Q&A with Building The Dam

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Enlisting Oregon State bloggers for help previewing this week's matchup against the Beavers.

In preparation for this Saturday's blackout game against Oregon State, we enlisted the help of Andy Wooldridge of the Oregon State blog Building The Dam.

Much thanks to Andy, and we look forward to hosting his Beaver kin this weekend.

Make sure to check out our answers to their questions over at Building The Dam.

I've seen it said that Cody Vaz is the same type of quarterback as Sean Mannion, just shorter? Is this true? What type of quarterback is Cody Vaz?

Vaz is similar to Mannion in style, in part because they have both been taught the same system for multiple years. Vaz is shorter, but more mobile. It doesn't mean Oregon St. will suddenly become a sprint-out style of team, but Vaz can move out of the pocket a little better.

Vaz can throw the deep ball, but might hang it up a little more. On shorter stuff, there's very little mechanical difference, other than Vaz is shorter, but not to the point of being "short". He's 6'1" compared to Mannion being 6'5".

The biggest issue is going to be getting comfortable with game speed, as Vaz hasn't played in a game since 2010.

He's been #2 except during his red-shirt season in 2009, so he's worked with the starters, and on the game plan, vs. as the scout team QB.

What do you expect out of Vaz?

I expect some nervous moments, because of that long layoff, and also because the Cougar defense is really good; good veteran qbs will have some nervous moments against them.

Coach Mike Riley, who also calls the plays, has said nothing will change as far as the game plan, play calls, etc. as Vaz has been in the system for 3 1/2 seasons, and knows and can run all the plays.

Despite what coach says, I expect that there will be an emphasis on shorter, quick stuff, in order to get Vaz comfortable. The real problem is the BYU defense which is #1 in the country against the run, which will probably limit how effective Oregon St. will be at establishing the run. I expect that will force more passing, which would be good if Mannion were there, but will probably produce a turnover at some point that wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Has Oregon State shown any plays by which they can make use of receiver threats Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks if Vaz isn't up to the task of throwing down field?

Wheaton and Cooks have also been very effective at crossing routes and comebacks, as they have the speed to run away from defenders and create targets regardless of which direction they have to run to do it. Both can and do also run the fly sweep as well.

What has been the problem making it so the Beavers rush attack doesn't work well?

Last year, it was injuries. It not only forced backups into action, it forced players into playing out of position. Timing and working together are everything when it comes to the offensive line, and they were never able to get in sync.

This year, the line has been healthy, and as a result, the rushing game, while still not where it needs to be, had been improving each week until Washington St.

At times, the Beaver offense looks very good, and others (like against Wisconsin and Washington State) the offense has struggled. What are the keys for why the offense isn't always consistent?

The one problem the offense has had has been finishing drives, especially in the first half. They actually played better than the score indicated against Wisconsin, and even Arizona, but left points on the field. The problem really manifested itself against Washington St., but the problem seemed to be that the atmosphere before and at the start of the game was so excited that the offense seemed to think the win was going to be almost automatic.

Against better defenses, and now with an inexperienced quarterback, that's the biggest thing that has to change, as there won't be just an endless supply of chances to get touchdowns.

What does the OSU defense do well, and what have you seen that is a weakness?

The OSU defense brings speed from everywhere, and employs multiple formations and personnel packages to do it. The weakness has been the fast and athletic safeties, who none the less are still mostly a very inexperienced group. They have been hurt by big plays a few times, and upon close analysis, these have usually been the result of small but serious mistakes with alignment, angles, and switches, all of which are typical of relatively inexperienced players.

Last year, BYU beat Oregon State 38-28 and gained 500 yards of offense. What has changed between last year and this that has you feeling better about the matchup?

The defense is faster, deeper, healthier, and more experienced. And the coverage schemes in the secondary are much better under new assistant coach Rod Perry, which has also translated to much better run support.

Prior to Mannion getting hurt, and maybe to some degree it still is, the improvement in the offense is a factor too. The defense trusts the offense, and its easier to play d when you aren't always playing from behind. We'll all find out more about this starting Saturday.

Thanks again to Andy for helping us out.

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