Q&A: Las Vegas Bowl with Oregon State's Blogger

Our good friend over at Building the Damn, Oregon State's SB Nation blog, has answered five questions from Vanquish The Foe about tonight's matchup...

1 - What will be the Beavers' general game plan for stopping Max Hall, Harvey Unga and BYU's versatile offense?

For one, the Beavers are going to have to switch things up in the secondary due to the loss of Tim Clark to a broken leg in the Civil War. Brandon Hardin will get the start at that cornerback spot, but it also means that the secondary is now even more thin than it was before the Clark injury. Patrick Henderson, who is a veteran but lacks size, will probably see more plays, and true freshman Jordan Poyer, one of the best athletes on the team, will be utilized as a backup corner, moving over from his normal reserve safety spot. 

The fact that the secondary is depleted means that it's up to the defensive line to make life difficult for Max Hall. He's had no problems getting the ball into the end zone all year, and Steven Paea and the line will have to make sure that he at least he doesn't have all the time in the world to find Pitta, Jacobsen, Ashworth, and others downfield. The pass rush has been improving as the year has gone on, but this may be their most important opportunity to prove themselves in the final game of the season. 

2 - What should Bronco Mendenhall and the Cougars be the most concerned about? (The Rodgers brothers? OSU's pass rush? Etc.)

 

The offense is dynamic, and can beat you in many ways. Sean Canfield is right up their with Max Hall as one of the best quarterbacks in the nation, and he's done it by being accurate and making big plays. WR Damola Adeniji has been a big surprise this season and will do his best to keep the BYU defense honest as they look to key on the Rodgers brothers. Now, James and Jacquizz are probably the ones that Mendenhall and company are most worried about... they're playmakers. It's a good sign whenever Quizz and break into the second level with regularity, and as soon as safeties start keying on Quizz, James becomes a even bigger threat out of his flanker spot. And let's not forget about Joe Halahuni, who has become a big threat at the tight end position. 


3 - Who is the one Oregon State player VTF isn't necessarily familiar with and should be aware of going into the bowl game?

 

Damola Adeniji isn't a guy who is putting up huge numbers on the stat sheet, but his contributions to the offense and his rise to prominence make him arguably the most important player on the offense. After Darrell Catchings was injured early in the season, Damola has made Beaver Nation forget about what we lost in Darrell by providing similar production. He never expected to play football again after graduating from West Salem high school, but now he's playing in his final college game as a starting wideout for the Beavers. He's improved his route running and blocking, and is a big reason why this offense is so dynamic. 


4 - What caused the Beavers to struggle early in the season - specifically against a disappointing UNLV team and perhaps against Arizona in Corvallis?

 

Don't forget that Beavers also struggled against Cincinnati, a team that finds themselves playing in a BCS game now but looked beatable on September 19 in Corvallis. What we repeatedly keep seeing out of these Mike Riley coached teams is these early season slow starts. The Beavers tried to buck the trend this year with a more manageable pre-season schedule, but still emerged from the month of September with a 2-2 record. The slow start is not something we saw for the first time this season, trust me. It's something we're starting to get used to. 


5 - What is the general perspective at BTD on the MWC's recent success toward gaining future respectability from the BCS?

 

I think it's games like tonight's that OSU fans and Pac-10 fans in general judge the Mountain West on. If the top tier MWC teams (TCU, BYU, Utah, etc.) can continue to do damage in BCS bowls and win games against the automatic-qualifying conferences, they'll continue to get respect. And obviously, the MWC is 7-3 against such teams since 2004, so they're well on their way. But Mike Riley and his team, as well as Beaver Nation in general do have a great deal of respect for this BYU team we'll be playing tonight. It'll be a great game, that's for sure. It's also interesting to note that Oregon State's next two games-- tonight's, and the opener next year-- will be against the best two teams out of the MWC, BYU and TCU. We'll see how that goes.

 


Bonus Question - Any sense of pride at OSU knowing that Bronco Mendenhall is an alum and has had overwhelming success in Provo?

Sure, it's always nice to see OSU grads go on to do great things whether it be as coaches or players in the professional ranks. Mendenhall is a great coach and has turned BYU around, much like Riley has done at Oregon State-- and I'm sure there's nothing but respect between coaching staffs.
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