Monday, December 29, 2014
Oregon State offense vs. Pittsburgh defense
Freshman RB Jacquizz Rodgers is the key to Oregon State's offensive success. He is tiny but tough and he can carry a heavy load. The youngster runs behind an experienced offensive line that includes three seniors, one junior and one sophomore. The Beavers will look to grind it out on the ground versus a Pittsburgh defense that has shown some vulnerability defending the run. The Panthers allowed only 10 points to Connecticut in their last outing but coordinator Phil Bennett must be concerned about the 186 rushing yards surrendered to Huskies RB Donald Brown. Granted, Brown is the nation's leading rusher and he carried the ball 34 times on the afternoon, but the Panthers cannot rely on Beavers QB Lyle Moevao to gift wrap five interceptions like the Connecticut quarterbacks did in that contest. The biggest challenge is for the Pitt defenders -- especially big MLB Scott McKillop -- to stay low and wrap Rodgers up in space. He's very difficult to tackle because of his pint-sized frame, shiftiness and center of gravity. Moevao is the wild card for Oregon State. On the positive side he is athletic with a quick release. He is capable of running some option and he's also a threat when rolling out of the pocket and throwing on the run. Moevao is 10-4 as a starter, which speaks to his leadership and mental toughness. But in order to improve to 11-4, Moevao must limit his mistakes against Pittsburgh. A big part of limiting Moevao's errors is making sure he's protected well. The matchup between senior LOT Andy Levitre, who has emerged as one of the nation's top offensive linemen this year, and Pittsburgh's talented sophomore DEs Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard should be a good one. Romeus and Sheard have 5.5 sacks apiece and they will flip-flop from left to right on occasion. Levitre can handle either one-on-one, but the other end is capable of causing problems for right tackle Tavita Thompson.
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