This week USC plays Oregon State in Corvallis. Fellow SBN Blogger Jake from Building the Dam, a great OSU Blog, was kind enough to take some time to answer a few questions about this weeks game. I will return the favor and the answers to my questions will be up on BTD tomorrow.
1- The Beavers, while 4-3 (2-2), have had some tough times this season. How would you rate the progress of Coach Riley? Is he on the hot seat?
Riley is definitely on the hot seat, no doubt. Riley did start to turn the program around when he came in his first tenure in 1997, then Erickson took over in '99, went 11-1 in 2001, and left for the pros after the 2002 season. Riley has done a lot for our program, but, it's just not headed in the right direction now. We developed the team, and we can't seem to take advantage.
2- It looks like you guys have been bit bug the injury bug too. With Yvenson Bernard possibly out for Saturdays game due to an ankle injury, who steps up to fill his shoes?
First off, Bernard is a tough guy. He's a grind-it-out type of back, and he has a knack for breaking tackles and gaining a extra yard or two. This causes him to take more hits. To be honest with you, I doubt the guy practices that much in order to rest up for games. But he is questionable for this week's game.
If he can't go, we're going to see a lot of junior Clinton Polk and sophomore Patrick Fuller. Polk is an exciting player, and I like what I've seen from him. He would be the go-to guy in my opinion.
3- The Beaver Defense Ranks 3rd in the Pac 10 behind UCLA and USC respectively in yards allowed. What's the key to Oregon St.'s success on defense?
Defense has been the strong point of our team this year. Most games, when the offense is having a bad day, the defense shows up to play. When the offense is having a good day, the defense still shows up to play. Our weakness is still pass coverage. We allowed Nate Longshore of Cal to throw for 341 yards and four touchdowns. As far as run defense goes, we're having a good year, that is if you forget about the 240 yard, 5 touchdown performance Ian Johnson had against the Beavers in the Boise State game.
4- What has been the biggest surprise of this team this year? What players have really stood out?
As far as the biggest surprise, I'm going to go with WR Sammie Stroughter. We started the season with a large receiving corp with no real separation in skill, but seven games into the season, Sammie is clearly at the top of the depth chart at WR. Also, a lot of Beaver fans have been surprised by freshman quarterback Sean Canfield, but that's another story for another day.
Sabby Piscitelli has stood out this year. As a three-year starter at strong safety, he's the anchor of our defense, and he's always flying to the football. He's the active leader in the Pac-10 for interceptions.
5- What chances do you give OSU to beat USC and how will they do it?
I could rant on this for a while, but at the bottom of it, this is just another game. OSU needs to understand that USC is USC, and the Beavs need to play their brand of football. As Quarterback Matt Moore said: "Regardless of who you are playing, if it's the New England Patriots, it's just another game; you have to look at it like that. If you go in already cutting yourself short, it's not a good start."
This is one of those games where Oregon State needs to play flawless, and needs to wreck havoc on USC. When you're playing teams like Arizona or Stanford, you know that if both teams come out and play 100%, you're going to win. With the OSU/USC match up, if both teams are at the top of their game, USC will probably come away with the win. The Beavers need to find away to take some life out of the Trojans to pull this one out.
I say we start with the band.... :)
Thanks Jake! Good luck on Saturday.