Thursday games will challenge team

A little more than two months after Oregon State won its second straight baseball national championship, the Beavers' football team looks to build on a 10-4 season from last year.

It will be difficult to improve on a season in which OSU defeated nationally ranked USC, won the Civil War in thrilling fashion, defeated a tough Hawaii team, on the road I might add, and to cap it all off, won the Sun Bowl on a late gutsy two-point conversion by stud tailback Yvenson Bernard.

Oregon State has a lot of talent returning for the 2007 season, but one key hole to fill – the most important position in all of football, possibly all of sports, quarterback.

The Oregonian reported recently that head coach Mike Riley plans to use both Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao behind center in the first two games of the season. My response when I read this? I threw the paper down and said, “If you’ve got two quarterbacks, you’ve really got none.”

Moore's leadership and enthusiasm will be missed.

However, after some careful thought, I came to this conclusion –

after the WSU game last year, the Beavers were 2-3, with a brutal showing against the Cougars; I, for one, wanted Matt Moore to be benched and Riley to be fired – good thing I’m not the A.D. because things worked out pretty well last year. And that's why I’m giving Riley a pass on this one – quite simply because he’s earned my trust. Last year, despite many jeers from the crowd, Riley was loyal and stuck with Moore – and it paid off in a big way.

The schedule is pretty tough this year with Pac-10 Conference road games at ASU, where it seems like OSU always has problems (unless they’re playing Notre Dame) – anyone remember the 13-9 game from a few years back? The schedule also includes road games versus Cal, consensus No. 1 USC, Washington State, and of course our foes to the south – the _ucks.

One of my first thoughts while looking at the schedule was if the Beavers have to play one team from each area on the road, why does it have to be these four? I think it is safe to say out of the four pairs of teams, we definitely have the better team of each pair on the road.

I’d much rather take OSU’s chances on the road against Arizona, rather than Dennis Erickson’s Arizona State squad. I’d much rather go into the Rose Bowl to play the Bruins rather than The Coliseum to play the Trojans. And I’d also rather play at Stanford then Cal and at UW rather than WSU – but, the schedule is what it is and our boys are going to have to fight hard to get through this season.

The defense should be solid. There are a number of players on the front line who will play and contribute. All three starting linebackers return and three of four in the secondary are back.

There are stars returning on offense in Bernard and wide receiver/punt returner Sammie Stroughter, who is, hopefully permanently, back after taking some time off for personal reasons. This season, as do most seasons, depends on the quarterback play. The o-line should be strong and the Beavers should be able to run the ball on anybody, but what kind of consistency will OSU have at the quarterback position?

We – as Beaver fans – should learn a lot about this team the next two Thursdays as they host Utah and travel to Cincinnati. My call going into the year – and of course I’d love for the team to finish 12-0 - is for the team to finish the regular season at 9-3 with losses to ASU, Cal, and USC.

I do think the Beavers, with the support of some of the best fans in college football, will win all of their home games and I do believe that this is finally the year we beat Oregon down there. And how oh how sweet that will be!

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Jake Schubert is a new/old contributor to BeaverFootball.com. He writes for the Newport News-Times in Newport, Oregon and can be reached at sports@newportnewstimes.com. Jake has been to every home football at OSU for eight consecutive years and he is looking to make it nine this year.


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