OSU football: Saturday's game against Arizona could be a long one

2011-10-04T05:00:00Z 2011-10-06T21:15:34Z OSU football: Saturday's game against Arizona could be a long oneBy CLIFF KIRKPATRICK, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

Sit back and relax, you are going to be there for a while.

Saturday’s Pacific-12 Conference football clash between Oregon State and Arizona in Reser Stadium could top the four-hour mark.

It’s a good thing kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

Arizona is the third-best passing team in the country with 384 yards a game and veteran quarterback Nick Foles is the most productive player in the Pac-12 with 357 yards a game — all passing.

“They can strike fast and are never out it with the way they throw the football,” coach Mike Riley said. “You have to play a complete 60 minutes against them.”

Mix in that Sean Mannion threw a school-record 66 pass attempts in a 35-20 loss to Arizona State on Saturday, and you have makings of an Old West shootout.

“We could be there for a long time,” Riley said. “But I don’t see us throwing 60 times a game.”

Arizona might as Foles averages 47 attempts a game.

The Wildcats (1-4, 0-3), like the Beavers (0-4, 0-2), have been playing catch-up in their games.

Arizona’s running game is nearly the worst in the country with only 75.6 yards a game.

“He’s a pure passer and tough guy who makes plays,” Riley said of Foles. “We are going to have to play great defense and play a lot of balls deep.”

Lack of a running game, or confidence in running the ball, caused the lopsided passing number for the Beavers.

They average 106 rushing yards a game, but a chunk of that came from Malcolm Agnew’s 223 against Sacramento State in the season opener.

Take away Agnew’s one performance and the Beavers have averaged 56 yards in the last three games. That’s not the balance needed for the offense to succeed.

Mannion was sacked three times and threw four interceptions against ASU when the offense became one-dimensional.

Several of the 13 penalties came from holding, offsides and hands to the face by the offensive linemen. They were pushed to the limit pass blocking when the defense knew what was coming.

“Both of those numbers (66 and 13) are surprising,” Riley said. “We don’t want to be either of those teams.”

Offensively, the Beavers go back to practice with an emphasis on running the ball. Controlling the clock will be crucial against the Wildcats.

“We need to be more efficient in our run plays,” Riley said. “We have to block them correctly and finish blocks. There were games with no room like Wisconsin, and now we have to stick with (running plays) more.”

The defense is coming off its best showing of the season. The Beavers showed their potential by forcing  four turnovers, three of them interceptions, and putting steady pressure on the quarterback with four sacks.

Rusty Fernando was a steady pass-rush specialists and defensive ends Scott Crichton and Dylan Wynn were solid on the edge. Jordan Poyer and Anthony Watkins made plays in the secondary.

“It’s still early in the season,” Poyer said. “We have a lot of football left. We felt confident and we’re getting better. We got a lot of takeaways. Our defense came out and we stepped it up. It was little plays that hurt us. As easy as we are 0-4 we could be 3-1.”

The Beavers offense will need to step up against a high-powered Arizona team. OSU is 111th in the country in scoring with 16.8 points a game to Arizona’s 27.4 a game.

The only way to do that is if the defense shows up again and helps.

“We have to match up with what they are doing,” Riley said. “We are both hungry, obviously. We need a win, and it’s an interesting matchup because of the situations we are in.”

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