We sat down with CV3000 from Building The Dam, SB Nation's Oregon State blog. They asked us some questions too, which will be up by this evening. Enjoy.
1. So you beat USC, huh? How did that feel?
It wasn't as exciting as the last time. Not to me, at least. It was over early. You could just tell that there was no way USC could come back from 21-zip at the half. Everyone in the stadium knew it.
2. Why does OSU always get off to such horrendous starts to the season? Is it the weird school schedule?
No idea. We're the only other team besides USC to have a winning record in the conference in each of the past 3 seasons. And if the Beavers win on Saturday, they will be 2-1 or 3-0 in their most recent games versus every team in the conference (except for UCLA) but we just keep starting out 2-3 for some reason.
Ok, that was just an excuse to brag about our incredible domination, here's three ideas:
A) We usually start off with REALLY good teams on the road, typically far, far away. I don't think it would matter if we played them early or late in most cases. We played LSU the year after they were National Champs, Boise State when they were 13-0 and won the Fiesta Bowl, Louisville when they were a Top 10 team with Petrino, Penn State is ...uh...pretty good this year. Even Cincinnati won 10 games when we went there last year (and is likely to win their conference this year) and I personally think they were better than the Sun Devils team that was 2nd in the Pac-10. At least, they were on the day we played 'em.
It's not like we're losing at home or losing to horrendous teams, but we're also not getting the chance to play, for example, Michigan the week after they lost to a high school team.
B) I don't think the school schedule negatively affects anything, except there's no band at the home games before school starts. So that kind of sucks. This year, we just didn't tackle very well in the first 2 games--I attribute this to not having full-tackle practices during Fall Camp. We took 3 weeks to reliably tackle good football players who were fighting for yards--it's just that the 3 weeks happened in real games.
C) The recurring theme in our early season losses has been an incredibly high number of turnovers. At Stanford, for example, we outgained them by a million yards, but gave them the ball 4 times (same story with ASU, Cincinatti a year ago). A pick six and a safety from throwing the ball out the side of the endzone on a lateral pass (against no pass rush) gave the Cardinal 9 points; we lost by 8, fumbling the ball out the side of the endzone on our last possession. It was a really wild game. The most distressing thing was to watch the clock just keep ticking away in the 2nd half with the unfamiliar clock rules. I don't think the coaches realized how much that would hurt a team's ability to make a comeback.
The other recurring theme is a lack of team identity on offense. Last year, the Beavers tried to rely upon Sean Canfield chucking the ball all over the lot (it took him about 4-5 games before he stopped throwing picks) when they should have just been giving the ball to Yvenson Bernard and keeping the defense honest by running James Rodgers on the flysweep and mixing in some play action bombs. This year, it took us a while to figure out that we just need to feed it to Quizz and mix in some intermediate passes in the first half, then run it outside and add some screen passes in the second half and just kill the clock. Pound the quarterback, stop the run with heavy pressure on defense, and that's pretty much the whole gameplan.
3. Losing to Penn State so badly must have been a little humiliating. Are they a legitimate championship contender?
I turned it off at halftime. Then I turned the TV back on and pretended like I wasn't watching. But, I was watching. And....it hurt my feelings. A lot.
They were on that day. I still feel like we had the wrong game plan for that game and that it could have been very different if we had just run the ball right at them. The running game worked very well, but they didn't even try any running plays until the game was essentially out of reach...uh, in the 2nd quarter. I still don't understand why we didn't do that from the beginning, when they had so many defensive linemen suspended that week. It didn't help that several All Pac-10 defenders were literally bouncing off of their ball carriers, and even their quarterback.
I would say that Penn State was definitely polished and they had a killer instinct that is the difference between a Top 15 and a Top 5 team. That's the best way to say it.
4. Tell us more about Jacquizz Rodgers, that speedy son of a (lawyers!).
You mean, The Orange Jesus? Well, it's gonna get a little misty in here.
Here are the basics for curious Sun Devils fans: Quizz set the career TD record (136) for Texas high school football and was in the Top 25 for high school rushing yardage in the history of the US (over 8,000 yards). His uncle is a Pro Bowl safety for the 49ers; Quizz and his brother, James, would work out together with him in the summer when they were in high school. Quizz is not as fast as James--who ran a 10.33 100 meters in high school, making James one of the fastest players in Pac-10 history--but he is still very fast.
Quizz's speed is not his very best asset, rather it's his change of direction. One step -in any direction- and he's at full speed. Boom! Like that. He's 5'6", 193 pounds, calves literally as wide as your head, and he's just a head hunter killer ninja werewolf robot from the future--broke Brian Cushing's hand, made Kevin Ellison cough up blood, and sprained Rey Mauluga's knee all in the same game.
Quizz is a very smart, fundamentally sound football player. I still haven't noticed him make any mistakes on the field, and he has yet to fumble in nearly 200 touches. Right now, he's 10th in the nation in yards from scrimmage--ahead of Knowshon Moreno and Jahvid Best, just behind Noel Devine-- and I know that he definitely compares himself on a national level, not just the conference level.
If he keeps up his pace, he'll be the first freshman in Pac-10 history to lead the conference in rushing, but he still hasn't busted a big run or scored on a pass reception yet. Scouts say that he's NFL ready, but he definitely has some room to improve. And he will. And I'm already going to miss him in a few years.
It could be worse, he could be at Arizona--they were the only other Pac-10 school to offer him.
5. Enlighten us about the Quarterback situation in Corvallis. Where exactly is Sean Canfield? Isn't he a good player?
He's finally healthy again and ready to fill in if Lyle goes down, but this is Lyle's team and he leads the conference in passing...so.
6. Who is your biggest threat on D? Might as well ask.
As far as actual danger goes, Al Afalava has put a few people in the hospital. That probably counts. I believe that Rudy Carpenter called him the hardest hitting player he has played against at Pac-10 Media Day--and Rudy knows something about getting clobbered.
But, the secret most important player is Stephen Paea. He's a sophomore tackle who has mythical strength--bench-presses over 525(!!) pounds. He's new to football, coming from Tonga and growing up playing rugby. I think the defense has improved this year in direct correlation to him improving and consistently winning his individual matchup on a down by down basis. Here's a great quote: "He didnt look like a JC guy coming in to play D-1 ball, he looked like an NFL guy coming back to play in college,'' said (Victor) Butler. "I told the coaches not only should this guy start, but put him on my side of the ball so he can draw some double-teams and free me up.''
He is so strong that he tore a starting offensive lineman's pec muscle in his first pass rushing drill after he transferred. SCARY.
7. What's the weather like these days? Is Reser a nightmare in November?
Honestly, it's been simply gorgeous. The leaves are Orange, the air is perfectly crisp, and the rainy season hasn't started yet. BUT...it is supposed to be a light rain on Saturday and it will definitely be in the 40s by the 2nd half of the game. I don't think it will be an advantage for either team, since the Beavers haven't had any practices in the rain or cold, except for maybe 2 days last spring. If it's cold or wet enough, I could see it taking the crowd out of the game a little bit.
8. Is there any chance the Sun Devils win on Saturday?
Did you ever see Dumb & Dumber?
I think there's a chance. If anyone is hungry for a win, and wanting to prove something to their local media and their fans--who are definitely dogging on them--it is ASU. I look at the teams you lost to, and I think that a lot of good teams could lose to that group (except for oregon, that was slightly unforgivable). Anything can happen with Carpenter under center--we would know. The wildcard is, I'm sure that Erickson would like to do something memorable, since we spanked him the last time he was here, 38-0.
However, when I left the USC game, I really felt like the team is playing with a lot of pride--especially on defense-- and there was no way that they will let an opposing team win in Reser for the rest of the season. No offense, Pac-10.
9. Are there any injuries that will make a big impact that we are unaware of?
Well, you might want to keep a spleen on ice for Carpenter, just in case.
There's a few guys with their hands in a cast, but I believe that everyone on the team is healthy enough to play.
We are also getting Tavita Thompson back from a year long suspension. He is a nasty, NASTY offensive tackle. I think the team will rally around him and his return this week.
I also think that Sammie Stroughter is due for a big game and why not have it come against the team that bruised his kidney last year?
You're entering a world of pain, Devils. Welcome to Orange Hell.