Beavers expect tough game against UCLA

2009-10-26T20:15:00Z Beavers expect tough game against UCLABy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times Reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

A week ago the Oregon State football team prepared for a trip to Los Angeles for a Pacific-10 Conference game as a heavy underdog against Southern California.

The matchups pointed to a blowout. The Beavers weren't intimidated, and pushed the No. 4-ranked Trojans to the limit and had a chance at victory.

OSU faces another L.A. team Saturday, this time down-and-out UCLA in Reser Stadium. Another look at the matchups shows an easy win - this time for the Beavers, who are nine-point favorites.

Coach Mike Riley will use the same approach as last week to prep his team. The goal for the players is not worry about what the opponent has done, just get better and the game will work itself out.

Riley and his staff plan to do all the worrying about how to exploit opponent weakness and counter strengths.

"It's going to be another tough Pac-10 game," Riley said. "We just have to look at them and figure out how to approach the game."

UCLA (3-4, 0-4) is on a four-game losing streak with losses to Stanford, Oregon, California and Arizona.

There have been quality wins. The most impressive was a 19-15 victory at Tennessee. The others were home wins over San Diego State and Kansas State.

"I don't assume anything about their record," Riley said. "They are very capable. They've had some good wins.

"They have it in them. We just have to get ready to play."

The UCLA offense has struggled throughout the season, but significantly more since the Pac-10 games began.

Offensive team statistics rank ninth in the conference or lower. Three quarterbacks have been used and none of them have taken control of the team.

So this might be the perfect team for the Beavers (4-3, 2-2) to work on their defense, and build confidence.

"There was some good defense last game," Riley said. "Now we have to parlay that into the next game, and the improvement from that."

UCLA's defense has been solid, but not overpowering. Safety Rahim Moore is a ball hawk with a conference-leading seven interceptions.

However, it's hard-hitting linebackers Kyle Bosworth and Reggie Carter who are the leaders. Defensive tackle Brian Price disrupts offenses, and leads the Pac-10 in tackles for a loss with 11½.

"I know they have a good defensive front," Riley said. "They've always given us fits defensively."

The special teams have kept the Bruins in games, both kicking and returning. Playing the field position game comes to the forefront this week.

Kai Forbath is the top kicker in the Pac-10 and punter Jeff Locke leads the conference with an average of 46.5 yards.

Terrence Austin averages 27.0 yards on kickoff returns and 10.9 on punt returns. The Beavers typically contain returners well, but gave up a punt return for a touchdown last game.

While the OSU's offense is playing at a high level, special teams comparable to UCLA's and the defense should handle the listless offense, Riley is still predicting a difficult game. And that's not just coach-speak.

The Bruins usually play well in Corvallis. They have won the last three games in Reser Stadium, including one of the biggest OSU late-game meltdowns in recent history when UCLA won 40-14 in 2007.

Both teams have high stakes in the game. They are postseason candidates, but need to start collecting wins.

"You are making a stretch run for your identity, so it's a big game for both teams," Riley said. "We need to go on to (today's) practice with enthusiasm and move on."

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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