05.Oct.2010 Analysis: Oregon State @ Arizona
Usually I like to wait until Wednesday to do an analysis. It gives me time to read about the teams, players, etc and watch film. Lucky for me, when I came home for lunch today the Arizona/Cal game was on replay, and I pretty much saw all I need to know.
What surprised me is how much trouble Nick Foles has throwing deep passes. For some reason, I thought he could sling it, but most of his passes go to wide receivers in the flat. Arizona loves the yards after catch. Their formula seems to be throw a pass in the flat on 1st down and hope for at least 5 yards. It seems like they did that every play. And thinking back to last year when Foles torched the Beavs, I seem to remember a lot of horizontal passing. They have a lot of "2nd and short" because of it. I'm not sure how I feel about the Beavs defending that type of pass. One thing I know: Foles doesn't take many seven step drops, and that's going to negate the Beavs' new-found pass rush.
The game will be decided by the Beavers defense, and it will come down to making sound, fundamental, one on one tackles in open space, in the flat. Now that Collins is manning half that area, I can feel comfortable if Arizona decides to go there. Starting Doctor as the other OLB would be a wise move. Paea & Co are going to have to do their damage in defending the run game. There won't be any sacks to be had with Arizona's 3 step drops. What you want to see from the front four is penetration and tackles for a loss on run plays. Grigsby is a solid runner, but injuries seemed to have left him less explosive.
On the offensive side of the ball, I'm concerned. Arizona's stats are inflated due to their first two opponents, but watching them versus Cal they can get after a DI offensive line, and Golden is a good corner. It's a precarious combination–Katz probably throws his first career interception this weekend.
Some key points:
- The Wildcats aren't an offensive juggernaut; the Beavers have a leaky defense.
- The Beavers can score; Arizona can play defense.
- The Beavs return game (i.e. special teams) is playing out of their minds' right now.
So, to me this game comes down to (a) the Beavers' defense, specifically in the flat and (b) whether or not the return men can create good field position for the offense. The offense needs a short field.
Oregon State's confidence is riding high right now, which can tilt the scale. However, the Wildcats can match that confidence, and have other intangibles in their favor, such as two weeks preparation and a 4pm kickoff, the hottest part of the day.
I see this contest coming down to the wire. Do not be surprised to see the game go to overtime, or won/lost on a last second field goal or missed extra point. It's a pick 'em game, in my opinion, and I'm begrudgingly giving the edge to the home team.