It’s time for the weekly “scouting the opponent” future here on the blog. And for Oregon State week I like to turn to one of my favorite writers, Paul Buker of The Oregonian. You can follow Buker on his everything OSU blog, or on his Twitter account, both of which I highly recommend.
On with my questions, and Buker’s answers:
1, Can you give us an overview of the offense to date?: You figure if Oregon State ran up 416 yards on Arizona State and 486 yards on Arizona’s No. 2-ranked D last Saturday, and if first-year starting QB Ryan Katz (pictured right in an AP photo) has been on a roll (which he has), things look good here. But look closer, and tailback Jacquizz Rodgers will tell you the OSU run game “is horrible right now” after averaging a tepid 2.7 yards per carry in Tucson. And did we mention OSU has lost the services of WR/kick returner James Rodgers for the year with a knee injury? That will hit the Beavers right between the eyes at some point, even if sophomore Markus Wheaton – the cousin a guy UW fans might remember (KENNY WHEATON IS GOING TO SCORE! KENNY WHEATON IS GOING TO SCORE!) – turns out to be a game-breaker. Wheaton has some swelling in his right knee this week and was limited in practice. The Beavers also have two starting offensive linemen banged up, C Alex Linnenkohl (ankle) and LG Grant Johnson (neck). I mean, on paper Oregon State should be able to do SOMETHING in the run game against a UW run defense that ranks 106th nationally (207.60 allowed per game), but as Riley said this week, “we have to start blocking.”
2. How much will the offense miss James Rodgers and who fills in for him?: Rodgers was one of the top all-purpose runners in the nation and he’s become a terrific receiver, too, with a double-move that belongs in the NFL. But he got a cheap-shot helmet-to-helmet hit in Boise and suffered a concussion and then his knee got torn up after he got tangled up with Arizona safety Adam Hall in Tucson and now OSU fans won’t see him again until 2011. He is so important to OSU in so many ways, it’s hard to measure the impact of his loss. Wheaton is coming on fast, but he’s not James Rodgers. … collectively, the trio of Wheaton, flanker Aaron Nichols (a former walk-on) and gifted slotback Jordan Bishop can pick up the slack, says Riley. OSU offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said if UW tries to take Wheaton out with double coverage, he’s confident other OSU receivers can hurt the Huskies’ D. We will see.
3. How about an overview of the defense?: This is not the usual defense, as coached by highly-regarded defensive coordinator Mark Banker. Meaning, there are some holes, maybe because of the off-season impact of losing starting defensive end Matt LaGrone and starting MLB David Pa’aluhi, both for personal reasons. The Beavers have given up huge chunks of yardage, they’ve had trouble stopping the run, they been tortured by quarterbacks who can scramble, and until recently the secondary was in accident-waiting-to-happen mode. It is strange to see OSU ranked 88th nationally in run defense (176 yards allowed per game) and a cover-your-eyes 113th in total defense (456 yards allowed per game) but this week, Riley said OSU isn’t worried about the unsightly numbers as much as it is keeping other teams off the scoreboard. And OSU has done that just well enough to survive games against Louisville, ASU, and Arizona.
4. And I see the special teams have kicking issues, but are good on returns, can you fill us in with that?: Senior placekicker Justin Kahut underwent psychiatric counseling after the Arizona game. He’s fine now. … just kidding. Kahut did miss two PATs and his kickoffs were woefully short, but he said this week his confidence is back and why wouldn’t it be? He’s coming to Husky Stadium, a magical venue for OSU placekickers, given that Alexis Serna never missed a field goal there and Kahut is 2-for-2. … the Beavers’ return game was dynamite with James Rodgers. It isn’t bad with Wheaton and Jordan Poyer returning kickoffs, but not as potent. The likelihood of OSU breaking Saturday’s game open with a special teams play lessens with no James Rodgers.
5. What are a couple of the key things that make Mike Riley able to keep the Beavers near the top of the Pac-10 every year?: Stability of coaching staff. Ability to recruit players that fit the system. Ability to develop players that weren’t sought after by the ‘big time’ schools and turn them into all Pac-10 performers before they leave the program. A strong belief permeates the team – every year it seems – that no matter how badly the Beavers get their ears boxed in the pre-season (this time they took their lumps from TCU and Boise State) they will come on strong in October, November, and December. OSU’s record during those months, since 2004, is a collective 39-14 (.740).
6. What do you think most worries OSU about the Huskies?: 1. Jake Locker. 2. Chris Polk/Jermaine Kearse/Devin Aguilar. 3. Mason Foster and the Dawgs’ defense. 4. The diabolical mind of defensive coordinator Nick Holt. 5. The law of averages. … I mean, c’mon, six straight over the Huskies, and four straight in Husky Stadium? That’s man (or Beaver) bites dog stuff, isn’t it?
October 14, 2010 at 2:35 PM
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