Oregon State Preview

With only one more win, Arizona State will become bowl eligible and all but secure a postseason berth for the third consecutive season. After two blowout losses earlier in the conference schedule, ASU's confidence has picked up some steam as they head into Corvallis, OR to face a Beaver team that has also made an October highlighted most recently with a win over #3 USC at home.

OREGON STATE BEAVERS
2006 Record: 5-3, 3-2 Pac-10
Head Coach: Mike Riley


Last Week: After building a 33-10 lead, Oregon State weathered a second half USC comeback to beat the Trojans, 33-31.

OFFENSE
*Projected Starters

WR Sammie Stroughter, Sr.
WR Brandon Powers, Jr.
LT Adam Koets, Sr.
LG Jeremy Perry, So.
C Kyle DeVan, Jr.
RG Roy Schuening, Jr.
RT Adam Levitre, So.
TE Joe Newton, Sr.
QB Matt Moore, Sr.
TB Clinton Polk, Jr.
WR Anthony Wheat-Brown, Jr.

Although quarterback Matt Moore's touchdown to interception ratio does not jump out on paper, to his credit, the senior gunslinger has limited the turnovers that really hurt the offense last season. Moore has passed for 7 scores and 6 interceptions and is averaging just under 192 passing yards per game. Moore seems to be benefiting most from experience and more time under offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf after learning under two other coordinators in his career.

Tailback Yvenson Bernard is expected back for Saturday's game, which would be an added boost for the Beavers after the junior desperately wanted to play last week, bum ankle and all. Bernard has netted 746 yards on 155 carries this season and added 7 touchdowns for the Beaver offense. Valley product Clinton Polk, in his first season in Corvallis from the JUCO ranks, is averaging 4.2 yards per carry and proved to be serviceable with Bernard's absence last week. Polk has carried the ball 51 times for 212 yards and 1 score this season.

Junior split end Sammie Stroughter has been Moore's top target through the air this year. The receiving corps looked like a group bound for struggles with the departure of Mike Hass and off-field problems with senior Marcel Love, but the junior has fully embraced the opportunity to establish himself this season. Stroughter has caught 42 balls and 2 touchdowns, as well as averaging 96 receiving yards per game. Riley expects senior flanker Ruben Jackson to be available this weekend after injuring his ankle. Jackson has combined with Anthony Wheat-Brown for 3 touchdowns. Tight end Joe Newton is also a top target in the air, leading all pass-catchers with 4 touchdowns. The senior has re-established himself among the conference's top tight ends after a leg injury kept him out of action last season.

DEFENSE
*Projected Starters

DE Joe Lemma, Sr.
DT Ben Siegert, Sr.
DT Curtis Coker, Jr.
DE Jeff Van Orsow, Jr.
SAM Derrick Doggett, Jr.
MIKE Alan Darlin, Jr.
WILL Joey LaRocque, Jr.
SS Sabby Piscitelli, Sr.
FS Bryan Payton, So.
CB Keenan Lewis, So.
CB Brandon Hughes, So.

Despite having a solid junior season, defensive end Jeff Van Orsow may perhaps be most remembered for his game-clinching pass deflection that secured one of the biggest wins in school history last week against the Trojans. Van Orsow has collected 30 stops, 2 sacks, and has forced a pair of fumbles. Dorian Smith has also shown some moxy in a reserve role for the Beavers, leading the defense in sacks with 4.5. Defensive tackle Curtis Coker has been one of the most consistent interior linemen with 13 tackles and 2 sacks.

Middle linebacker Alan Darlin has accrued the most tackles for the Beavers this season with 52. The junior has been active all over the field with 4 sacks, 2 pass break ups, and 3 fumble recoveries. The Beaver linebacking corps of Darlin, Derrick Doggett, and Joey LaRocque are a big reason why Oregon State has continued to defend the run well despite losing a wealth of experience at the position after last season. The Beavers are allowing an average of 95.5 rushing yards per game, second best in the conference.

Anchoring the secondary in his final year in Corvallis is strong safety Sabby Piscitelli. The experienced senior leads all defensive backs with 3 interceptions. Piscitelli has teamed with free safety Bryan Payton for 64 stops and 6 pass break ups. Payton will reunite with brother Jeremy, a safety for Arizona State, this weekend for some friendly family rivalry. Reserve Al Afalava will share snaps with Payton. Cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Brandon Hughes haven't given up as many big plays that plagued them a year ago but are still a work in progress. The two sophomores have a combined 32 tackles and 10 pass break ups. JUCO transfer Coye Francies has 24 tackles off the bench at corner.

SPECIAL TEAMS

PK Alexis Serna, Jr.
P Kyle Loomis, Fr.
KR Coye Francies, Jr.
Gerard Lawson, Jr.
PR Sammie Stroughter, Sr.

2005 Lou Groza Award winner Alexis Serna returns as one of the country's finest kickers. The junior's accuracy hasn't been quite as good this season, connecting on just 12 of 17 field goal attempts, but is still quite a weapon with range when the Beaver offense stalls. Serna is 6 of 9 on attempts of 40 yards or more and his longest make of the season went for 58 yards against Cal. Freshman Kyle Loomis has assumed the punting responsibilities and is averaging just under 40 yards per attempt. Loomis' longest punt of his young career was for 62 yards.

Arguably the conference's top breakout special teams performer of the year is wide receiver Sammie Stroughter. The senior has scored 3 touchdowns returning punts this season, including one last week that helped propel the Beavers in their upset of USC. Stroughter's 19.7 punt return average is tops in the Pac-10. Junior cornerbacks Coye Francies and Gerard Lawson have had modest success returning kicks. Francies' longest return went for 37 yards and is averaging 23.6 yards on 16 returns. Lawson's average return is just under 20 yards.

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