Jake, from SBNation's fine Oregon State blog, Building the Dam, was kind enough to sit down with BSD and answer a few questions for us this week. Enjoy.
Ok, so last year Oregon State had the toughest run defense in the nation averaging just 70 yards rushing allowed per game. Last week they gave up 210 yards to Stanford, and 147 of those yards were by a guy coming off of major knee surgery wearing a knee brace. Was this just a fluke, or are Beaver fans concerned this could be a problem that plagues them all season?
Well, the cliche answer to this question is that we had to replace our entire defensive front seven. However, we feel like this year's group has more overall speed, and has the potential to be just as good as last years' group. We didn't see that from them last game, so we're hoping they needed a game to acclimate and develop as a cohesive unit. We'll have safety Al Afalava back this game, which whill help
How much will the return of safety Al Afalava improve the defense this weekend?
Having him back could loosen up the defense. Our new linebackers will likely take more risks if they know that one of the conference's best safeties is behind them. He's great in coverage and is one of the hardest hitters we've seen in awhile. I'm not sure if he's the answer to the defensive woes we experience last week, but he will definitely make an impact.
Last week your passing attempts were almost a 2:1 ratio versus the run attempts. The passing yardage was over four times the rushing yardage (404:86). Would you say that is the kind of split the OSU coaches shoot for or would they like to see a little more balance? And how will they go about achieving that balance?
Um, no. Oregon State takes pride in its running game, and the coaches would probably like to see us excel more on the ground. It's not our style to put up 400 yards in the air, but that's what happened at Stanford. We got a surprise performance from WR Shane Morales that was excellent, and gave us 150 yards that we usually don't have. Sammie Stroughter also had about 150 yards receiving, and the rest made up the final 100. On the ground, we just couldn't get anything going. Our O-Line really needs to step up against the Lions, because we need much better blocking both to help the rushing game, and to give Lyle more time to get the ball downfield-- an area I think the Beavers can really excel.
How do Beaver fans feel about their situation at quarterback? Lyle Meovao had 400 yards passing and three touchdowns, but he also gave up a few turnovers.
We're happy with Moevao-- he only had one noticible bad decision against Stanford, and that was an interception thrown to one of the conference's best safties. He's the best leader we have at the quarterback positions, and he makes good decisions for the most part. We're much more concerned with the offensive line and the running backs.
The Beavers have to fly across the country and ride a bus two hours up into the mountains to get to Penn State. They will have 107,000 fans intent on disrupting everything they try to do. There is a possibility the remnants of hurricane Hanna may be passing over Pennsylvania that day mixing driving rain with 30 mph winds. Can things get any worse for the Beavers?
If you think back to the last time the Beavers were in a situation like this-- 2004 at LSU-- you'll notice that the Beavs fared well despite the tough situation. The Beavers didn't pull of the win in that game, but it was much closer then all of us expected. There was also a rain storm before that game, and us Oregonians live for the rain. Weather shouldn't be a problem unless we're dealing with lots of heat (a la Stanford last week), although wind could make things interesting.
Thanks again to Jake from Building the Dam.