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Linebackers Will Be Key In Tucson

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For Oregon State, that's a good thing.

Oregon State linebackers Caleb Saulo, l. 35, and Rommel Mangeo, r, 8, have been solid anchors for the Beaver defense this season.
Oregon State linebackers Caleb Saulo, l. 35, and Rommel Mangeo, r, 8, have been solid anchors for the Beaver defense this season.
(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Oregon State has an extra week to get ready for their trip to Tucson, whereas Arizona must take their turn at absorbing an evening of pounding by Stanford this Saturday night. But we can already look ahead to the battle in the tortilla tossing kingdom, where linebacker play will be key.

That's generally one of the keys in any game involving Rich Roodriguez's Arizona teams, due to both his preferred spread offensive system and his 3-3-5 defense, though against UCLA, in order to try to slow down Paul Perkins and the Bruin rushing attack, the 'Cats did use a fair amount of 3-4-4.

Josh Rosen, the Bruins' freshman quarterback, cut up that formation pretty well, but whether the Beavers' Seth Collins will be able to as well is an unknown.

We already do know that Arizona's Scooby Wright will miss the game. Wright, who returned to action against UCLA after missing 2+ games with a torn meniscus in his knee suffered in the 'Cats season opener, promptly sprained his foot early on against the Bruins, and Rodriguez has ruled Wright out for several weeks.

When Arizona has the ball, whether quarterback Anu Solomon will be back or not is also unknown. Soliomon is day-to-day after suffering a concussion when he hit his head on the thigh of a UCLA defender in the second quarter. By the time kickoff comes in Tucson, Solomon could well be back, regardless of his availability for this week, but then again, should he play against Stanford, concussions are an aggravateable injury.

In Solomon's absence, the 'Cats turn to Jerrard Randall, who similar to Solomon will run a lot, but dis-similar, is a much more imposing physical threat than the relatively diminutive Solomon.

Regardless of which quarterback they face though, Oregon State is well positioned, with their combination of inside linebackers Rommel Mangeo and Caleb Saulo.

Both are emerging in their junior seasons, with Mangeo leading the Beavers in tackles, with 36, 24 of which have been unassisted, also most on the squad. Saulo is second in both categories, with 32 tackles, 18 unassisted.

Both have already figured prominently in turnovers as well.

Both have interceptions, including one Saulo took 41 yards to the house against San Jose State. Both have also forced fumbles, and Mangeo also has a fumble recovery.

Success won't be easy to come by in the daytime in the desert, but Oregon State at least is in relatively good shape in one of the key battles.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com