more about wrapping up power running back Doug Martin, and some mental errors in coverage, along with some questionable PI calls. Not a perfect performance in this category, but solid. Grade: B

    2 – Know where Austin Pettis is..
    Pettis had 4 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Not a lockdown performance but he certainly wasn’t the iceberg that sank the Titanic here. Maybe this key should have been “know where Titus Young is” although the BF.C Department of Officiating Rules and Regulations would still like a review of the 49-yard touchdown where Young advanced his position (and not “immediately” returning to the field as stated by the rules) about a gazillion yards out of bounds after being jammed out past the sideline by CB Brandon Hardin. Grade: A-

    3 – Play Four Quarters on Offense
    The Beaver Offense managed just one field goal in the first half. They then came out guns blazing with an 81 yard drive in the third quarter, and converted a fumble recovery for a 31 yard TD. But apart than that, they were mostly silent on the night. One good, solid, sustained drive just won’t get it done. Grade: D-

    Extra Key – Owning the Blue
    No sacks were logged. Worse, the Beavers had virtually no pass rush all night. Moore was able to sit back, relax and play pitch-and-catch with his receivers -- who were actually fairly well-covered but with no significant pressure, Moore was able to continually convert low percentage throws into catches and big gains. Grade: F. Maybe even a G. That’s right. We’re inventing a new grading scale. It was just that bad.

    Questions, caveats, comments, kvetches, clarifications – you know the drill, send them here




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