Jake Bertalotto from "Building the Dam" joins us on the eve of the game for a little Q&A. I think most of you have been over to Jakes blog in the past and realize he does a great job covering Oregon State Beaver sports.
John: How much will it impact the Oregon State offense having Canfield out this week?
Jake: Canfield is obviously our best quarterback, so it will definitely hurt us. He's had problems with interceptions this year, but he is our best passer. Moevao has a strong arm and quick feet but he's short-- I'm sure you guys will try hard to get in his face, as he gets a lot of passes batted down as is. Between Canfield and Moevao, Canfield has the best command of the offense right now, and I'm kind of worried about how Moevao will manage the game.
While Canfield has gotten the job done enough to have won five games, he hasn't been spectacular. Personally, I want to see what Moevao will do with the entire game to himself. We've only seen him play while splitting time with Canfield or in mop-up situations. However, the key for OSU's offense is the return and effectiveness of Yvenson Bernard.
Jake: I've heard that Locker should be good to go on Saturday-- What exactly happened to him? And will the injury he is recovering from affect his mobility and/or passing ability?
John: Jake bruised his shoulder a bit running for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Stanford. After the game the trainers iced him down like Nolan Ryan after nine inning at age 45. It turned out just to be precautionary and he was 100% all week. Jake shouldn't have any problems on Saturday except for the eleven guys dressed in black and orange.
Jake: Of course, you must flaunt the fact that Jake was running for a touchdown when he was hurt ;). Canfield injured his shoulder on an 18 yard scramble that resulted in him being slammed into the turf as he attempted to slide.
John: What about Yvenson Bernard, it sounds like he is still pretty sore, how do you think he will do this weekend?
Jake: Bernard will probably still be sore this weekend, but he won't show it. He plays through pain all the time, and I'm glad he removed himself from the game when the actual shoulder sprain occurred. This dude is tough, and not much can stop him from playing.
Jake: The Huskies haven't played at Reser Stadium since 2003. That was two renovations ago. With the Beavers expecting the largest crowd in school history, what are your thoughts on the 'Dawgs playing at Reser? It's going to be loud, but I know the Huskies have experience playing in a loud stadium.
John: I would love to see Reser again in person, and it looks great from the photos I have seen. As far as crowd noise you get that on the road everywhere you play except for Stanford, so the Huskies should be prepared for it. I have been to Reser quite a few times, but I can't remember it being particularly loud like Oregon, or ASU. I was at ASU this year and it was just an intimidating circus. I think the weather will play a lot bigger part in the game than the crowd. It is going to be slick, and cold out there, so the team that hangs on to the ball the best should have the advantage.
John: Tell me a little about the running backs behind Bernard. I have a feeling that OSU is going to be running most of the day, and that means they will probably rotate their backs.
Jake: Behind Bernard, the Beavers have Matthew Sieverson and Clinton Polk. Matt is listed as second string on the depth chart, but I think Clinton is the better back. Matt is a senior out of Bend, Oregon who is a hard worker and earned every bit of the playing time he's gotten. He's a bit slow for a Pac-10 back. But he's a quality back, and a quality guy. Clinton is a better runner in my opinion, but I think he has some disciplinary problems. Don't know this for sure, but it's my assumption. He's the one that took over for Bernard last year and proceeded to put 100 yards up on USC to help out in a 33-31 win.
Along with Bernard, those are the three guys you will most likely see out of the backfield. The guy to watch out for is #8, James Rodgers. He's perfected the fly sweep, and Oregon State usually runs it 2-3 times a game. The Beavers ran it first play against USC, and he ripped off 39 yards when it looked like he would be tackled for a loss. He's short-- but speedy and strong. His brother Jacquizz just committed to Oregon State, and he's a RB, so watch out for him in a few years. Don't know why you needed to know that.
Now that we've got the backs covered, you might want to watch out for Moevao. Word on the street is that he can run better than Canfield, we just haven't seen it yet. He's not going to put up Dennis Dixon numbers on the ground, but it could mean an extra first down or two.
Jake: Tell me a little about the balance of your offense. We saw Rankin put up a stellar performance last week at Stanford, and we know Locker can run. If Oregon State's defense dominates the line of scrimmage, what strategy will the Huskies turn to? What should we look for out of Reese, Russo, Williams and the rest of the receivers?
John: I think Oregon State is going to dominate the line of scrimmage defensively on Saturday. As you well know the Beavers are rated second in the country in rushing defense. Oregon State is going to stack the line of scrimmage and pinch down to take away the run. Your linebackers are very fast and they should be able to contain Locker in most situations just like they handled Stanback last year. The key for Washington will be hitting some early passes to loosen up the Beaver defense. Locker throws a nice long ball and a couple of strikes early can change the way the game is played by both teams. Washington's receivers are very average. They have trouble playing against man defenses, they don't get much separation, and you can count on them to drop plenty of balls on Saturday. Reese is the most explosive, and has the most potential of the group. He caught a 98 yard TD pass against Arizona when the Wildcats were stacking up against the run. Russo doesn't provide many yards after the catch. Williams bobbles everything thrown at him. For Washington to win on Saturday they need to turn in a better game than we have seen up to this point.
John: Can you update me on the health of the OSU offensive line? I hear that there are some key players out for the game on Saturday.
Jake: The Offensive Line returned in it's entirety for this year, but since the beginning of the year, things have gone downhill. Jeremy Perry went down with a broken leg the first game of the season. This week it seems like everyone is playing a different position than they're used to. Part of that reason is because freshman Ryan Pohl got dominated at USC, and we had to make some changes to get him out of the lineup. It's nothing against him, he's just lacking experience at this point. He's also had a sprained ankle bugging him.
Here's the line you are likely to see on Saturday: Jeremy Perry at LG, Adam Speer at RG, Roy Schuening at RT, and Andy Levitre at LT, with Kyle DeVan at C. The changes are Perry for Speer at LG. Speer replaces Schuening at RG, then Schuening moves over to RT for Levitre, and Levitre going to LT. Lots of guys will be playing positions they haven't played before, or at least in a long time. Supposedly, they were still getting the footwork down as of Tuesday.
Jake: Washington's passing defense is statistically a lot better than their rush defense, which benefits the Beavers, a rushing team. With Moevao at the helm, how will the Huskies get in his face? What's the game plan going to be?
John: Well Jake, a lot of people in Seattle are wondering the same thing. Washington's defense isn't very good, it doesn't matter how you attack them, by air, or on the ground, they give up a lot of yards. We play a bend but don't break type of defense which gives receivers quite a bit of cushion, so throwing it out to the sides to see what your receivers can do after the catch is always a good strategy. What Washington should do against OSU is constantly blitz in passing situations. That being said because our D.C. doesn't get it, expect Washington to only blitz around 12% of the game. UW fears Bernard, and for good reason, when healthy he is one of the best backs in the country. UW doesn't want to give up the big run, so expect them to stay home most of the night to contain Bernard.
John: What will OSU do to contain Jake Locker?
Jake: Oregon State hasn't faced a quarterback with the style of Jake Locker, but we should be ready to contain him. Our D-Line has been rotating all year by situations (we have certain linemen for pass rush situations, run situations, etc.) so that shouldn't be a problem. Really, I think the defense will just do their thing. We've got some great linebackers and a great secondary, so I have no worries there. This isn't to say that Jake Locker won't be productive- I'm sure he will. I just expect our defense to keep him under control, and not allow him to dominate the game.
John: Lets finish it off by asking each other who is going to win the game?
Jake: I am not a fan of predicting the score for Beaver games. Obviously I hope the Beavers win and get to bowl eligibility with two games left in the regular season. As for the score though, I'd prefer not to say. I'll let these two teams battle it out in the crappy weather on Saturday night. (I have box seats for this game--haha!)
John: Jake, I really liked it last year when you ran game simulations on your play station, I thought it was a cool feature.
I think it is going to be a tough game dictated by the weather and decided by field goals. I will go along with you and leave it up to the guys on the field to decide who is going to win this one. To be sure in crappy weather the team with the most heart is going to win.
I had fun Jake, let's do it again during basketball season!