Oregon State Preview

Saturday marks the start of the "second season" for ASU, as after a 2-1 non-conference slate – which culminated in a heartbreaking loss at Georgia last week – comes to a close, the Sun Devils now focus on their nine Pac-10 Conference games, starting against Oregon State at ASU's Sun Devil Stadium.

Although Oregon State has been one of the Pac-10's most capable teams in recent years, a handful of factors may favor the Sun Devils; amazingly, ASU owns a 40-year home win streak over the Beavers and more recently, Oregon State comes to Tempe on a two-game losing streak including a home loss last week at the hands of Arizona.

If Pac-10 history has taught fans anything, it is that Oregon State– a team which religiously starts slow and ends furiously – cannot be taken lightly at any time.

Under head coach Mike Riley, the man who replaced current Sun Devil skipper Dennis Erickson in 2003, Oregon State has gotten the very most of its talent, and with dynamic brothers Jacquizz and James Rodgers highlighting the offense and a collection of talent among the defense – specifically in the front seven – the Beavers are capable of igniting a run of success at any time.

Oregon State Projected Offensive Starting Lineup

QB 5 Sean Canfield 6-4 214 Sr. Carlsbad, Calif.

TB 1 Jacquizz Rodgers 5-7 191 So. Richmond, Texas

SE 80 Damola Adeniji 6-3 213 Sr. Eugene, Ore.

SB 23 Jordan Bishop 6-3 199 RS-Fr. West Salem, Ore.

FL 8 James Rodgers 5-7 185 Jr. Richmond, Texas

TE 83 Brady Camp 6-4 259 Jr. Gresham, Ore.

LT 77 Michael Philipp 6-3 313 Fr. San Bernardino, Calif.

LG 70 Grant Johnson 6-3 278 So. Baker City, Ore.

C 60 Alex Linnenkohl 6-2 297 Jr. Olympia, Wash.

RG 73 Gregg Peat 6-3 295 Sr. Mission Viejo, Calif.

RT 50 Mike Remmers 6-4 299 So. West Linn, Ore.

Oregon State Offensive Preview

For the Sun Devil defense to shut down Oregon State's offense, the game plan is simple.

Stop Rodgers.

Much easier said than done, of course, as reigning Pac-10 Offensive Player of Year Jacquizz Rodgers and older brother James form college football's most dynamic and dangerous sibling combination, with ‘Quizz leading the way at tailback and James starting at flanker while also earning several carries each game.

After surpassing 1,200 rushing yards as a true freshman in 2008, Jacquizz currently stands at third in the conference with 427 rushing yards on 78 carries (5.5 avg.) with seven touchdowns in four games, while amazingly leading the Pac-10 with 32 receptions and he ranks behind only California's Jahvid Best with seven total touchdowns.

James Rodgers ranks second behind Jacquizz in the Pac-10 with 27 total catches while leading the league with 352 receiving yards with two touchdown catches on the year. Additionally, he has posted 18 carries for 121 yards (6.7) on the ground and is Oregon State's leading rusher.

Oregon State is clearly creative in the ways that it puts the ball into both Rodgers' hands, however though both brothers are proven, bona fide playmakers, the talent around them is minimal – despite Jacquizz's amazing abilities, Oregon State merely ranks sixth in the conference in rushing offense at a per-game clip of 135.8 yards; less than a full yard greater than ASU's rushing average.

Behind Jacquizz and James, only two tailbacks have earned carries this season; Tucson native Jovan Stevenson (5-11, 184) has appeared in three games with 12 carries for 58 yards (4.8 avg.), while walk-on Jordan Jenkins (6-1, 210) appeared in the season-opening victory over Portland State and recorded two carries for six yards.

Senior Sean Canfield, who has experienced an up-and-down career in Corvallis, has started each of the first three games as last year's primary starter, Lyle Moevao, had been shelved due to injury before seeing very limited action against Arizona last week. Still slated to be the starting quarterback against ASU, completing 93-of-134 passes (69.4 pct.) for 899 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions, leading Oregon State's passing offense which currently leads the Pac-10 with a 255.8 yards-per-game average.

Though his high completion percentage is a standout statistic, that figure is greatly aided by the short distance patterns that Oregon State runs with the Rodgers brothers. Against Arizona last week, Canfield surpassed 300 passing yards but tossed a pair of interceptions and was sacked five times and though Moevao is available for duty, all expectations point toward Canfield being Oregon State's primary signal caller in Saturday's action.

With an equal career touchdown-to-interception ratio (22-to-22), Canfield clearly can be rattled toward inconsistency. With the blitzing schemes unveiled against Georgia, the season debut of projected starting strong side defensive end James Brooks and the overall development of ASU's young defense, the Devils will do themselves a major favor to focus on shaking Oregon State's quarterback early and often.

Moevao (5-10, 225) is listed as the top reserve, while redshirt freshman Ryan Katz (6-1, 229) is the third string quarterback and has played in one game in 2009, completing seven-of-12 passes (58.3 pct.) for 124 yards against Portland State in the opener. Aside from the Rodgers' contributions in the passing game, senior Damola Adeniji ranks third on the squad with 16 catches for 198 yards (12.4 avg.) with one touchdown. Beyond the James Rodgers and Adeniji, no Beaver wide receiver has over six receptions, as redshirt freshman Jordan Bishop ranks third among the group with six catches for 48 yards.

Darrell Catchings (5-11, 173), a junior who has been roughed up during much of the early portion of the season, is the top reserve at split end behind Adeniji, while redshirt freshman Geno Munoz (6-0, 192) also battles for action at the position.

Juniors Casey Kjos (6-2, 205) and Aaron Nichols (6-0, 186) back Bishop up in the slot; Kjos has reeled in two catches for 16 yards while Nichols has caught five passes for 94 yards with one score.

True freshman Markus Wheaton, a product of Chandler (Ariz.) High School, is the second string flanker behind James Rodgers and has seen early time, catching two passes for 13 yards while adding four carries for 19 yards in a multi-purpose role.

Brady Camp is slated as the top tight end but has served a limited offensive role, catching only one pass, a one-yard touchdown, thus far. Sophomore Joe Halahuni (6-2, 249) is listed as the top H-back on the roster and has hauled in six receptions for 87 yards. Senior Howard Croom (6-3, 240) and redshirt freshman Colby Prince (6-3, 248) are noted as the top reserves at tight end and H-back, respectively.

In having to replace several integral cogs along the offensive line Oregon State has suffered noticeable consequences, ranking dead last in the Pac-10 with 15 sacks allowed, including five last week against Arizona.

True freshman Michael Philipp starts at left tackle with sophomore Grant Johnson beside him at left guard. Junior Alex Linnenkohl will be the top center, while senior Gregg Peat and sophomore Mike Remmers are slated as the starters at right guard and tackle, respectively.

From left-to-right, freshman tackle Geoff Garner (6-5, 300), a Mesa (Ariz.) High School product, sophomore guard Michael Lamb (6-3, 285), junior center Ryan Pohl (6-3, 284), sophomore guard Burke Ellis (6-4, 268) and redshirt freshman Colin Kelly (6-4, 284) are listed as the second team offensive line.

When the Beaver offense is on the field the game will highlight strength versus strength; Oregon State's passing offense is tops in the Pac-10, as is ASU's pass defense. Jacquizz and James Rodgers are threatening playmakers in all offensive ways, while ASU has incredible depth and ferocity all throughout its defense.

These matchups will be integral to ASU's success in this game; though the Devils tie for the league low with two sacks on the year, Oregon State allows more than any Pac-10 team. With limited depth of talent on offense, look for the Devils to key in on both Rodgers and force other Beavers to try to win the game for Oregon State.

Oregon State Projected Defensive Starting Lineup

LE 55 Ben Terry 6-2 242 Sr. San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

DT 95 Latu Moala 6-1 285 Sr. Hayward, Calif.

DT 54 Stephen Paea 6-1 285 Jr. Los Altos, Calif.

RE 74 Kevin Frahm 6-2 259 So. Portland, Ore.

SAM 32 Keaton Kristick 6-3 230 Sr. Fountain Hills, Ariz.

MIKE 43 David Pa'aluhi III 5-11 233 So. Waianae, Hawaii

WILL 59 Dwight Roberson 6-0 231 Jr. Oxnard, Calif.

LCB 4 James Dockery 6-1 180 Jr. La Quinta, Calif.

RCB 21 Tim Clark 6-0 180 Sr. Compton, Calif.

S 10 Lance Mitchell 6-2 205 Jr. Pasadena, Calif.

S 28 Suaesi Tuimaunei 6-1 207 Jr. Laie, Hawaii

Oregon State Defensive Preview

Having five defensive players selected in the NFL Draft provides excellent bragging rights and recruiting fodder to a collegiate program, however the downside in that transition can be replenishing that high level of talent.

The losses of defensive ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris, cornerbacks Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis and safety Al Afalava to the professional ranks has left the Beavers with gaping holes of talent, as Oregon State ranks ninth in pass defense (272.0 ypg.), eighth in the Pac-10 in scoring defense (23.2 ppg.), eighth in pass efficiency defense (135.7) and eighth in total defense (364.2) while tying for last in the league with two total sacks on the year.

With a new starting secondary – a unit that by-and-large has suffered its shares of bumps and bruises this year – the focal point of the defense for the Beavers has been its capable front seven, a group which has led Oregon State to a respectable fourth-place standing in the league's rushing defense category (92.2 ypg.). However, for the Beavers to have only mustered two sacks in its first four games is a drastic deviation from what Corvallis has grown to expect lately, as Oregon State has ranked second, second and first in the Pac-10 in sacks over the past three years with a total of 130 sacks over the course of the 2006-08 seasons.

The most dominant figure on the defense is junior tackle Stephen Paea, one of the nation's most powerful athletes and one of the league's – if not the country's – more underrated defensive tackles. An Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 recipient a year ago, Paea has started all four games thus far and has totaled 11 tackles, 0.5 tackles-for-loss and a fumble recovery as one of the leading forces along the Beaver defensive front. Senior Latu Moala looks to earn his fourth start in five games this year, and has already equaled his tackles total (five) from last year as a reserve in all 13 games for the Beavers.

Redshirt freshman Castro Masaniai (6-2, 296) and Chandler, Ariz., native junior Mitchel Hunt (6-2, 282) are listed as the second-string defensive tackles, while senior Sioeli Nau (6-2, 309) and junior Brennan Olander (6-1, 276) fill out the third team at the position.

A pair of first-year starters have emerged at both defensive end spots, with senior Ben Terry securing the left end position and totaling seven tackles and one pass breakup to date in 2009, while sophomore Kevin Frahm holds down the right end location and has been one of the more productive linemen thus far for the Beavers, having recorded 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack.

Junior Gabe Miller (6-3 239), a converted tight end, is regarded as Terry's top reserve at left end, with redshirt freshman Andrew Seumalo (6-3, 256) behind him, while junior Matt LaGrone (6-6, 256) and redshirt freshman Taylor Henry (6-1, 228) are the second and third-string reserves at right end.

Phoenix (Ariz.) St. Mary's High School graduate Keaton Kristick returns to his home State to face the Sun Devils, and entering his senior season Kristick solidified himself as one of the primary leaders of the Oregon State squad as starting strong side linebacker, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 with a team-high 34 tackles in addition to 2.5 tackles-for-loss, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Though Kristick has started 17 consecutive games dating back to the start of last season, he is joined at linebacker by a pair of first-year starters. Middle linebacker David Pa'aluhi III ranks behind Kristick on the team's tackles list, rating second and tied for 12th in the league with 27 total stops, while collecting a team-high 3.5 tackles-for-loss.

Junior Dwight Roberson has started all four games this year at weak side linebacker, tallying 17 tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss.

Junior Keo Camat (6-2, 226) is listed as the top contingent at strong side linebacker, while junior Walker Vave (6-2, 240) and junior Keith Pankey (6-0, 222) are regarded as the top reserves at middle and weak side linebacker, respectively.

With the losses of all four starters from 2008, the Beavers have had an uphill climb to rebuild its secondary, a process which has been exposed this year by opposing quarterbacks and ranks among the bottom in the conference in pass defense; likely an appealing aspect for Sun Devil quarterback Danny Sullivan, who suffered a rough outing in the passing game last week against Georgia.

At cornerback, Tim Clark and James Dockery figure to be the starting combo as they have in each of the season's first four games. Clark has collected 18 tackles and two pass breakups, while Dockery has totaled 10 tackles and a team-high five pass breakups – though neither of the two has recorded an interception thus far.

Senior Patrick Henderson (5-10, 187), who also sees time on special teams, is the top backup at left cornerback behind Dockery, while sophomore Brandon Hardin (6-2, 210) is an alternate to Clark at right cornerback.

Safety Suaesi Tuimaunei leads all Beaver defensive backs and is tied for 21st in the Pac-10 with 24 tackles, while Lance Mitchell and sophomore Cameron Collins (6-2, 220) have split duties beside Tuimaunei at safety. Mitchell has posted 19 tackles, three pass breakups and one interception while Collins has logged 20 tackles and two pass breakups.

Redshirt freshman Anthony Watkins (6-1, 211) is listed as the top reserve behind Tuimanuei at one safety position.

All-in-all, if the Sun Devil offensive line – which has suffered a rash of injuries over the past week – can provide time to Danny Sullivan to make proper decisions, ASU likely holds an advantage in receivers versus Beaver defensive backs. However, with power and tenacity among the Oregon State front seven and unpredictability throughout ASU's offensive front, the battle of ASU offense against Oregon State defense likely will be won in the trenches.

Oregon State Projected Special Teams Lineup and Preview

K 27 Justin Kahut 5-8 176 Jr. Portland, Ore.

P 7 Johnny Hekker 6-5 220 So. Bothell, Wash.

KR 8 James Rodgers 5-7 185 Jr. Richmond, Texas

3 Patrick Henderson 5-10 187 Sr. Oakland, Calif.

PR 8 James Rodgers 5-7 185 Jr. Richmond, Texas

Junior Justin Kahut ranks among the Pac-10's more efficient kickers this season, converting seven-of-eight field goals and 10-of-11 extra points, while sophomore punter Johnny Hekker ranks among the lower half of Pac-10 punters, averaging 40.7 yards on 18 punts.

James Rodgers averages a respectable 25.7 yards on kickoff returns, but the Beavers have had limited results on punt returns, as Rodgers has taken three punts for 22 yards.

Overall Expectations

Though Oregon State is very well coached and has proven to be a team to never take lightly, given the matchups that exist in this contest and the challenges that the Beavers have faced lately, there are many advantages to see from a maroon and gold lens.

Jacquizz Rodgers is one of the nation's most exciting players and his brother James is an all-purpose dynamo, but little of Oregon State's other offensive talent provides much of a scare.

Defensively, the Beavers have had a challenging time generating a pass rush and have had drastic difficulties in pass coverage; a combination that on paper bodes well for a makeshift offensive line and a quarterback in need of a confidence booster.

This game means a great deal for both squads; Oregon State can ill-afford to drop three consecutive games – including its first two Pac-10 contests – while ASU faces a seemingly advantageous stretch over the next three games and would be well-served to begin that span with a boost of momentum.

ASU Injury Update and Lineup Notes

  • Defensive tackle offensive lineman Mike Marcisz suffered a season-ending injury against Georgia.
  • Offensive linemen Matt Hustad and Zach Schlink, and tailback James Morrison will not play against Oregon State.
  • The availability of linebacker Oliver Aaron and offensive lineman Andrew Sampson is uncertain.
  • Former walk-on offensive lineman Brent Good could earn his first career start at right guard. If he doesn't Garth Gerhart will earn the nod with Thomas Altieri starting at center.
  • Wide Receiver Kyle Williams suffered a leg injury in a midweek practice, but is expected to play. If he cannot play, Chris McGaha is expected to start in the slot and Gerell Robinson and Kerry Taylor will likely also start at wide receiver.
  • Quarterback Samson Szakacsy saw some practice time this week and could see playing time for the first time since arriving to Tempe.

Five Questions: ASU vs. Oregon State

  • Can ASU quarterback Danny Sullivan bounce back from an inefficient performance against Georgia?
  • Who will win the battle between Oregon State's offense and ASU's defense?
  • Will ASU's receivers be able to catch the ball with consistency?
  • How will ASU's patchwork offensive line hold up to a capable Oregon State front seven?
  • Will the ASU passing game be able to exploit a lowly-ranked Oregon State secondary?

Familiar Faces: ASU vs. Oregon State

  • Freshman offensive lineman Josh Andrews graduated from Ontario (Calif.) Colony High School, the same as ASU cornerback Omar Bolden.
  • Freshman offensive lineman Geoff Garner was a high school teammate of ASU safety Keelan Johnson at Mesa (Ariz.) High School.
  • Defensive tackle Mitchel Hunt is a Tempe native and graduated from Corona del Sol High School.
  • Linebacker Keaton Kristick graduated from Phoenix St. Mary's High School, the same as ASU running back James Morrison.
  • Safety Lance Mitchell was a high school teammate of ASU offensive tackle Tom Njunge at Pasadena (Calif.) Muir High School.
  • Freshman linebacker Rueben Robinson was a high school teammate of several Sun Devils at Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton High School.
  • Offensive lineman Rory Ross was a high school teammate of ASU wide receivers Jamal Miles and T.J. Simpson at Peoria (Ariz.) High School.
  • Defensive lineman Tonu Tuimalealiifano graduated from Farrington High School in Honolulu, Hawaii, the same as ASU offensive lineman Shawn Lauvao.
  • Running back Jovan Stevenson (Tucson Sunnyside HS) and Markus Wheaton (Chandler HS) are both Arizona natives.

Sun Devil Source Top Stories