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UCLA at Oregon State Preview: Coaching, Special Teams And Keys To The Game

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Gary Andersen will look to lead the Beavers to victory in the rain when his Oregon State team faces UCLA this afternoon.

Gary Andersen has taken over as the head coach of Oregon State after two years at Wisconsin.
Gary Andersen has taken over as the head coach of Oregon State after two years at Wisconsin.
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

As the Bruins prepare to face off against the Beavers this afternoon, let's look at the Oregon State coaching staff and special teams.

Coaching

After Mike Riley chose to leave Corvallis for Nebraska, the Beavers hired Gary Andersen away from Wisconsin. Andersen is 32-15 as a head coach including his 2-4 record so far this season at Oregon State. In two seasons in Madison, Andersen was 19-7.

Andersen went to Wisconsin from Utah State, where he completely revitalized a program that had won just six games in the three previous seasons. The Aggies were 4-8 in Andersen’s first two years, improved to 7-6 in his third and then won a school-record 11 games and the Western Athletic Conference title in 2012. It was their first outright league championship since 1936.

While Andersen played center at Ricks College and the University of Utah, he has primarily coached the defensive side of the ball.

Andersen and Defensive Coordinator Kalani Sitake are utilizing a 3-4 defense. Sitake spent the previous ten seasons as defensive coach at the University of Utah where he worked with Andersen while Andersen was the defensive coordinator. When Andersen left Utah to take the head coaching job at Utah State, Sitake was promoted to defensive coordinator for the Utes.

The Beavers are ranked 96th in the nation in rushing defense, averaging 192 YPG. They are actually ranked ahead of UCLA who is ranked 109th and averaging 208 YPG. The Beavers' total defense is ranked higher (70th) because of their pass defense which is allowing an average of 206 YPG.

On the offensive side, Oregon State is led by Dave Baldwin. Most recently, Baldwin spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Colorado State where, in the 2014 season, CSU was the only team in the Football Bowl Subdivision to have a 4,000-yard passer, 1,700-yard receiver and 1,200-yard rusher. CSU won nine straight games during the 2014 season and was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Rams wide receiver Rashard Higgins earned Associated Press First Team All-America honors after breaking every CSU single season record with an NCAA leading 1,750 yards. Rams quarterback Garrett Grayson was among the top players at his position throughout the season being selected the Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year and was a third-round pick of the New Orleans Saints in the NFL Draft.

Despite those 2014 numbers from Colorado State, the 2015 Beavers have averaged more yards per game on the ground (179 YPG) than through the air (159.6 YPG) and the Beavers are ranked near the bottom nationally in passing offense and, as a result, near the bottom nationally in total offense (113 out of 127) as well.

Special Teams

Placekicking will be handled by Garrett Owens. Owens is a sophomore from Arroyo Grande, CA. He is 10 for 13 on field goal attempts this season, missing three kicks over 40 yards, and he has been perfect on extra points. His career long is 50 yards.

Punting duties will be handled by redshirt sophomore Nick Porebski from Melbourne, Australia. Porebski can punt in both traditional and rugby-styles and he is capable of kicking with either foot. So far this season, he has punted the ball inside the 20-yard line 17 times and he has 6 punts longer than 50 yards. Currently, OSU ranks 15th in the nation in Net Punting and 21st in the nation in Punt Defense.

The return guys for Oregon State will be wide receivers Rahmel Dockery and Victor Bolden. Bolden is a particularly dangerous return man who broke loose against Washington State for a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Keys To The Game

1. Score Early: The Beavers have been getting beat up in the first half. They have given up a total of 162 first half points while only scoring 84. They are still giving up more second half points than they have been scoring, but, if UCLA can double up OSU's first half points, they will be in the driver's seat.

2. Slow Down The Run: The Bruins have one of the worst rushing defenses in the country and this OSU offense needs to run the ball well in order to win. The Bruins will need to slow down the OSU rushing attack and get the defense off the field.

3. Hold On To The Football: It is supposed to be rainy and wet throughout the course of the game. A wet football can mean turnovers. UCLA needs to avoid putting the ball on the ground in conditions they aren't used to.

And that will wrap up our final preview of today's game against OSU.

Go Bruins!!!