With Arizona riding a 4-0 start the Cats look to continue their winning ways against Oregon State who travels to Tucson on Saturday at 6:00 E.S.T. The Cats have looked impressive throughout the 2010 season by boasting the #2 defense in the country. It hasn't been a walk in the park either. The Cats absolutely shut down Iowa and Cal in weeks three and four and were able to get enough on offense to squeak both wins out. Don't think this will be a night off against Oregon State this weekend.
As I have said (publicly and privately), the Beavers played one hell of a game against TCU on September 4, falling to the Horned Frogs by a score of 30-21. Keep in mind that TCU has building a program for years and deserves a national title bid should they continue to win out. The Beavers have beaten Louisville by a score of 35-28, lost to Boise State (another national title contender) by a score of 37-24 and beat Arizona State by a score of 31-28. The Beavers boast a high powered passing and running attack which are both capable of hitting the home run on any occasion. If you don't know who the Rodgers brothers are, you better check yourself. Jacquizz Rodgers and James Rodgers, RB and WR respectively, are the dual threat that has made the Oregon State offense what it is today. So, what are the Cats going to do to shut these guys down? Watch and get learned:
The Oregon State defense has been exposed early and often this year. Unfortunately for those of you who would like to think this is a good think, imagine two of their four foes being TCU and Boise State. Now slap your self silly and get with the truth. They were! Oregon State surrendered 30 to TCU and 37 to Boise but ALSO gave up 35 to Louisville and 31 to Arizona State. Louisville currently ranks 29th in the country in total offense and Arizona State ranks 17th. (Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaatttttttttttttttttttt?) Believe it. Currently, Arizona is ranked #39 in the country on offense so statistically speaking, Oregon State is in trouble.
So, what does this mean for Cats Fans? Our offense better step it up. With Juron Criner healthy, the Cats couldn't be more poised to have a breakout game to solidify their #9 ranking. TCU was able to beat Oregon State with a bull rush of 54 attempts vs. 27 passing attempts. Boise State had a more healthy mix of run and pass that kept the Beavers defense on edge all night and ended the game mid way through the third quarter. Arizona needs to not abandon the run if it is not working. TCU kept with it, attempt after attempt before they finally found the stretch play to work out against the Beavers. We know that Foles can pass. Let's see how patient the Cats can be on the run plays for Grigsby and Antolin. Work the run, set up the pass. Patience young padoins. Patience.
In my opinion, the Rodgers brothers are the 2nd scariest offense (1st here) that the Cats will face this year. They possess an athletic offensive line with a semi mobile quarterback who has a deceptively strong arm. If Ryan Katz is on, the Beavers play action is deadly. His dome is his only weakness. Decision making will be the key for this young man as he takes on the #2 defense in the country who has failed to make a major defensive mistake all year.
Keep It In Front
As the Patriots did to the Miami Dolphins last night, bend don't break. They consistently stopped the run and made Henne throw on third and long with consistent blitz packages. The result? Four interceptions and throws short of the first down marker. I believe that if Arizona can shut down Jacquizz Rodgers and get to third downs, a little bit of pressure will allow the Cats to take advantage of the mentally shaky Katz. I expect lots of bland/conservative Arizona play on first down to force the Beavers into 2nd and 3rd and longs to put the pressure on the weaker offensive threat in Katz.
Let's be honest, the Cats are ranked #9 but have jumped considerably be beating a mediocre (once thought of as higher) Cal team and an overrated Toledo and terrible Citadel team. Iowa is the only solid win on the books for the Cats right now. I still think our biggest tests are out there and firmly believe that Oregon State is one of them. Don't take these guys lightly. Their offensive line is physical and their QB, WR, and RB all have the potential to stick it to you at any given moment. We have to keep our defense true and stick to their assignments. Giving up the home run is not an option. Bend don't break.
What are your thoughts on Oregon State?