October 18, 2006

Oregon State Preview: Offense

It is safe to say that the offense Arizona will face this weekend will be better than the one the Wildcats went up against last weekend in Stanford.

Oregon State has a balanced offense and was finally able to put some points on the board against Washington after struggling offensively against the good teams that they faced.

The Beavers would like their offense to revolve around running back Yvenson Bernard and although he has not played as well as he did last season, OSU still has still been able to make him its main guy.

He is still a major threat and was able to finally break out as he ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his total for the season to 639 yards and seven touchdowns.

Bernard has been a fantastic weapon for the Beavers and if he is able to run well, it really opens things up for the rest of the offense, specifically quarterback Matt Moore.

Oregon State is 3-0 this season when Bernard rushes for 100-plus yards. In the team's three wins he has averaged 128.3 yards per game, while in the losses he has averaged 84.7. He has also rushed for 100-plus in 9 of the last 14 games.

The main problem with Moore is his accuracy and it really has not changed this season. The surprising thing is that he has only thrown five touchdowns. However, the thing that is not surprising is that he has thrown four interceptions.

A big reason for Moore's inconsistency is the fact that the offensive line has not been doing their job. Thus far, Moore has been sacked 15 times, which is among the upper level in the conference.

Moore has only been averaging 180 yards a game, but finally broke out against Washington. However, it remains to be seen if he can make a habit of having big games and if this season is any indication, the likely answer is no. He has quarterback rating of 143.2 over the last two games, compared to 121.7 over the first four.

Going into the season, there were many questions as to how the Beavers' offense would respond with the loss of star receiver Mike Haas. Luckily for Moore and the Oregon State coaches, Sammie Stroughter has made that transition much smoother than people thought it would be.

He is Moore's top target by a mile and thus far this season has caught 29 passes for 552 yards and has found the endzone once. At six-feet tall, he is a speedy receiver that gives teams fits with the deep ball, as he averages 19 yards per reception.

Stroughter leads the Pac-10 and is ninth in the NCAA for receiving yards per game as he averages 92 yards each outing. He had 223 yards receiving against Washington, which is the most in the Pac-10 this season and the fourth-highest in school history, earning him the conference player of the week award.

Stroughter is also third in the nation for punt return yards per attempt at 18.9 and is one of only three players in the nation with two returns for touchdowns.

Moore's next favorite target is his tight end, Joe Newton. Newton was injured last season, but is still considered to be one of the better tight ends in the country. He is a nightmare for opposing defenses as he uses his 6-foot-7 height to create mismatches up the middle.

He is Moore's favorite target in the redzone, as he has caught three touchdown passes. He is definitely a player that other teams have to focus on and Oregon State likes to take advantage of a more open field because of this.

The third leading receiver on the team is Brandon Powers. Powers is a little bigger than Stroughter, but is definitely less of a deep threat. He is Moore's possession receiver and it is hard to expect him to be able to beat teams deep.

As much criticism as the Arizona offense has received, Oregon State's has not really been that much better. Oregon State's rushing offense averages 123.5 yards a game, only one spot higher than Arizona in the conference.

Also, the Beavers only have two more first downs and are slightly better in third down conversions.

Arizona's 5 Keys to
Defensive Success
1. Pressure Moore:
The Beavers' offensive line is not very impressive and the Wildcats should be able to pressure the mistake-prone quarterback into a few turnovers.
2. Contain Bernard:
The offense really does revolve around him. If he does well, so does the offense, and vice versa. If Arizona contains him the chances of winning increase dramatically.
3. Stop Stroughter:
Moore's favorite target by far, Stroughter is the key to the passing offense. Arizona will likely see what Cason can do one-on-one, and if Arizona can shut him down the team should be able to take more risks.
4. Create turnovers:
Arizona did better against Stanford and looks to continue it this week. Moore does turn the ball over and if Arizona wants to win they should be looking to force Moore into bad situations.
5. No penalties: Teams with potentially explosive offenses do not need help. Oregon State is just that and Arizona should be careful to not bail out the Beavers when they force them into a bad situation.

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