Traded some questions with the Oregonian beat writer Lindsay Schnell, who covers Oregon State to get a little insight into the program before Saturday's game.
Here are the questions below and the answers.
With Sean Mannion leading the passing offense, the Beavers aren't putting up big numbers on the ground, what is the state of the run game?
The state of the run game, as summarized by OSU head coach Mike Riley: "scary." Known for years as a program that was going to run, run and run some more, the Beavers have leaned heavily on their passing attack lately (it helps when you have Brandin Cooks). The Beavers are having trouble blocking all over the field, and running back Storm Woods is getting stuffed early and often when they hand him the ball. OSU has to figure out how to fix the run game ASAP.
How do you think losing the opener has affected the team?
Players talked all offseason about how they were motivated by last year's loss in the Alamo Bowl, and determined to prove they could play in a BCS bowl. Now, after the opening week debacle, I think they're motivated to prove this isn't going to be like 2011, when they lost to an FCS school (Sacramento State) and never recovered, finishing 3-9. I also think that game opened some eyes about how much the defense has to fix.
The Beavers have several injuries in the linebacking and offensive line areas, could that play a role in Saturday's game?
OSU wasn't deep at those positions to start the year, and losing linebacker Michael Doctor and offensive lineman Roman Sapolu -- likely for the year -- certainly doesn't help. The line was already beat up as a few players recover from nagging injuries and illnesses. The line is revamped and the linebacking corps features several players with limited experience, which should make Saturday interesting. The playcalling won't change much, but OSU defensive coaches have said they've tried to simplify what they're doing because they have to break in so many new players.
What makes Brandin Cooks such a special player?
Speed. Cooks is fast enough to get open against any defensive back, but his acceleration on the catch is what sets him apart. He also has a high football IQ, which allows him to read how the defense is covering him, and adjust accordingly.
The Utes may try to establish a run game first, how good are the Beavers against the run?
The is an easy answer: the Beavers' defense is good at stopping a running back, and not good at stopping a running quarterback. Running backs have only gained a combined 139 yards in OSU's first two games. But Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams ran for 107 by himself, and made the OSU defense look silly. If Travis Wilson takes off toward the end zone, the Beavers could be in trouble
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