2010 Oregon State Football: Keys To the Game Against Louisville
Having narrowly lost to TCU in the season opener, the Oregon State Beavers return to face a vastly different opponent, the Louisville Cardinals.
Both programs have experienced success over the last decade, but in recent years, the Cardinals have struggled to stay in the pack of the country's elite.
For the Beavers, they will have had two weeks to review the tape of their close game with the Horned Frogs in "Jerry World."
Undoubtedly, Head Coach Mike Riley has a drawing board full of strategies and remedies to the issues that plagued the Beavers in Week 1. Here are the likely items on his clipboard entering Game 2 on Saturday.
1. Find Balance in The Offensive Play-Calling
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Junior running back Jacquizz Rodgers had just 18 carries for 75 yards against TCU, a sign his coach may have given up too soon on the running game after the Horned Frogs initially shut the small back down.
The focus then shifted to untested sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz, who attempted 25 passes while only completing nine.
James Rodgers was also largely a non-factor. While generally balancing running attempts in the fly sweep with timely possession catches, James was limited to four catches and two carries in the season opener.
Riley will have to stick to what made the Beavers so successful last season:
Increased touches by Jacquizz Rodgers, enabling a higher possibility of the back reaching open field.
A higher level of deception in play-calling, creating big gains in long yardage situations.
Finding more creative ways to get Katz pass attempts, aside from "home run" tosses deep downfield.
2. Continue Conditioning Training of The Linebackers
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Watching highlights from the TCU game, it is difficult to miss the key points of the game on defense for Oregon State. The Beavers didn't allow quarterback Andy Dalton to defeat them through the air, but rather on the ground.
Dalton scored two touchdowns on the ground for the Horned Frogs, and it was clear the linebackers of OSU were beaten up front on both occasions. Throw in the speed of TCU's running back tandem, and the Beavs were simply outmatched.
Louisville is also a run-heavy team. With a total of 51 rush attempts between two backs, and just 52 pass attempts from Senior QB Adam Froman, it is clear the Cardinals' game plan is to run a balanced offense with an emphasis on power running.
What this means for Oregon State: The linebackers must assist in defense of the short passing game of the Cardinals, with increased awareness and quick reads at the line of scrimmage.
3. Fine-Tune Special Teams
Several times, the Beavers were forced to start deep in their own territory in Dallas, and the offense was forced to make one sensational play after another to move the ball downfield.
The special teams blocking unit must locate their intended targets sooner to allow lanes to open up for the Beavers' talented return men.
James Rodgers experienced success last season as OSU was able to block effectively on kick and punt returns.
Louisville is weak this season on special teams, an aspect of the game usually absent in teams going through transition stages.
Special teams will play a large role in the success or failure of the Oregon State football program on Saturday afternoon.
4. Use The Home-Field Advantage To Jump on Them Early
The quickest way to squash a visiting opponent's morale is to jump on them early.
While in a state of confusion and disbelief, the team will find it difficult to function under the increased pressure of the crowd noise and the immediate deficit they find themselves under.
While not nearly as large as other major college football venues, Reser Stadium still provides a cathedral for students and fans to create sufficient noise.
These two teams don't play each other often, so if Oregon State can jump on them early, the Cardinals will find themselves in unfamiliar and harsh territory.