October 31, 2008

Ask the Expert Q&A: Oregon State Beavers

BeaverBlitz Publisher Angie Machado was kind enough to take some time to answer some questions we put to her this week about Oregon State's squad, and Saturday's game against the Sun Devils.

What is it about coach Mike Riley's personality and/or approach to coaching football that has led to such a level of consistency? Coach Erickson said that the job coach Riley has done in recent years is one of the most impressive in the country all things considered.

Coach Riley has done an outstanding job of finding athletes who are smart, have great work ethics, and want to be at Oregon State. Some of these players (Victor Butler and Slade Norris are two that come to mind) have come in slightly undersized, but with the proper coaching and a strong work ethic, they've turned into great players.

Another attribute of Coach Riley is his personal level of consistency. He is completely even keel and never gets too excited or too angry. At the end of the day however, the coaching staff has done an outstanding job identifying talent and then coaching the athletes up to their full potential.

The Beavers have sometimes been known to have slow starts to the season and then get increasingly better. What is it about the program that contributes to that and is that a indication of the types of players being recruited to the team?

Beaver fans have really struggled with trying to find an answer to this same question over the years. On one hand, Riley's offense is very complicated and it can take quarterbacks a little time to get things down. This year it was the defense that struggled early, but they were also breaking in the entire front seven.

The defense struggled early and they were overmatched and maybe a little awe struck at Penn State. The Hawaii game was a turning point for them though where everything seemed to 'click'.

Jacquizz Rodgers has received quite a bit of publicity but obviously it takes a running back working on concert with the offensive line to have a successful rushing attack. Why has this group been so successful at times?

The offensive line has far exceeded most people's expectations. Going into fall camp this was one of the big question marks and Coach Riley even mentioned that the Beavers season really hinged on how well the offensive line played.

Opening the season the Beavers had a new starting center in Alex Linnenkohl and walk-on redshirt freshman, Mike Remmers starting at right tackle for Tavita Thompson who was spending a year under NCAA suspension. All of the credit goes to Coach Cavanaugh and the veterans on the line that stepped up and took the younger guys under their wings.

What are the strengths and weakness of OSU and are they what you anticipated they would be entering the season?

Offensively, the strengths of the Beavers are obviously centered on the play of the offensive line. The strong play of the big guys up front has allowed Oregon State to open up the run, which in turn has opened up the passing game. The Beavers have a multi-dimensional attack on offense with the Rodgers brothers, Sammie Stroughter and Shane Morales all making big plays.

The weakness offensively would be a lack of a true deep game. Quarterback Lyle Moevao is efficient and gets rid of the ball quickly and has been making very good decisions, but throwing the deep ball is not something we've seen a lot of this season.

Defensively, the Beaver front seven entered the season as the big question mark, but seven games into the season has proven to be the strength of the team. The secondary has suffered a few minor dings the past few weeks, and against the Huskies had a few deep balls thrown against them.

Are there any injuries or recent depth chart moves that ASU fans should be aware of?

The Beavers are coming off of a bye week so most of the starters should be ready to go. Offensive tackle, Tavita Thompson has regained his eligibility and looks to figure into the rotation in some regards, although Mike Remmers is expected to start.

What is your prediction for the game? How do you think it will play out and why?

I hate making predictions as most of the time, I end up wrong. It is supposed to be rainy and cold for the night game in Corvallis, which could be a blessing for the Beavers. It is Homecoming this weekend and the home fans will be rocking, looking for a victory over former coach Dennis Erickson.

That said, the Sun Devils are a better team than their record indicates and the Beavers can't let up. I'll take a page out of "Coachspeak 101"…I see the team who can establish the run and make the fewest mistakes coming out victorious on Saturday night…is that vague enough?

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