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The Beaver beat

Jake over at Building the Dam and I sat down for a little Q & A on tomorrow's game between Oregon State and the Utes. You can see my answers to his questions here and now his answers to mine.

Block U: 1. Do you think going with two quarterbacks for the Utah game is a wise move by Mike Riley? Utah did something similar against the Bruins last year, going with Ratliff and Tommy Grady, and it turned out to be an unmitigated disaster. In fact, it seems more times than not that going with this setup leads to struggles as opposed to success. Does this concern you?

Jake, Building the Dam : It concerns me, but there aren't many options. Canfield is the incumbent, but Moevao has earned every right for a chance to start. Neither one has separated themselves from the other, so that caused the coaches to decide to play both. And with Riley's style of coaching, I don't think he's ready to say no to one guy yet. We'll see how it plays out, both guys will get their respective quarters in the first half, and I wouldn't be surprised if we only see one guy in the second half. Unless maybe the game tilts heavily one way or the other.

Block U: 2. With Sammie Stroughter most likely not playing, how does this change the Beaver offense? Will it be a major impact, or do they have receivers that can step in and fill his shoes?

Jake, Building the Dam : The good news about this situation for us is that he was only at four days of camp, if you don't count the recent appearances he's made. So, we have been practicing without Sammie for the majority of camp. We have guys who can step up and replace him like Anthony Brown, Chris Johnson, and Brandon Powers, to name a few. We also have a lot of talented freshman at many positions that are wavering on the redshirt list. We may see some of them, we may save some of them for the next four years.

So, the offense doesn't change. We've been without Sammie for long enough that it isn't a shock, and we should be good to go without him. We'll miss him though, especially as a returner. No wait, especially as a receiver. Nevermind, we'll just miss him.

Block U: 3. Oregon State had trouble defending the spread offense last year, giving up more than 30 points on average to Boise State, Oregon, Hawaii and Missouri. The Utes run a spread offense, so do you think they will have a tough time when it comes to stopping Utah's offense? Do you also think Oregon State's secondary will improve over last year's, which clearly struggled?

Jake, Building the Dam : I fully expect OSU's secondary to be better this year than last, and it's defense as a whole. The secondary are all veterans, the linebackers are all veterans, and the line is very talented. The loss of Coye Franceis (booted) at cornerback hurts us a little, but he was a backup. Sabby Piscitelli, last year's safety, is gone for the NFL, but Afalava, Payton, and Drayton will fill his shoes nicely. Expect a few monster hits from Afalava.

Our quarterbacks have even been commenting on the skill level of our defense, saying their excited to play Utah so they can see a new defense.

Block U: 4. Yvenson Bernard is an All-American candidate and is expected to have a great season. Yet last year Oregon State's rushing offense ranked 81st in the nation, even behind Utah. With such a great back like Bernard, are you concerned that maybe the Beavers running attack will be identical to last year?

Jake, Building the Dam : Stats don't lie, but it doesn't seem like our rushing attack was that bad last year. Yvenson will definitely be better, and with our new QB, whoever it may be, we are probably going to run the ball a lot this year. I'm sure the passing game will come, but when you're breaking in a new QB, that's just the way it is.

Block U: 5. The Beavers had a great season in '06, but also had a ton of close calls. The general rule of percentages suggests that they won't get nearly as many breaks this year as they did last. Do you think they will replicate last year, or will they have one of those seasons where every close game goes the opponent's way (like Utah in 2005)?

Jake, Building the Dam : There's really no way to tell. You hope that your team wins all the close games, but what goes around comes around. We still had our share of games we should have won last year, (Washington State especially) but we got some breaks too (Oregon, USC, Missouri, Hawaii).

Block U: 6. Finally, what's your prediction for the game?

Jake, Building the Dam : 6. The average fan writes off home, preseason, non-conference games, (the Beavers have won 22 of those in a row) especially openers. But Utah is not Eastern Washington or Idaho or (the old) Portland State. They're a top-25 caliber team, and a team that will give OSU a run for their money. My gut says Oregon State by a two touchdowns, but when you break it down, this game could come down to a field goal. (This game will be a kicker's duel too, by the way) So let's say Oregon State 17, Utah 14. I'm sure the game will be higher scoring than that, but you're supposed to go with your first thought, right?

I would like to thank Jake for the Q & A and I hope both our predictions for tomorrow's game are wrong.