Oregon State Preview

Not since 1969 have the Oregon State Beavers defeated Arizona State on their home turf. A streak like that doesn't sit well with the Orange and Black, and despite any historical superlatives that mean little after kickoff, the Beavers enter this game as capable victors if the Sun Devils don't bring their "A" game.

Two play makers on offense, Yvenson Bernard and Sammie Stroughter, along with a strong defense have Oregon State in position for yet another post-season appearance in 2007.

2007 Record: 2-1, 0-0 Pac-10
Head Coach: Mike Riley

Last Week: The Beavers routed visiting Idaho State 61-10.

OFFENSE

*Projected Starters

WR Anthony Brown, Sr.
TE Howard Croom, So.
LT Tavita Thompson, Jr.
LG Adam Speer, Jr.
C Kyle DeVan, Sr.
RG Roy Schuening, Sr.
RT Andy Levitre, Jr.
QB Sean Canfield, So.
TB Yvenson Bernard, Sr.
WR Sammie Stroughter, Sr.
WR Brandon Powers, Sr.

The storyline consistently shadowing the Oregon State offense is that of the quarterback play. Sean Canfield will get a shot at redemption on the road after a disastrous performance turned in at Cincinnati two weeks ago. The sophomore has thrown for four touchdowns and four interceptions this season. Canfield has shared snaps with sophomore Lyle Moevao in the non-conference slate but it appears that Riley has settled more on Canfield as conference play is about to begin.

Speed has been a consistent hallmark of OSU wideouts in recent history and this year is no different. Sammie Stroughter is among the top receivers in the nation and the senior may have shaken off any remaining rust last week against Idaho State. Stroughter had 160 yards and two scores. Anthony Brown and Brandon Powers have a combined 19 catches and one touchdown this season.

All Pac-10 candidate Jeremy Perry suffered an injury in the season opener against Utah and the Sun Devils may have caught a small break with the left guard still sidelined for this game.

Key Match up: Yvenson Bernard vs. Arizona State Linebackers

With some consistency issues at quarterback, the ground game takes on a bigger role for the Beaver offense under workhorse Yvenson Bernard. The Doak Walker Award candidate has netted 249 yards and three touchdowns so far. Bernard can easily pick up extra yards if tacklers don't wrap him up.

DEFENSE

*Projected Starters

DE Dorian Smith, Sr.
DT Gerard Lee, Sr.
DT Curtis Coker, Sr.
DE Jeff Van Orsow, Sr.
SLB Derrick Doggett, Sr.
MLB Alan Darlin, Sr.
WLB Joey Larocque, Sr.
SS Daniel Drayton, Sr.
FS Al Afalava, Jr.
CB Brandon Hughes, Jr.
. CB Keenan Lewis, Jr.

Seven seniors have played a huge role in the success of the rush defense in Corvallis. The Beavers tout the second best rush defense in the nation by surrendering an average of just 27.7 yards on the ground. The trio of linebackers is one of the finest groups the Sun Devils will face all year. Derrick Doggett features speed on the strong side and will likely be in on many plays once again. Joey Larocque and Alan Darlin complete the trifecta behind the line. Despite the proven starting talent , Oregon State will rotate fresh legs in at linebacker with Keaton Kristick, Isaiah Cook, and Bryant Cornell.

The secondary is anchored by safeties Daniel Drayton and Al Afalava, the top two tacklers on the team. Afalava can create headaches, both figuratively and literally as he's solid in pass coverage and can hit like a ton of bricks. Greg Laybourn, also a junior, is the top reserve behind Drayton. Junior cornerbacks Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis have combined for 49 career starts between them.

Key Match up: Oregon State Pass Rush vs. Arizona State O-Line

Defensive end Dorian Smith notched nine sacks as a reserve last fall and is now a full-time starters. Smith combines with Jeff Van Orsow, Victor Butler, and Slade Norris to form a salty group up front that have a knack for getting into opposing backfields. The foursome has already totaled seven sacks in three games this year. How well the veteran Arizona State offensive line can hold up against the impending OSU pressure figures to be a big part in determining the game winner.

SPECIAL TEAMS

P Alexis Serna, Sr.
PK Alexis Serna, Sr.

PR Sammie Stroughter, Sr.
KOR Gerard Lawson, Sr.

Former Lou Groza Award winner Alexis Serna is as solid as they come in place kickers. Despite one early season miss, the senior is a still a reliable weapon. Serna is 2 of 3 on field goal attempts this season with his longest make coming from 37 yards out. Kyle Loomis' departure forced Serna to take over punting duties last month, which has led to some inconsistencies at times. The specialist is averaging 34.6 yards per punt, which ranks 110th in the nation.

Beware of Sammie Stroughter on punt returns. The senior receiver is capable of gobbling up chunks of yardage even if he's given just a small hole to burst through. Stroughter's longest return this season came against Cincinnati for a 36-yard gain but he has three career punt returns for a touchdown. Gerard Lawson is averaging 24.1 yards per return on kickoffs this year.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR OREGON STATE

- Avoid too many 3-and-outs: The defense is solid enough to keep the Beavers in games provided the offense and/or special teams don't leave them with a short field to defend and winded in the second half.

- Force Carpenter to throw down field: The defense will likely key in on ASU running back Ryan Torain and force signal-caller Rudy Carpenter to move the chains with his arm. Former Beaver safety Sabby Piscitelli was a proverbial thorn in the side of the Sun Devils before and current play-making safety Al Afalava gets his chance this coming Saturday.

- Big plays from Sammie: Whether it be on offense or on punt returns, the more yards Stroughter can eat up, the more things tilt in favor of Oregon State. He's one of the country's top return men and big returns can easily lead to important momentum shifts on the road.

KEYS TO VICTORY FOR ARIZONA STATE

- Pressure, Pressure, Pressure: Besides having their hands full with Yvenson Bernard, the front seven must get a consistent push up front on the inexperienced Beaver quarterbacks. The ASU secondary is susceptible to lapses in pass coverage at times so any help from the defensive front will be welcome.

- Special teams must be "special": ASU punter Jonathan Johnson must find his leg to avoid shanks and short punts with Sammie Stroughter awaiting his punts on the opposite end. The coverage units and kicker Thomas Weber have been solid thus far and more of the same could be the difference-maker in a game like this.

- Continued success at Wide Receiver: The Sun Devil receivers are visibly improved after last season's struggles at the position. With a stout rush defense coming to town with the intent on stopping Torain, this will be the first in a series of tests for the wide receivers this season.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories