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Spaulding Roundup: More Oregon State Notes

Let’s continue with our notes on Oregon State. Here is the latest re. the QB situation in Corvallis:

Beavers quarterback Lyle Moevao, who injured his right throwing shoulder against Arizona State, didn't practice Wednesday and told The Oregonian that he didn't expect to start Saturday.

Sean Canfield, a lefthander, led Oregon State to a come-from-behind 27-25 win against ASU and will likely start Saturday.

I really like the way Walker is setting the mindset for his defense:

"We're still going to prepare for both," UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "They have a good system. They're not going to change the system. One is right-handed, one is left-handed. One's a little shorter. One's a little taller. But they're going to do what they do. It's more or less trying to prepare for their schemes, more so than which quarterback is going to play."

Crucial for Walker will be the continued solid contribution from ATV and Norris at our CB spots. Kevin Pearson from the Press Enterprise has a good story on how the Bruin CBs have been working to stay sharp and fresh (as much as practicable) while taking every snap with the first team this season:

Norris said he and Verner have been diligent about sitting in the ice tub after practice and staying off their legs during the day. The two are taking almost every first-team rep in practice all week and acknowledge they're often sore before Saturday's game even begins.

"We're knocking on wood," defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said. "You hate to be in this situation, but it is what it is.

"You have to give those guys a lot of credit. They've had a good year and kept us out of trouble. We just hope they can make it through the season."

That the two have been as good as they have while being used so much is telling. Walker likes to run a defensive scheme that gives its corners almost no help, and the pair has been solid in pass coverage.

With four games remaining, both Norris and Verner acknowledge they could hit a wall, but say they are doing all they can to not wear down. And while Verner said it's been physically demanding, the pair has had to be just as mentally tough to handle the challenge.

They will be under a lot of pressure on them this Saturday taking on Rodgers brothers (Jacquizz and don’t forget about James), Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales. I am sure Walker and his coaches are going drill into their defense about the need to tackle because if they come out with a sloppy effort against this offense, Beavers will have no trouble ending Riley’s winless streak at the Rose Bowl.

On the other side of the ball, UCLA receivers see an opportunity against Oregon St. DBs:

The UCLA receivers have seen videotape of Oregon State's defense and know the Beavers have been burned on fade routes this fall.

"They play a lot of man bump," freshman receiver Taylor Embree said. "Any time you play that, you're susceptible to getting beat deep."

The question is, can the Bruins' offensive line supply the time to let longer routes develop? Embree said the receiving corps can't worry about what's happening back at the line of scrimmage.

"We've just got to keep believing in our line," he said. "We just stay true to what our route depths are and the routes we run."

Meanwhile, Oregon State Coach Mike Riley said his defensive backs are working to improve their coverage against the deep ball.

"Everybody sees the film, sees where something is happening," he said. "Yes, we have worked on it and we'll work on it some more."

CV300 over at Building the Dam has a good explanation re. Oregon St’s pass defense against the deep ball:

The Beavers defense is built to stop any elite offensive team, particularly ones with good quarterbacks, by making them one dimensional.  The first way it does this is by controlling the gaps in the middle of the offensive front and forcing running plays to the outside of the field where the Beavers superior team speed and ball pursuit will have the advantage against all but a few players in the conference.  

Joe McKnight couldn't get to the corner, maybe Jahvid Best can?  Remember, these guys practice against James Rodgers--so they have an idea about defending speed.

Stopping the run is the key to putting teams in 2nd or 3rd and long so they are forced into low percentage passing plays against a heavy pass rush that gets to the quarterback. If you can't stop the run on first down, then you will lose ball games--ask USC how it felt to constantly defend against a short line to gain.   They probably didn't like it.

Effective man coverage is essential to this strategy on passing plays because it provides Mark Banker's defense with more personnel options to hurry the quarterback. Sacking a quarterback significantly reduces the chances that a team will score on their offensive possession.

As for the defensive backs--in man coverage--their first job is to play the man.  Receivers are always at the advantage because they know where they're supposed to go and the defender does not.  If a defender turns around to look for the ball and it's properly thrown to hit the receiver in stride over-the-shoulder style, then he is probably face down and out of the video frame like that guy Quizz mauled on that outside counter play against ASU.  And your guy will be in the endzone every time. 

That's why they coach it like they do; it's to prevent touchdowns and force the offense to consistently drive the ball with running plays.  Not a lot of teams can do that against OSU. 

Good to see those guys are already looking forward to taking on Jahvid Best (j/k people).

In all seriousness, that explanation makes a lot of sense and as he goes on to explain the scheme is the right one for team that is trying to put together a program without having access to kind of blue chip talents usually available to perennial top-5 programs.

I think the key to beating these guys again will be Kevin Craft. He will have to make smart decisions by not trying to win the game by himself. I don’t expect UCLA running backs to have a lot of success against the Oregon State defense. What I am hopeful about is Craft to be able to move the ball by completing those short passes on first and second down, which should essentially serve as quasi running plays for our offense. That is the classic WCO, the late great Coach Walsh mastered at Candlestick Park. Hopefully the bye week has reenergized Bell, Coleman, Moline, Craft and rest of their team-mates. If they come out with focus, purpose and aggression against the Beavers on Saturday, Bruins will able to start the second half of this season on a great note.