Coach's Corner - Chomping at the bit

While it may not (yet) be a complete 180 degree turn, the 2006 Oregon State football season certainly has started to make a twist for the better. With a two game winning road winning streak, a defense playing with its hair on fire and the number three team in the nation rolling into Corvallis the renovated Reser Stadium is set to experience its first sellout.

“We are rising as a team right now that backs us up with confidence,” quarterback Matt Moore said. “We just have come out firing on all cylinders. Get the crowd going, that is going to be huge for us this week. Get it going at home and play like we did on the road at home.”

The last time the USC Trojans visited Corvallis Reser Stadium was enveloped in fog and the Orange and Black almost pulled off an upset against the number one team in the nation. For Oregon State to win this time around they must perform well in all aspects of the game – from the special teams, to the offense and to the defense.

“Everybody is going to have to play really well and be very sound,” Riley said. “The Trojans have the ability to go on a fifteen play drive and grind it out. They’ve obviously got a big armed quarterback and good receivers.”

“They are very, very strong everywhere. So it’s going to take everybody on our team playing very well. I know our kids are chomping at the bit for this game. They are excited about getting ready to play.”

Unfortunately, the Beavers are riding a four game home conference losing streak. Match that with USC’s current four game winning streak over OSU, their 27 consecutive conference wins and their 18 straight road victories and the outlook doesn’t look good. And while it is exciting to play one of the best team’s in the nation, defensive end Dorian Smith says OSU must look at it as just another game.

“If I go into the game thinking, ‘Oh no, it’s USC’ we are already at a disadvantage,” Smith said. “I am putting on my helmet and snapping on my chin strap and I am trying to get my hand in the dirt. I am not afraid of anybody.”

Smith may not be afraid of anybody, but the injury situation has many in Beaver Nation worried. Running back Yvenson Bernard (ankle), Ruben Jackson (ankle) and Kyle DeVan (leg) were all injured against Arizona last weekend. Coach Mike Riley officially lists Bernard and Jackson as probably with DeVan, who was in pads Tuesday, as playing.

“We took a few more hits last week than we have for awhile,” Riley said. “Ruben Jackson and Yvenson Bernard are at best day-to-day. They have pretty good ankle sprains. I would say they are doubtful at this point but we can obviously wait before say anything more definitive than that.”

Jackson was up and moving around at practice Tuesday and is improving rapidly. Bernard has the longest way to go. The coaches will keep him out of practice this week to get him healthy and reevaluate his status each day. But, according to his teammates, Bernard will be in pads Saturday.

“Every day I talk to him, he says he is going to be ready,” offensive lineman Roy Scheuning said. “We will probably hold him out this week and get him healthy for Saturday. He would probably play with a broken leg if he could. I would be very shocked if he didn’t play.”

If Bernard can’t play, Scheuning said it would be “huge,” but Beaver Nation need not worry as Clinton Polk would start and the only thing he would have to do is follow the offensive line to pay dirt.

“Polk is a quality back,” said Scheuning, who has started 30 straight games. “I told him this week he has one job this week and that is to follow the offensive line. If he stays to that then he should be able to get a few yards rushing. It depends on how we play up front.”

If Bernard sits out most would assume it would change the way the Men in Black approach the game, but Riley says he still wants to run a balanced team.

“We have been there before with the Trojans where it’s a one dimensional game where we are throwing the ball all the time. That’s a hard thing to do,” Riley said. “Our goal is to be more balanced then we played them in the past and to keep that running game alive.”

To keep the Trojans from dictating what the Beavers do on offense, OSU must control the line of scrimmage offensively. Defensively, the Oregon State front seven must get pressure on the quarterback to keep the Trojan offense from getting into a rhythm.

“It will be a big, big factor in the game,” Riley said. “Their front is really good. They’re very, very fast and athletic. A big issue will be blocking them. Some people get some runs on them and some people get some stuff going, but they run to the ball fast and they collapse the holes fast so we are going to have to do a great job of blocking them up front.”

Despite the winning streaks and national ranking the Beavers are confident they can compete with the Men of Troy.

“I expect to win every game I play in,” said Smith, who leads the team in sacks with 3.5. “So if we do win I know people are going to look at it as an upset, but for me I expect to win the game.”

Scheuning agrees.

“I think it would be a pretty big upset, but in the same sense, with the way that we are playing right now, I expect us to compete both offensively and defensively,” Scheuning said. “If we come out and compete and play the way we have been playing we can pretty well hang with anybody. Who knows what is going to happen Saturday?”

Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. on FoxSports. Tickets are still available, call 1-800-GOBEAVS or visit OSUBeavers.com for more information.

 

Notes:

  • For a full chat transcript from Mike Riley, Dorian Smith, Roy Scheuning and Matt Moore, visit the premium message board.

  • For the latest on the injury situation, view the Hot News items.

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