Want to see some offense? You should get just that in tonight's MAACO Bowl from Las Vegas, which starts at 5PM Pacific on ESPN.
When Oregon State has the ball...
We all know what Oregon's State's offense has the power and potential to do. One of the biggest questions after the Civil War loss and a week or so away from football has to do with how this team will come out of the gate. Oregon State has outscored its opponents 300-102 in the first quarter over the last 52 games, including 265-78 in the last 28. But will they be able to find their rhythm early in this one, and put points on the board?
This will be the first bowl game start for OSU senior QB Sean Canfield, and he hopes to use this game to put an exclamation point on his already stellar season. He has just over 3,100 yards on the year, and has 21 touchdowns to six interceptions. His completion percentage is through the roof at 70%-- he'll shatter Matt Moore's previous record of 60.6% from the 2006 season.
Jacquizz Rodgers, James Rodgers, Joe Halahuni, and Damola Adeniji are the four other big threats on offense. Those four players combined are responsible for 88 percent of the overall offensive production, and have been the reason-- along with Canfield-- that the Beavers are averaging 419 offensive yards per game. The beauty of the Oregon State offense this year is that it keeps defenses off balance-- focus on Quizz, and you'll get hurt downfield, and vice versa.
But perhaps an even bigger concern than coming out of the gate quickly is red zone scoring. I'm confident that Oregon State will be able to move to ball, but will they be able to finish drives with touchdowns, not field goals? It's interesting to note that Justin Kahut and Oregon State rank sixth in the nation in field goals attempted with 27. Essentially, that's 108 points (if you assume a touchdown and extra point) that the Beavers haven't been able to cash in on this season. Divide that number by the 12 games played, and it comes out to nine points per game.
Nine points is probably going to be the difference between a win and a loss in this game, so the Beavers can't afford for drives to stall when the field gets short.
When Brigham Young has the ball...
...the Beavers need to get pressure on Max Hall. Like Canfield, he's efficient, and he's averaging 280 yards per game through the air, which is tops in the Mountain West. The Cougars are a pass first, run second team-- which means the Oregon State secondary could make or break this game for the Beavers.
Tim Clark is out with a broken leg, which means it'll be James Dockery on the left side and sophomore Brandon Hardin on the right. Patrick Henderson will be the backup on both sides, and we'll probably see Jordan Poyer shift over the the cornerback spot if help is needed. Lance Mitchell and Cameron Collins remain the safeties, and we may see a lot of Suaesi Tuimaunei if the Beavers decide to deploy a nickel look.
Hall's favorite target is his glorified tight end, Dennis Pitta. I say that because Pitta only seldom lines up in the trenches as a traditional tight end, and it more often utilized as a slot receiver. He has 184 catches for 1016 yards on the year with seven touchdowns.
McKay Jacbosen is the deep threat. He's averaging 25 yards per catch this season and has four touchdowns. Luke Ashworth, O'Neill Chambers, and Andrew George are all averaging right around 30 yards per game-- Hall likes to spread the ball around.
I said that the Cougars are a pass first type of team, but they have a 1,000 yard rusher of their own in Harvey Unga. He's averaging just above 90 yards per game for the Cougars and has ten touchdowns.
The physical, disciplined offensive line also plays a big part in the success of the BYU offense. Due to the nature of the university, BYU's players will all be about two year older than their Oregon State counterparts, which pays off the most on the lines. There are 45 members of BYU's team who are currently off serving as Missionaries, and 60 of the players currently on the roster have completed a two-year mission.
This figures to be a hard fought, high scoring game in which both offenses have their way with the opposing defense. That being said, the pressure shifts to the two defenses, as the better D will probably win the game.
One thing is for certain: The final score of this game isn't going to be 3-0.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Twitter