After a week long lay off the Aztecs get another chance for their first win of 2013. Once again Rocky Long said, "...the players are exited about it, we're playing a very good team, Oregon State. They're very talented. They're big, strong and fast - they've got it all, as their preseason ranking attests to. They didn't play good on defense in their first game, but since that time, they're team that has played well in all aspects, especially throwing and catching the football."
Keys to the game for the Aztecs!
Contain and stop second year Quarterback Sean Mannion. Mannion has been red hot this season and even with injuries to the offensive and line and a week running game. Through three games, Mannion has thrown for 1,237 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception. The Aztecs will need solid coverage of the Beavers leading receiver Brandin Cooks (29 receptions for 498 yards & 7 TD's).
Improve offensive line play. The Aztecs are allowing 3.5 sacks per game and only running for 93 yards a game (ranked 105th in the nation.) Coach Rocky Long said that he is starting both Darrell Green and Terry Poole on the right side today. It will be the third offensive combination in three weeks. The Aztec blocking has been none existent in the first three weeks of the season.
Adam Muema must have a have a good game running the ball. Muema moved well in practice this week and didn't look like he was bothered by a low ankle strain. The Aztecs need him to back to his old self, this year he has only gained 22 yards with 13 carries for 1.7 yards per carry.
Improve pass defense. The Aztec defense has played poorly in their opening two games against a sharp Eastern Illinois hurry up offense and Ohio State's read offense. This week is no different with the Beavers coming into the Q, the Aztecs are weak on the corners and ranked 101st in nationally against the pass. This could be another long day for an inexperienced Aztec secondary.
Lastly, the Aztecs cannot fall behind early. This is an issue with the Beavers explosive passing game behind Sean Mannion and Brandin Cooks. The Aztecs need to start strong and regain their confidence; they have the players, talent and athletic ability to win. They need to establish the run early to take pressure off the quarterback. Let's hope that they bye week helped the Aztecs preparation an allows them to bring more energy into the game. The Aztec practices this week focused on the fundamentals, assignments and playing under control.
Expect Kaehler to start center and for further improvement in the passing game, if Muema is healthily the Aztecs should be able to move the chains. The BIG question will be if the secondary can contain the Beaver air attack, if so they game will be closer than expected if not the Aztecs will be 0-3 after three. The Aztecs haven't much luck against the Pac-12 with 24 wins, 76 losses and 4 ties. All in all another up hill battle for the guys in Red & Black.