22.Sep.2010 Analysis: Oregon State @ Boise State
Unlike Louisville, I've actually seen Boise State play, so my opinion on this game should be more educated. What follows are observations from games I've seen.
a. Boise State plays their offensive game in a 12 x 53 (width) yard box. That is, the quarterback will rarely throw the ball deeper than 12 yards. Their pass plays rely on yards after the catch, throws to the first-down markers but not beyond, etc. Slants, hitches, and improvised pass routes make for a lot of their yards. When they work the field horizontally, it's usually short passes in the flat or screens, not deep outs, etc. Precision is their best weapon.
The Beavers should encourage Moore the beat them with the deep pass by stacking the box. It's Moore's lone weakness, so if he beats them in that manner, tip your cap.
b. Peterson likes to loosen the defense by pounding Doug Martin. Then, when the opponent has had enough contact, he hits them with the faster backs. Sometimes they do it the other way around, but either way, Martin is the key to the running game, as he is the player who seems to convert key downs and break the opponent's will.
Two things are needed in order to slow down Doug Martin.
(1) Physical mass
(2) Gang tackling
The benefit of playing man coverage with corners is it frees up a safety. The Beavers should use this safety to roam freely and swarm to the ball–gang tackling. The Beavers also need mass (i.e. Castro and his 320lbs at DT rather than Olander). They should have separate defensive packages for when Martin is in the game versus Avery. When Avery is in there, put speed on the field.
c. Boise State encourages cut backs lanes, broken plays, etc.
They'll purposely load one side of the formation, only to have Avery cut back to the weak side and rip off a big run. When they play straight up, they're much less effective. It's almost a variant of the spread in that they're getting their fastest player in space with a one on one assignment.
It's vital that Miller and Henry maintain inside contain. They can't blow past Moore and let him out on the edge where he can buy time and improvise. That's how Boise hit their big plays with the wideouts. In the run game, have the 8th man in the box cheat toward the cut back lane, and hope Wilson and Roberson are good enough to defend the strong side. The defense needs to think in terms of making the 12 x 53 box in which Boise plays even smaller. If you give these guys an inch, they'll take a yard.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos like to mix things up depending on down and distance. They'll use everything from six defensive backs to the standard 4-3. I'm nervous about Ryan Katz in this game. Does he continue to show poise and avoid mistakes? If ever there's an opponent that can scheme a young QB into a dreadful game it's this one. That being said, the one advantage the Beavers have is in the skill that cannot be taught: speed. James Rodgers and Markus Wheaton can do severe damage in this game, as they are faster than any Bronco. I don't see Quiz finding running room–figure on 65 yards, max. That's a shame, too, since it would behoove the Beavs to control the clock and keep the defense off the field. However, OSU's offensive line has been man-handled when run blocking, and Boise State takes tremendous pride in stopping the run. It's a bad formula.
Prediction: This is going to sound strange, and perhaps flat out contrarian, but I don't see a blowout. Let me outline some reasons why.
- By painting the practice field blue, the Beavers' athletic department has shown how seriously they're taking this game. Additionally, in Riley's press conferences he has astutely noted and articulated Boise's strengths, suggesting to me that he's cognizant of the opponent's tendencies, and therefore at the least will be able to slow them.
- The entire state of Oregon will be rooting for the Beavers. I don't think you can underestimate the fact that Beavers and Ducks are on the same page for this one. You'll likely even see Duck fans at this game cheering the Beavs. In solidarity there is strength.
- The entire nation, for the most part, will be rooting for the Beavers. Outside of Idaho, I'd wager 90% of the nation has disrespect for the Bronco's schedule. I can't imagine anyone believes they deserve a shot in the title game, and a loss on Saturday will ensure they lose that opportunity.
- The Beavers usually come alive week 3 or 4, and last week when I expected the defense to be worn out from being on the field all game, they stepped up and sealed the victory. Am I ready to declare they're good? No, but I have to believe the stand last week will boost confidence on Saturday. A key point is how Tony Wilson came on late in that game. Has the light turned on for this young linebacker? It was flickering.
- Boise State is a short pass, power run team. No matchup is great for the Beavers' defense right now, but is one the better options.
Those are the reasons I think the game will be relatively close. Do I think the Beavers win? Well, let me put it this way: it would surprise me, but it wouldn't shock me. Since I believe in writing the truth, it's time to admit the aura, preparation, and mindset of the team feels better this week. But, at the end of the day, Kellen Moore will be too efficient, Doug Martin too strong, Jeremy Avery and Austin Pettis too hungry, and the Bronco defense too stout. Boise wins, but not in blowout fashion.