Anderson deserves better

First, let me say that I am not an apologist for Derek Anderson. Derek has parlayed the gifts God gave him for a full-ride scholarship to play football at Oregon State. Contrary to the "pay the players" proponents, I believe that five years of college education is excellent compensation, and it does not come without expectations.

Derek Anderson came to Oregon State with a level of hype not seen since Tim Alexander. He also came with the heaviest yoke under which a person can labor: “Great potential.”

“Could have gone to Florida State.”
“We won’t have him for four years.”
“Best Lapanno had seen since Bledsoe…”

Now, it is becoming apparent that the kid from Scappoose, while gifted with an NFL body and an NFL arm was not similarly blessed with NFL feet or a quick release.

He is struggling. The kid who was all-everything in two sports at Scappoose High, for whom all things athletic have always come naturally, is suddenly finding that his game is nowhere to be seen. He just found out in front of 35,000 fans on national TV, that’s all.

Derek’s “outta-my-way” sprint to the locker room at the end of the first half spoke volumes about his mindset. Who hasn’t had those “Oh, to be invisible right now” moments?

However anyone who was not moved by the sight of Anderson crumbling to the turf in frustration following his final interception at Fresno has either a) never failed; b) never been 20 years old; or c) never been a parent.

Anderson could use some love from Beaver Nation, just like Kenny Farley (pictured) received in 2002.

The look in Derek Anderson’s eyes is the same one that kickers begin to exhibit when they miss back-to-back field goals. It starts with tentativeness and evolves to the point where one can almost hear the nagging voices when they address the ball: “Dear God, don’t let me miss again.”

Thinking about what can go wrong is a vicious cycle. Ask any golfer what happens when, instead of thinking about a good shot, they begin to think about the water hazard:


You can see the same look in his eyes when receivers drop passes that hit them in the numbers, when they run the wrong route, when he throws over their heads or in front of their feet. Every time the play clock hits “:00” when he is at the line of scrimmage.

There is a whole “here we go again” negative affirmation that occurs when those bad thoughts are “proven correct.” It’s a slippery slope, and Derek Anderson is skiing it like Franz Klammer. Right now it doesn’t take much to get him out of the gate.

There is a saying:

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

Whatever you do, you do it better when you are prepared. Preparation is the key to confidence. The opposite is true as well: it’s hard to be confident when you know you’re not prepared, when you’re unorganized… when you “winging it.”

On Friday night, long before the beer bottles started coming down, the Beavers offense was in total disarray on the sidelines as well as on the field.

It would be an overstatement to say Derek Anderson was set-up to fail. However he clearly was not set-up to succeed.

Anderson was not the problem, he was its most visible casualty.

How is Derek Anderson supposed to have any confidence when on any given play…

  • He has to wait for for coaches to decide what the play will be – as the play clock runs;
  • after he receives the play and communicates it in the huddle, he comes to the line with the play clock is winding down, “:03…. :02…..:01…”
  • during which time he is trying to read the defense, decide whether or not to change the play and if need by, call the new play and if not call the snap count;
  • only to look over to see a teammate lined up illegally or for a completely different play?

The short answer is that Derek Anderson failed. A more complete answer is that others failed Derek Anderson.

At a very human level, Derek Anderson needs and deserves far better from his coaches, his teammates and those who call themselves fans.

Coaches: The OSU sideline looked just a little less organized than the Faber College Homecoming Parade. A Niedermeyer-esque insistence that “EVERYTHING IS UNDER CONTROL” when clearly it is not, doesn’t do a thing for your offense or your quarterback.

Derek Anderson didn’t suddenly become stupid. He is still the kid who broke every single season passing record as a sophomore, still the kid who looked like Drew Bledsoe as he lit up Oregon just three games ago.

It’s darn difficult to rush and calm down simultaneously. More than anything else, what Anderson needs is time and only you can give it to him. Know what the next play is going to be and to get it into him quickly.

Play the people who are ready to make plays. Make sure your players know where they are supposed to line up, and know their assignments.

Dropped passes are one thing. Not knowing assignments or where to line up? That’s inexcusable. On this team, with this quarterback, it is devastating. Yet players who have do those things consistently play ahead of those who have a history of making plays.

Derek Anderson didn’t suddenly become stupid. He is still the kid who broke every single season passing record as a sophomore, still the kid who looked like Drew Bledsoe as he lit up Oregon just three games ago.

Given the organizational issues, there is no reason to believe that the #2 quarterback (always the most popular player on any team) will fare any better.

Those who call themselves “fans” must not fail him now. A little empathy goes a long, long way.

This is still a young man playing an amateur game. Imagine it was you crumbling to your knees in frustration at Fresno State. Imagine that it was you who couldn’t get off centerstage fast enough at the half. Then be thankful that your own failings don’t occur in front of 30,000 fans and a national television audience. Especially at 20 years old.

Some say it comes with the territory. We “adults” don’t need to make that territory any rougher than it already is. Whatever criticism we can level at Derek Anderson, he has already outdone. That’s the whole problem.

Let the person who has never struggled cast the first “Boo.” As for the rest of us, let us invest our energy in helping a young man succeed.

Jaydub joined in 2003. Jaydub can be reached at

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