We invited a couple of the guys from Building the Dam over to talk about this weekend's game. They were kind enough to make the near cross-country flight into Louisville, and arrived at Card Chronicle Headquarters just in time for us to be able to Skype from separate rooms.
Here's what we talked about...
1. There's been a lot of talk this week about the 2005 game in Louisville from your fans and coaches this week. Any chance you all forget about that between now and kickoff?
That was a painful day for Beaver Nation... I'm sure it will take an OSU win on Saturday for some to forget about it. That 2005 team has been the only OSU team that hasn't gone to a bowl game in the last eight years so that season isn't filled with great memories, but the Louisville loss particularly lingers for coaches especially.
A lot has happened and changed in 5 years, so memories of that day-- ones many Beaver fans tried to push out of mind anyway-- have faded. None of those players are still playing for either side. For the coaches, and some more long term fans, it's a matter of taking care of a piece of unfinished business. If the same staff was in place for the Cardinals, it would be much different.
2. Ryan Katz struggled a bit against TCU. Do you think Mike Riley's going to use the Louisville game as a chance to get him some confidence, or will he be content to have Quizz Rodgers pound the undersized Cards on the ground?
Katz wasn't stellar against TCU, but he gave us no reason to be concerned going forward. Riley showed that he's not holding back Ryan-- he's still expected to make all the throws in the offense. Riley and Offensive Coordinator Danny Langsdorf have made a conscious effort in the last two weeks to work more things into the offense that Oregon St. didn't get to against TCU. Katz will be a continuing evolutionary process for some time. Quizz will still be a very big part of the gameplan, however.
3. What should Louisville fans expect to see from the Beaver defense? How do you think they'll attack the Cardinal spread?
The basic scheme of the Beaver defense won't change a lot compared to the TCU game. Oregon St.'s coaching staff was more concerned with errors in execution details. Press coverage by the corners and gap cancellation by the linebackers are Defensive Coordinator Mark Bankers' cornerstones. Louisville is less of a threat to have the quarterback run out of the spread, simplifying the linebackers reads and the defensive ends' responsibilities. Look for the linebackers to be more aggressive early in plays.
4. Favorite television show?
Gameday. But then we are football nerds, who spend the rest of the week watching game tape and writing stories.
5. Just about everybody knows about the Rodgers brothers, but who are the other guys U of L fans should familiarize themselves with in preparation for this game?
Tight end Joe Halahuni is a guy that Sean Canfield relied on last season, and it's a guy we'd like to see Katz utilize more. The TCU game showed that Ryan needs to work more on his progressions-- which means hitting Jacquizz Rodgers in the flats and his tight end over the middle. He needs to realize that he doesn't need to force the deep ball every time. Once you get Halahuni the ball he's tough to bring down (they call him "the Tank") and his presence in the offense should help balance everything out more.
WR Aaron Nichols has emerged just since during camp as a "do-everything" type of receiver. No one going off of what they saw last year are going to be aware of him, but they will be by Saturday night.
6. Riley said earlier this week that, "this is our Super Bowl." Thoughts on that?
It's a must-win, so yeah, there's validity to that statement. The Beavers really needed to come out of this non-conference stretch with a 2-1 record, and beating TCU would have put OSU in position to do that. Beating Louisville and Boise State in succession is going to be tough to do, but the only way to pull that off is to win on Saturday.
Jacquizz Rodgers has had three consecutive sub-100 yard games, and the Beavers have lost all of them. Historically, whenever 'Quizz has hit a slump, he has responded with a statement game. His personal desire to get things squared away transcends the opposition. And Louisville happens to be who is on the schedule.
7. Care to offer a prediction? Tenderness would be appreciated.
The Beavers still have a lot to prove in this game-- we'll see if progress was made over the bye week. If the offensive line can open up running lanes for Jacquizz and he goes over 100 yards, I think the Beavers have no problems winning this game.
Because Louisville has some potential offensive strengths that could challenge the Oregon St. defense, it won't be a shock if the Cardinal beat the spread of 17 points, especially if the forecast of rainy weather materializes, costing the Beavers a score. Also, Riley is not inclined to run up the score. It will take a defensive takeaway to ensure a comfortable win. Beavers 34, Cardinals 20.