31.Aug.2010 Analysis: Oregon State vs TCU (@ Arlington )
The first game day of 2010 is finally here, and I think we can all agree on one thing: this is an exciting opener.
Sure, the easy win vs Eastern Washington or whomever was on the schedule prior to TCU would have been a great tune up given the uncertainty surrounding key positions, but this game will challenge the team, harden them for Pac-10 play, and have the added bonus of a nice pay day on the national stage. It's win-win for the Beavers, even if it is clear they are going to lose.
The problem with this game, for the Beavers, is their weaknesses play to TCU's strengths.
For example, TCU is not a great offensive team, but they are efficient. What they do well is run the ball and throw the short pass, specifically screens. Can Paea help there? Certainly. But do you believe TCU isn't aware of him? Therefore, Paea will be relegated to nothing more than a cog. I foresee sweeps and pitches, rather than plunges or dives, aimed to avoid Paea and spring the (TCU) RB into the weak linebacking corp of the Beavers' defense. On 3rd and long, expect screens and draws to counter attack the Beavers tendency to arm-tackle and over pursue. TCU also has solid wide receivers who will move the chains at key times. And finally, Dalton, while not a great QB, is a heady player who will not be phased by pressure, and he'll break the Beavers' back at least once on a 3rd down scramble. The Horned Frogs poise at QB is the glaring advantage.
As for the Beavers, on paper, they should be able to move the ball, but does it translate to the game? That's the million dollar question. We know James Rodgers will get a lot of all purpose yards, but does he get them at the right time? A 50 yard punt return in the 4th quarter when the Beavers are down 20 doesn't do much. Therefore, the Beavers need to execute critical downs. Watch early in the game for:
1. Yards gained on first down, specifically runs by Quizz.
2. 3rd down conversions near the 50 yard line (i.e the different between converting this play and punting is a win versus a loss).
3. Turnovers inside the 50.
4. Settling for FGs early in the game.
These four things are good indicators of how the game will play out, and you'll know in the first quarter.
For the Beavers, the weakness on offense is clearly the quarterback, so expect TCU to blitz and confuse Katz, who has likely never seen a 4-2-5 defense. I expect at least three interceptions from the Beaver QB. Also consider the 4-2-5 defense substitutes a CB for a LB, adding more speed to the edge, which could nullify James Rodgers running fly sweeps. The weakness of this defense is that the safeties and corners are active in the box, so it's possible to get behind them (i.e. play action), but for those things to work the offense has to establish the run. Quiz may have a hard time doing that with Tank Carder manning the middle. From all accounts, the guy is a beast. Advantage: TCU.
So as I said, for me this game is a matchup mismatch. Beaver fans who are optimistic yap that OSU has an all world running back and defensive tackle, both of whom are better talents than anyone TCU puts on the field. True enough, but scheme, matchups, and confidence win or lose games, and TCU has both the coaching advantage and the psychological advantage.
Prediction: My stance is this: I'm not going to emotionally invest in an early season Beaver game versus a DI opponent until they prove they can win this type of game. Right now, this stage is too big for the Beavers. They have tried and tried, with the list of failures growing large: LSU, Fresno State, Louisville, Boise State, Cincinnati, Penn State, Cincinnati, and likely add TCU and Boise State to that list. Since Riley's return, his best early-season OOC road win versus a DI opponent was against UNLV last season. Also noteworthy is that the Beavers are 1-8 all time versus Texas schools when playing in Texas. The one win, versus Baylor, came in 1996. And now I am supposed to believe Mike has suddenly figured it all out? I might be cynical, but I am not dumb.
TCU 45, OSU 17