Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The Oregon State Beavers have a recovering secondary that will have to stop Matt Scott and the Arizona Wildcats' offense.
There's no overzealous feeling that the Oregon State Beavers can do the same thing the Ducks did even though the they have shut down two of the top running backs in the nation so far. Wisconsin Badgers back Montee Ball was first, then came UCLA Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin. Though the Wildcats employ more of a passing game, there's no denying Oregon State's defense has been stellar.
But they're not hearing it, according to The Oregonian.
"The scoreboard was definitely deceiving in that (Oregon) game," said sophomore defensive end Dylan Wynn after a victory against UCLA, and before the Wildcats' game in Tucson. "They have a strong offense with a lot of tools."
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw for 372 yards against the Beavers last weekend. While the OSU defensive game locked down Franklin, the secondary knows that it'll need to improve against UA quarterback Matt Scott, battered or not.
OSU quarterback Sean Mannion, like Scott, will be playing coming off a minor injury. He hurt his shoulder in the second quarter of Saturday's victory and has been limited in practice early this week. The sophomore went 24-for-35 in the win against UCLA, and threw for 379 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
As a freshman, Mannion had a field day against Arizona's weak defense last season in perhaps one of UA's worst defensive efforts of the year. Mannions hit 78 percent of his passes as Oregon State won 37-27 in 2011, the final blow to the Mike Stoops era.
Mannion's main targets will be Markus Wheaton, a Chandler, Ariz., native and Brandin Cooks, a speedy wide out who went for a 75-yard touchdown off a slant pass against the Bruins. Cooks can make a play out of nothing against Arizona's defense. Via The Oregonian:
"I love slants," Cooks said. "You break one tackle, and you're more than likely to go to the house.
"Sean just threw an amazing throw. He couldn't have hit any other spot. He threw it right on the dot. I just had to catch that ball, lock it up and go. Once I caught it, I looked up and there was a lot of green grass. I decided it was time for me to go and get it in the end zone.''
So the Wildcats will have their hands full. Against Mike Riley's tricky offense that will give the likes of Wheaton and Cooks the ball in passing situations, handoffs off movement before the snap and then on reverses, the savvy defense that showed up in Autzen will again be the key for Arizona, especially at home with an injured quarterback.