UA FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Beavers give Cats new look

Oregon State is first UA opponent in '12 to not use spread offense
2012-09-26T00:00:00Z 2013-09-10T15:23:23Z Arizona football: Beavers give Cats new lookRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 26, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The Arizona Wildcats successfully solved Oklahoma State's spread offense and attempted, with varying degrees of success, to slow down Oregon's "Blur."

This week's opponent will bring an attack that, while less-frantic than the spread-offense stalwarts, is just as tough to stop.

Oregon State's players are pro-style pros.

The Beavers rank second in the Pac-12 with 327.5 passing yards per game, behind Arizona's 329, and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion leads the league in passing. The team has scored three of its four touchdowns through the air and has used passes to gain 26 of its 43 first downs.

Ask opposing coaches what makes Oregon State tough, however, and they mention the team's multiple formations and its ability to create mismatches in the running and play-action game.

It's one of the main reasons the Wildcats' staff is so concerned heading into Saturday's 7 p.m. game at Arizona Stadium. The UA (3-1 overall, 0-1 Pac-12) will be tested by the Beavers' many looks.

The Wildcats' first four opponents all ran versions of the same no-huddle, spread-offense attack. Oregon State's approach can best be described as pro-style. Mannion has been stellar in his second full season as starter, and wide receiver Markus Wheaton (18 catches, 237 yards) is one of the league's top playmakers.

"They self-scout, too, so from week to week, you may see a completely different style," UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. "It's not like they're a two-tight-end, two-back-all-the-time offense, but it's certainly different from what our guys have seen the last few weeks."

The Beavers (2-0, 1-0) are tough to stop because they:

1. Keep teams honest. Coach Mike Riley's team plays mostly from under center, a look that allows it to shift receivers, tight ends and fullbacks from one side of the line to another before the snap. The "formationing" at the line of scrimmage is reminiscent of what Pete Carroll ran at USC and Jim Harbaugh operated while at Stanford. Both eventually took their pro-style playbooks to the NFL, while Riley - now in his second stint at OSU - brought his from the San Diego Chargers.

"There's a couple categories: There's Stanford-style, USC-style - maybe some would call it pro-style - with some two backs and multiple tight ends and a pro-style deal," Riley said. "It's a really big variety of what you see. It makes it very interesting."

Arizona will spend the week watching film with hopes of identifying specific schemes and player groupings. It's a change from last week, when the Wildcats prepared for Oregon's "Blur" offense.

"This week, you have to ID quick, identify what their running strength is and what their passing strength is," Rodriguez said. "They'll do some play-action passing if you're peeking in there."

2. Spread the ball. In two games, Oregon State has used eight rushers and 11 receivers. The Beavers have done so without the benefit of playing in a blowout; both of their wins, against Wisconsin and UCLA, have come in close games.

"It gives us a little more variety and, frankly, it gets more guys involved in the game. We like that part of it," Riley said. "If it's a little curveball for the other team, it helps us. That's really what we try to do with it. We try to use it as a change of pace and a change-up."

UA linebacker Sir Thomas Jackson watched Beavers' game film this week and came away with a few first impressions.

"They're big, they run the ball a lot and they put a lot of different formations out there," Jackson said. "I mean, they have a package with three tight ends."

3. Control the clock. In a league filled with no-huddle offenses, Oregon State has succeeded by bucking the trend. The Beavers lead the Pac-12 in average time of possession, at 35 minutes 6 seconds per game.

The ball control keeps opposing offenses on the sideline, which - in the Pac-12 - might just be the best defense.

 

Up next

• What: Oregon State at Arizona

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona: Comcast (Ch 103); Cox (Ch 75); Dish Network (contact for info); DirecTV, not avail.

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

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