UNLV a big step up for Beavers

2009-09-07T18:00:00Z UNLV a big step up for BeaversBy Cliff Kirkpatrick, Gazette-Times reporter Corvallis Gazette Times

After taking an easy first step into the season, there's some concern moving on to the next level.

The Oregon State football team travels to Las Vegas on Saturday night for the second game of the season, a showdown with UNLV of the Mountain West Conference.

A season-opening victory over Portland State gave the Beavers confidence, but it came at home game against a team from the lower-level Football Championship Subdivision.

The Rebels (1-0) are a midmajor team on the rise in the Football Bowl Subdivision. They played well in a 38-3 victory over Sacramento State, and were 5-7 last season, one win away from a bowl game.

One of their wins was an overtime victory at Arizona State. That started a six-game losing streak for the Sun Devils.

"We have to be ready to compete because I'm looking at a hornet's nest," coach Mike Riley said. "If you look at their season from a year ago, just a few points could have made the difference in a bowl game. They've been building and pointing toward this time. I expect a really tough game."

Adding to the difficulty is that it's an early-season nonconference road game. The Beavers (1-0) are 0-8 in these kinds of games under Riley since the beginning of the 2003 season.

The only nonconference road win in that time was at Hawaii in 2006, but that was the end of the season when the Beavers play their best football.

And they are nowhere near their peak at this point.

"We still have to get better," receiver James Rodgers said. "We still have mistakes that no one else sees, but we see. We have to correct those and get ready to go."

Starting a season fast is typically a problem for the Beavers, and that's because of these road games. Who they play makes a big difference.

UNLV is not Louisiana State, Penn State or even Boise State. So a win here would keep OSU's momentum going with two home games up next.

Riley plans to prepare for this game just like any other and not add any pressure.

"Oh man, the only difference is just winning," Riley said of this week. "That would be good. We are going to prepare for the game like we do right up until Friday and then it's all about the trip and being ready for the game."

The 8 p.m. kickoff is a slight issue. That's an hour later than the usual late game. The Beavers have to find a way to make use of the long wait before the game.

One thing OSU won't do is a walk-through at Sam Boyd Stadium. Teams frequently do that the day before the game or early in the morning of the game.

It's a way to review the game plan and familiarize players with the venue. Riley has not done that in recent years, even when it's a new stadium to the Beavers such as this one.

"We like the routine of what we do," Riley said. "A lot of times you walk through someplace and there's a problem (with the venue) and we can't get to use the field. So it turned into more of hassle than a benefit."

The Beavers do their walk-throughs at OSU on Friday mornings, have lunch and then begin their trip.

When it comes to the game plan UNLV runs a spread offense, but is more pass oriented than the run-first style seen in spread offenses around the country.

The Rebels are so proficient Riley said he's going to help defensive coordinator Mark Baker review video on them. Riley usually leaves the defensive plan up to Banker while he worries about the offense.

The Beavers contained Portland State's run-and-shoot offense, which is similar to what UNLV will do. They didn't give up a passing touchdown, but allowed 22 completions and 274 passing yards.

And they expect UNLV to be faster than the Vikings.

"They had a really good offense, and racked up a lot of yards on us," linebacker Keaton Kristick said of Portland State. "That's good for us because we are going to play an offense just like that next. We were able to get the kinks out. It's a learning experience and we'll be better this week."

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

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