In our continuing series of "spying" on our opposition we give you the latest Opposition Q&A with our friends from Building the Dam – the Oregon State blog on SB Nation. Enjoy and as always…. ON WISCONSIN!
Before we get into it, make sure to check out my answers to their questions.
MTB: Bielema stated today that they weren't exchanging any film from Saturday with Oregon State, Fair or unfair?
Moot point. There's nothing on the Beavers to exchange, and the Badgers game was on tv, so we had a good look at them.
It could be a disadvantage for Wisconsin, though, as Oregon St. has a new defensive backfield coach, and a look at possibly changed coverages from last year could be useful.
Also, head coach Mike Riley will take over play calling this year, and while he hasn't changed the play book, he might well mix up the calls compared to last year, since that was a significant part of the problem.
more after the jump….
MTB: The reason why no film was exchanged was because OSU's game against Nicholls State was canceled because of the hurricane. Could the extra time to prep for Wisconsin be a good thing, or do you say just getting out and playing four quarters of a real game would've been more beneficial?
I think its a decided disadvantage for Oregon St. This team has needed to see someone else for a couple of weeks. Also, there's always glitches in week 1, and Wisconsin has had their, and know what they most need to work on, while Oregon St. doesn't.
MTB: We saw Sean Mannion last year in Camp Randall and it wasn't pretty, but overall he completed nearly 65% of his passes and had good yardage, but he threw more INT's than TD's. What do attribute that to and what are you expectations from him this season?
BTD: Mannion is not a mobile quarterback, a bad combination with an offensive line that had several injuries to contend with. The problems were compounded when the then freshman faced diverse defenses that gave him a lot to think about. He just appeared overwhelmed at times.
At least in practice, his accuracy appears to be much better; there have been fewer throws that were off-target, but still caught by receivers who had to make catches that were more spectacular than they should have needed to be.
The real change that has to happen, though, is to do a better job of reading and quickly and correctly reacting to what the defense shows him. A year's experience and maturity should help, but its one of the key things everyone will be watching closely.
MTB: Some have Mike Riley squarely on the hot seat entering 2012. First off, do you agree? Secondly, what does he need to do to keep his job if it is in jeopardy?
BTD: There are an increasing number of people who are getting impatient, but Coach Riley still has the solid support of the Athletic Director and the University President, the two people who really matter. And they have to pay him through 2019, making a change an expensive proposition.
But while ticket sales have stayed pretty good, thanks to an attractive schedule, donations are way, way down, and if that continues, things could change rather quickly.
A .500 season and a bowl game would go a long ways, but anything less than that and at a minimum, some of Riley's top assistants are going to be in very hot water, while he personally would probably have one more year to turn things around. At a minimum, he has to have the Beavers play well in every game. They were uncompetitive in several games last season, mostly on the road. A lot of inexperienced players aren't anymore, so being unprepared isn't going to be acceptable.
MTB: Mannion could well be a star for this team, but he can't be the only one producing for the Beavers offense. OSU couldn't run the ball to save their lives, what's up with the running game heading into the Beavers first game?
BTD: Redshirt freshman Storm Woods won the starting job, and being a more powerful runner between the tackles than the other backs on the roster had a lot to do with it. Tackle Michael Philipp returns after missing all of last season as well. Both of those developments should help.
That said, in the scrimmages in camp, the Beavers still threw far more often than they ran the ball, and got much more production out of their passing game. The 2 best players on the offense are WRs Markus Wheaton and Brandin Cooks, so that's not that surprising.
But how the running game looks is the single biggest thing everyone wants to see, and not having a game last weekend only delayed getting an answer to that question.
MTB: For those of us in Badger nation that will be attending the game, what is tailgating like and what are must see places and establishments to visit?
BTD: Tailgating is a big enough part of the OSU gameday experience that a lot of fans still showed up last Saturday to tailgate, with nothing but a practice to watch.
Inadequate parking at the stadium means its scattered all over campus and surrounding neighborhoods, but walk around and you can find all the familiar fun and games, and all manner of food and drink.
Corvallis is a small town, and not a party town at its best; that's mostly left to Eugene, and those quackers down the road.
The college is between terms, and most of the students won't be in town, so Friday night and Saturday night will be a lot quieter than would be the case had this game been played 2 weeks later.
The good thing about being a small town is there is a variety of types of restaurants and bars in and near the downtown, which is immediately adjacent to campus, so Badger fans of any taste and budget should have no trouble finding a place that suits them.
There are fans that spend far more on their restaurant and bar bills than they do on the game, but its not necessary if you don't want to.
Big River Restaurant and Flat Tail Brewing Sports Bar are good bets, and then there is the Peacock Tavern, which is diametrically opposite, but also a fixture known valley-wide for 40 years or so.