It's the last best chance for the 2015 Colorado Buffaloes to win a conference game. For real this time, it's gets a lot harder from here. Will the Buffs be able to get it done on the road?
To find out more about the Beavers we sat down with the Oregon State blog, Building the Dam. You can see our answers to his questions here.
CU’s defense has not done well against running quarterbacks, and Seth Collins is one of the best in the conference. Is he a legit dual-threat quarterback and how can the Buffs stop him?
Andy: At this point, he’s more of a running threat than a passing threat. He can and has hit the big completion for the big touchdown, usually to Jordan Villamin, but he’s also hovering around a 50% completion rate, and that won’t win in this conference, by a substantial margin.
Heming Collins in isn’t easy, because he’s as likely to sprint up the middle as to try and get outside. Generally, though, outside in pressure is best if you have good speed rushers, as it can at least keep him in traffic if he runs, and not in open space, and collapse the pocket from the edges if he opts to pass.
RVM (Robert): Okay, how much scouting should I give you all?!? Seriously what I would say is that let him run with the idea of keeping him enough in check that even if he goes for 125 yards it means that the other facets of the game are probably not clicking for Oregon State. At this point in the season, as in seen enough of the offense, I believe that if you have Collins running a lot then the opposing defense is probably doing something right, and that means the RBs are not getting enough touches and running well and that the passing game is probably not working for the Beavs. So yes as Andy has noted so far he is not, nor is the OSU offense a true dual-threat QB system.
How is Gary Andersen doing in his first year and how long do you think it will take him to truly retool the Beavers?
Andy: I think even he is finding this more challenging than he and others may have initially expected, and the talent on hand is the biggest issue. Things that might have been expected to work haven’t worked so well. Coach Andersen has shown that he will try a variety of things, and doesn’t stay locked into anything, but that in turn does inject even more changes into a program that’s already had to adapt to almost total change of everything about the program.
As such, its looking like a 3-4 year rebuild, because it will take recruiting to really fix some of the problems. The good news is Andersen and this staff have gotten some recruits that at least on paper look really good, and some are of the type (read 4-star) that Oregon State just hasn’t been able to attract.
RVM: Wow this is the $64,000 question for me right now. Hmm, how to put this, okay well as Andy has put it it all has been more "challenging" than expected. We are in a place where we have to be patient as fans, and truly the new staff needs to be too, but at the same time things have gone so far backwards at times it has been hard to be 100% patient. Personally I am at the stage now where I think it is hard to tell if things are a challenge because of change and needing to get those more athletic recruit fits into the new system or are there some fundamental issues going on here that will not be fixed with any type of recruit? Tough situation to come into, but Andersen and his group sure seemed fired up to leave Madison and get here. Sure wish we were seeing a bit more competitive play in conference games (more of the first half versus Stanford combined with the second half against WSU). Don't know, time will tell, and this game against Colorado will be another test.
Kilane Sitake surprised people with his move to Oregon State from Utah. How has he done leading the defense?
Andy: Through the first month of the season, things looked promising, as a defense that had the greater portion of the overhaul seemed ahead of schedule. Now that the Pac-12 portion of the schedule has begun, the defense has struggled, comparatively, with both assignment errors by more than a few of the players, and strategic errors in game planning both issues.
That regression appears to have taken Sitake a bit by surprise, and it certainly has much of Beaver Nation, as everyone knows the defense can play better, because they have already seen them do so. Talent and experience gaps account for some of that, but not all of it.
Time will tell, and recent events at Utah have raised questions about how much of Sitake’s success there was him, and how much was Kyle Whittingham. But similar to Andersen, we have seen that Sitake is open to trying different things, both schematically and personnel-wise, and if Oregon State can land a couple of strong recruiting classes, his approach could begin to work.
RVM: Ah, another time will tell comment! I agree. Honestly I do not know if I have much to add here from Andy's analysis. Let's get back to this Colorado game and the Beavs are going to be up against a pretty decent, sneaky decent offense. Can they respond? Can they make adjustments from the WSU game where Falk ripped them up in the first half? Will they bring more of that second half play against WSU to this game on defense? Can they adjust during this Colorado game against a different team? This will be the most favorable match up left this season for the defense, well maybe Washington's offense will be a good one too for the Huskies on that side of the ball are pretty flat. We will be watching for some coaching improvement in this game that the Beavs are still favored in.
Who is the player to watch on offense and defense? Who may be underrated nationally that CU fans should watch out for?
Andy: You know about Collins, and since he’s the Beavers’ leading rusher as well as the quarterback, he’s an obvious pick. Beyond that, offensively, its 6’4", 235 lb. WR Jordan Villamin. I mentioned Villamin’s big play catches above, and his combination of TE size, excellent reach, and good speed make him a very challenging match-up for most corners.
The defense is anchored by LB Romel Mangeo, who leads the Beavers in both tackles and sacks, and had his second interception of the season against Washington State, making him the team leader in that category too. (The fact that 2 interceptions halfway through the season makes anyone the team leader tells you a lot about the struggles of the Oregon State defense.)
RVM: On offense I am going with Victor Bolden again this week. He led the receivers last week and had a 100 yard kick-off return, and still not really has found his stride this year but is slowly improving. He could become a leader on the field too.
On defense as per Andy's story about the secondary I am going with Cyril Noland-Lewis and Devin Chappell, for I think both have been making some nice steps forward at times, but also have been challenged a lot this season. Let's see if the possible reassignment of position and duties (or even if not reassigned) can spark some of their potential here knowing they may not have the veteran Larry Scott to fall back on.
How does the game in Corvallis end?
Andy: With the team singing to what’s left of the home crowd, since they always sing the fight song post-game, no matter the outcome. Considering that it will be late at night, there might not be much left of that home crowd, especially if the Buffs have a big night. Even in their wins, Oregon State has yet to play a complete game, and the outcome has not been in doubt down the stretch in any game, one way or the other, giving many Beaver fans plenty of incentive to try to beat the traffic. That said, Colorado probably matches up with the Beavers more closely than any team Oregon State has played this season, and so this game could well go down to the wire, as it did last season in Boulder. If Shay Fields were healthy, I’d be really concerned about Oregon State being able to keep the game close. Without him, I do think this game might be competitive, or I at least hope so. After the last 10 quarters though, the Beavers will have to show me first, and so I’m inclined to lean toward the Buffs breaking their conference losing streak, with a critical Oregon State 3 and out being a factor in that.
RVM: Well this is seemingly on paper a winnable game for Oregon State. Beavs going to need to score some points AND they need to not let things get away in the first half. If they let things get away in the first half they will lose the crowd. The fans will be fired up with it being the first home game in weeks, there should be some good energy to start with and OSU needs to feed on that. Could be a good football game in the end, no matter who wins. To use the cliché here and this one looks to be anyone's game, both teams have the potential to win or lose this one.
Three Key Stats
All three stats are coming from the Five Factors, or what Bill Connelly thinks are the five most important things for victory. And all three are favorable towards the Buffs. Optimism!
1. Explosiveness- OSU Offense- 1.09, ranked 124th. Colorado Defense- 1.25, ranked 68th.
2. Turnover Luck (Actual turnovers created in relation to expected turnovers)- OSU- +2.65 PPG. CU- -.94 PPG
3. Finishing Drives- OSU Defense- 5.74 pits. Per trip in 40, ranked 124th. CU Offense- 4.7, ranked 77th.
As bad as CU has been in some aspects in 2015, Oregon State has been worse. On offense, they can't pass very well, and the explosiveness has suffered as a result. Their rushing attack should worry Buff fans, but they are not great at game-breaking plays, and CU isn't too bad at preventing them. Dave Baldwin, of Colorado State fame, has a pretty conservative attack as it is, and given their passing struggles, expect a lot of runs on 1st and 2nd down, and probably third, too.
As for the turnover luck, this also bodes well if you believe in the law of averages. Oregon State has had luck bounce their way, according to the stats, and the Buffs have been leaving points on the field. At some point, both teams' luck has to reverse, and CU should hope that point is this week. This was interesting to me, as Jim Leavitt's D has been manufacturing turnovers out of nowhere (see: Arizona game). Oregon State doesn't strike me as overly well at holding on to the ball, and turnovers could very well be the difference in this game.
Last but not least, another favorable matchup for CU. The Beavers seemingly give up a touchdown almost every time a team passes midfield against them. This is great news for the Buffs, as even when they started the drive at midfield against 'Zona, they couldn't get 10 yards, let alone a touchdown. Lindgren will need to call a good game, but it seems like OSU is a "bend and break" defense this year.