The Hunt Begins

A purple and gold strand remains connected to the Oregon State football program reminding fans and players of the 28 consecutive years of losing. The ugly strand represents nearly two decades of losing in Seattle. Crushing the connection would give the Beavers their first conference win of the season and the confidence they need to finish the year in the hunt for postseason play.

Following a rough five games in which OSU faced four ranked teams the bye week came at a good time. The players were crushed mentally and some needed a week to heal physically. Tight end Joe Newton rested his shoulder while linebacker Chaz Scott let his ankle heal. Both are expected to play this weekend.

Practice started out on a solemn note last week, but by the end of the week the players were full of life. The trend has continued this week as the excited players are anxious to pick up their first road win of the season.

The past two out of three games in Husky Stadium between UW and OSU have been nail biters as Oregon State missed a field goal in 2000 that would have a tied the game and failed on a two-point conversion in 1998 that would won the game. The 12-point margin of victory in 2002 is deceptive as the game was closer then the final score indicated.

"It (playing in Seattle) provides a lot of big opportunities and a tremendous challenge for us to go win this game for a variety of reasons," head coach Mike Riley said. "and one of those is just for the good of this football team and to play good football. And the other one is the fact that we've got to break into Husky Stadium and start winning."

Unfortunately for the Beavs, the Dawgs have a history of beating OSU and turning their season around. UW has won the last 15 of 16 meetings (and the last 25 of 27) and the last seven straight against its Northwest Pac-10 rivals. They have also lost just five conference contests since 1999 while at home. But as Riley says, throw history out the window – these are different teams with different players and both are hungry for a win.

"Every game is its own little universe," said Riley who is 0-3 versus Washington while at Oregon State. "and this will be awfully tough because the Huskies are like us in a lot of ways. They've played a lot of good football and had some very close games against some good teams, and they will be very, very hungry like we are for a conference win."

One of the keys to the game will be keeping the Husky quarterbacks in check. Casey Paus is the starter, but the very mobile Isaiah Stanback will most likely see playing time. The possibility of playing against two different quarterbacks complicates preparation as the team has to prepare for both players.

"We have to be ready; we can't get caught without preparation for either guy," Riley said. "It takes a little more concerted effort in the preparation because you've got the gamut from the dropback pass to the option that you've got to be ready for."

The running game will once again try and be found as the coaches diligently studied the UCLA/UW game in which Bruin running back Maurice Drew ran for a school record 322 yards and five touchdowns. Riley noticed the Huskies gave up big plays and that is what the offense must do and what the defense must prevent.

"I think that's been like we have; we've played a lot of good defense but we've given up a lot of big plays, so there are a lot of similarities," said Riley who is 17-23 at OSU. "They have capabilities for sure on offense and in the kicking game, so I think it will be an overall football game that we'll have to play. They provide some versatility offensively that we'll have to adjust to."

Quarterback Derek Anderson had a rough week as he was criticized in various papers and on several message boards. The coaches helped him through the difficult time and are pleased with his attitude heading into Saturday's match up.

"Basically, our job is to help them grow and help them on the football field," Riley said. "We don't have an atmosphere of being mad at guys or eliminating guys. We're trying to build them up and coach them and form a disciplined, consistent program.

"He's headed into this week like everybody - with higher expectations and hopefully a little bit of a fresh start."

If Oregon State can keep on the positive side of the turnover battle, there is a very good chance they will win. Look for a focused, determined team to take the field this weekend.

"We've got two teams that are proud teams of where the programs have been and where they need to be," Riley said.. "so I think it makes for a very interesting matchup."

Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. and the game will not be televised, but the replay will be shown on FoxSports NW on Sunday, Oct. 17 at 3:00 p.m.


Keith Gilberston on…

On Derek Anderson: "He's leading the league in passing with 302 yards per game and he's two years older than when he was here last. He's a much more veteran guy and now. He's been with Mike and his staff for two years. We have to defend him and their receivers and find a way to get some rush to him, which is something that we have struggled with more than we would like. I think he's matured and I think he's a fine player and a great kid. I've gotten to know him and he's a marvelous young guy."

On looking at OSU on film and what are keys for Saturday: "We've got to match what the front seven and their two corners can do defensively. Their front seven is excellent. Billy Swancutt is a great football player and has been for a long time, he's terrific. I was thinking they won't be as good at defensive tackle because of those other people gone, then here comes two more guys terrific inside. They moved Trent Bray to inside linebacker and with Ellison and Pollard outside, they got terrific speed on the outside."

On Pac-10 changes that he has seen as a head coach: "Obviously the styles of play are going to change because of how many coaching changes there have been. Since I was I was a head coach at Cal, now there has been four new coaches at Washington. Probably the most stable places have been Oregon and Washington State. There's been three at USC and UCLA. OSU has had several, so there has been a lot of coaching changes in nine years. And with every coaching change is going to bring a little bit different style offensively, defensively. I think college football now, with the scholarship numbers, you're going to see that teams have cycles. They struggle for a while and then mature and have older kids that play well. Then you are going to struggle for a while when those people graduate."

On OSU's record: "Well, I think they play some good teams. I'll tell you what -- Boise State can flat move it, and California can flat move it. Those two teams are really high-rolling offenses -- hard to stop, lots of good skill, lots of speed. I think that LSU is an unbelievably talented team, and obviously they played them really well and really shut down New Mexico. So I think that's very misleading, because I look on the video and I see a bunch of quality athletes who play hard. Some of that's misleading, but at the same time you have to give Boise and California credit, because those people can really score. The interesting thing is you look at ASU and California and Boise State, all three of those head coaches come from the same system, having all been at Oregon. Those guys back at Oregon have scored a lot of points."

On how much you play off the Northwest rivalry thing: "Sure, it's significant. Oregon State and Washington have been playing each other for a long time, there have been some great football games. It's a heck of a game all the time. That's a big deal to us."

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