12.Oct.2011 BYU @ OREGON STATE (pre-game)
Oregon State is riding the high of their first victory, but I can't shake the nagging feeling that this process will be more "one step forward, two steps back" than full steam ahead.
Into town comes BYU. In many respects this is the perfect opponent for this week.
- They are better than Arizona.
- They're not as good as Arizona State.
Considering the Beavers played ASU tough and beat Arizona, BYU is in my opinion the perfect incremental test.
Unfortunately, I don't think they win the game. The reasons are several:
- BYU players are "more mature." This is a euphemism. Due to missions, BYU players are all 25+ years old. Normally, this might not be a big deal, but considering how many underdeveloped freshman are playing for the Beavs I think it's huge.
- BYU's passing attack is precise and methodical. The Beavers do not perform well versus tacticians.
- Bronco Mendenhall is a perfectionist and strong motivator. His team will be ready from the opening kickoff.
- Riley Nelson, the Cougar's new QB, is mobile. Mark Banker has not shown the ability to slow mobile QBs.
- BYU runs a 3-4 defense with three 300lb+ down linemen. Sean Mannion is going to see LB and DB blitzes for the first time. He has been turnover prone versus the more standard 4-3 defense, so it leads one to reason this might not turn out well. The LBs will be free to make plays in the run game, too.
The only clear advantage the Beavers have is their WRs versus the Cougar's DBs, but that will be marginalized if they're forced into a one-dimensional game.
In short, I really want to pick the Beavers in this game. I'm 80% on the year, with my only incorrect pick being Sacramento State. If I'm 67% on the year come Saturday afternoon I'll be a happy man. However, I just don't see it. I view Bronco Mendenhall as the better coach. Mike Riley & Co. have a ton to prove. Until they do it on the field, I'm not giving them the benefit of the doubt in these close match ups.