Stay off Anderson's Back Already

The fallout from last week's season opening waltz over Sacramento State has predictably climbed onto the back of junior quarterback Derek Anderson. And, in a manner that should be deemed as unfair and unjust nit-picking at this early moment in Autumn.

Radio hosts, columnists, message board dwellers, and belligerent Beaver fans have all been piling on Anderson as if last Thursday’s game were a repeat of the five-interception performance on the trip to Seattle last November.

Has the bar for Beaver football really been raised that high? It appears so. Instead of being more than satisfied with Anderson’s effort, as most would have been in years passed, DA gets everything but a scarlet letter put on him. All of this even with the game time loss of Anderson’s favorite target, senior James Newson, a pre-season honors candidate and best receiver in the Pac-10 not named Williams.

"Roll off of DA already. Beaver Nation’s higher power has been blessed with a unique talent not seen in these parts before."

From my view up in the press box, I observed the overthrows, the misreads, and the balls thrown behind receivers, however I didn’t leave Reser fretting over the improvement needed in the passing game. It is August. The criticism should at least be put on hold until the bathing suits are back in the drawer, the kids are back in school, and leaves start changing color.

Roll off of DA already. Beaver Nation’s higher power has been blessed with a unique talent not seen in these parts before. Throwing the gauntlet down on him, the only hope the Beavers have at the quarterback position, will kill the guy’s confidence and won’t help anything.

If everyone wants to make a mediocre bowl appearance every year, keep ridiculing the kid, then enjoy spending your holiday vacations watching the Beavers play the Hawaii’s and Pittsburgh’s of the college football world. No recruit will want to come to the happening town of Corvallis, Oregon to play football if this is the way we treat our players.

Anderson’s 17 for 35 (49%) was indeed “misleading” as one columnist put it. However it was “misleading” in that he should have been more like 22 for 35 (63%) due to the combined five balls that hit Kenny Farley and Mike Hass in the hands and were dropped. If a football hits a division one receiver in the hands, it should be reeled in, plain and simple. Last season James Newson made several catches after adjusting to the ball, and you can bet after reviewing the film that receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander will be emphasizing just that in practice this week.

While Adam Rothenfluh is a warm body, and Ryan Gunderson is the future of Beaver signal callers, I would shudder in a cocoon of marquee horror if either of them were to take over as first string QB. You want to see a flashback to 1983? Go ahead, clamor for the benching of Anderson. I’ll set the over/under for wins with either of those two at the helm somewhere around two (Arizona and Stanford at home).

It seems when the Beaver passing game doesn’t produce the desired and now expected results, Beaver cynics will point to Anderson as the entire cause for failure, which is decidedly off base. They won’t point to the receivers or the line or the play calling, they’ll skip right over those potential reasons and pile on a 20-year-old kid instead, because it’s the easy thing to do.

I can’t help but wonder if any of those cynics could even control their bladders trying to make split-second decisions in front of tens of thousands of people with 11 highly trained beasts trying to knock the crap out of them at the tender age of 20.

Jonathan Smith started the Fiesta Bowl year 13 of 29 for 132 yards against I-AA Eastern Washington.

In years past, highly touted Pac-10 QB’s have had their early season jitters, and they turned out all right. Take for example USC’s Carson Palmer (2nd string NFL QB, Heisman Trophy winner), Cal’s Kyle Boller (Starting NFL QB), and for comparable measure, Jonathan Smith, in their openers as a second year starting college quarterback:

In the 2001 season opener at the Coliseum, Palmer went 21 of 28 for 213 yards, 0 touchdowns, but did manage one interception in a 21-10 win against a San Jose State squad that would go on to a dominating 3-9 season.

Boller went 16 for 28 for 187 yards with one interception and zero touchdown passes in the Bears’ 2001 season opening 44-17 home loss at the hands of an Illinois defense that gave up over 230 yards passing per game, placing them in the lower third of D-1 teams.

Jonathan Smith in the 11-1 Fiesta Bowl year of 2000 was an outstanding 13 of 29 with one pick and zero TD’s for 132 yards versus 1-AA Eastern Washington. Despite Smith’s performance the Beavers managed to impressively pull out a 21-19 victory to kick off the greatest season in Beaver football history.

Derek starts 17 of 35 for 273 yards with two touchdown passes, zero interceptions, and managed to get sacked only once in a 40-7 sleepwalk over Sacramento State. Sac State will probably win 7 or 8 games this year and contend for their conference title. And all anyone can do is complain that he isn’t good enough?! People are reaching here.

Sacramento State head coach Steve Mooshagian is a believer that with an improved passing game, Oregon State will be a formidable force not just in the Pacific-10 Conference, but in the nation as well.

Sac St coach Steve Mooshagian thinks Riley's team is top 25 material.

“Oregon State is a really good football team,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for them and the program. They are a top-25 team, and if they improve their completion percentage and the passing game as a whole, they’re going to be right up there.”

Coach “Moosh” should know, he was in the NFL this time last year with Cincinnati as wide receivers coach overseeing former Beaver stars Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Notice he said “the passing game as a whole,” not Anderson only.

On behalf of non-myopic Beaver followers, would it be too much to ask those of you looking to jump all over DA’s back to please curtail your shattering criticism until at least after we’ve seen a few Pac-10 teams? And if at that point we’re still having this discussion, I will be glad to send those of you who desire one of the popularly requested, but seldom worn, “I was right, Banning was wrong!” t-shirts.

Brad A. Banning covers the football team for the Barometer and will be helping out at BeaverFootball.com. The views expressed in his column are not necessarily those of the BeaverFootball.com staff. Banning can be reached at brad.a.banning@beaverfootball.com.


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