Side by side: OSU (1-0) at UC (1-0)

For the first time in Bearcat history a Pac-10 team travels to Nippert Stadium as Oregon State clashes with Cincinnati in front of a nationally televised game on ESPN.

LAST WEEK: Oregon State used their team speed and physical play on both sides of the ball to wear down the Utah Utes winning their season opener 24-7 in Corvallis.

RB Yvenson Bernard rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns while the Beaver defense accounted for nine tackles for loss, including five sacks.

LAST WEEK: Ben Mauk threw for two touchdowns in a triumphant comeback from injuries, and Marshwan Gilyard, caught a scoring pass in a comeback of his own, as Cincinnati beat Southeast Missouri State 59-3 in the debut of coach Brian Kelly's Cat Attack.

KEY INJURIES: KEY INJURIES:

WHEN OREGON STATE IS ON OFFENSE:  After just one game the quarterback picture is a little clearer, although it still remains a little murky. QB Sean Canfield started the game as planned completing just two of his first seven passes, leading the team to back to back three and outs, although he wasn't helped by dropped passes. QB Lyle Moevao entered in the second quarter and promptly threw an interception on his first Pac-10 pass. It was a bad route by the receiver and a poor throw by Moevao.

With the offense struggling in the first half Moevao did stabilize the team leading them on an 11 play, 58-yard scoring drive on which he hung in the pocket on 4th and 7 finding true freshman Darrell Catchings for a 17-yard gain. Moevao did have trouble getting to the line of scrimmage quickly as he unintentionally went deep into the play clock several times with some resulting in a delay of game.

Canfield made good on his second chance in the second half as he lead the team on three scoring drives resulting in 17 points, although this is a little deceiving as the offensive line and RB Yvenson Bernard took over in the third and fourth quarters. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound player will start once again at Cincinnati with Moevao getting another shot to prove himself as well.

One of the most pleasant surprises Thursday was the play of two true freshman receivers - James Rodgers and Darrell Catchings - who both came off the bench to spark the offense. Rodgers rushed four times for an exciting 62 yards, mainly on end arounds as he used his speed to get to the corner. Every time he touched the ball the Beavers got a first down. After dropping a crucial third down pass Catchings bounced back with a key fourth down reception to setup OSU's first touchdown. In the third quarter he caught his first collegiate touchdown pass on a six yard slant.

Senior flanker Anthony Brown had a rough game dropping back to back passes in the first half while being slowed down by cramps. He did have a 29-yard reception though, the team's longest of the night. Senior Brandon Powers, who lines up in the slot, did not have a reception and was mainly held in to block due to the Utes stacking the box. Junior split end Chris Johnson can stretch the field and had one reception for 15 yards.

As you probably already know, Sammie Stroughter, one of the top receivers in the nation, is reportedly out for the year due to personal issues, although he was on the sidelines enjoying himself last week. He practiced for the first time in almost a month with the first team offense this week and will travel to Cincinnati with the team. Indications are that he will suit up giving the team a big emotional boost on the road.

Despite Utah lining up at least six players on the line of scrimmage for much of the game the offensive line helped RB Yvenson Bernard rumble for 165 yards and two touchdowns while catching a team high four receptions for 23 yards. Bernard is small at 5-foot-6, but is shifty in between the tackles with great lateral movement, plus he isn't afraid to lower his shoulder and move the pile forward. He is equally adept at catching the ball out of the backfield and is great at blocking as well.

Backing up Bernard is Matt Seiverson, who is a significant drop off from Bernard, but does a nice job of hitting the hole quickly and keeping his feet moving. A fullback is occasionally used and for the first time in the Mike Riley era part two the fullback, Andy Stewart, carried the ball.

Blocking for the Men in Black is one of the top lines in the Pac-10. Unfortunately one of the top guards in the nation, Jeremy Perry, suffered a lower leg injury in the fourth quarter against Utah and is out for six weeks. Taking Perry's place in the lineup is the versatile Adam Speer, who has one career start under his belt and will fill in nicely. To his left is tackle Tavita Thompson, who received his first career start last week.

The brains of the line are at center where Kyle DeVan has started 26 games. DeVan is very mobile and pulls often to get out in front for Bernard. Right guard Roy Schuening is another good one who has a team high 38 consecutive starts. Rounding out the line is Andy Levitre, one of the best blockers on the team and the biggest at 324 pounds. As whole they are mean, mobile and love getting putting the opposition on their backs.

No less than four players rotate at tight end. Sophomore Howard Croom starts with Brady Camp, Gabe Miller and John Reese all rotating in. Croom, at this point, is the most well rounded. Camp excels at blocking, Reese at catching and Miller is working his way back from injury and could be a superstar when all is said and done.

WHEN CINCINNATI IS ON OFFENSE: Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk will be the Bearcat quarterback. Mauk had 10 starts in 18 appearances in his four years at Wake running a somewhat pedestrian offense.

In his first start for Cincinnati running Brian Kelly’s no huddle-spread offense, Mauk was 18 of 27 for 244 yards and two touchdowns against one interception.

Back-up quarterback Tony Pike was 6 of 9 for 57 yards and also had 3 carries for 67 yards.

Mauk’s primary targets will be junior Dominick Goodman, sophomore Marty Gilyard and senior Antwuan Giddens. Goodman was the MVP of the 2007 International Bowl and led the Bearcats with 40 receptions last year. Gilyard played cornerback as a true freshman and left the team temporarily last year. The Florida sophomore has made a strong comeback after moving to receiver this summer and caught 8 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown in the opening game last week against Southeast Missouri State. Giddens is a senior who had only one catch last year after recording 20 as a sophomore.

Freshmen Armon Binns and Marcus Barnett will also see action as will senior Mike Daniels.

The offensive line returns three year starter Digger Bujnoch at left tackle. The senior’s father, Glenn, played on the offensive line for the Cincinnati Bengals for eight years. Trevor Canfield also returns at guard after being named 2nd team All-BIG EAST last year.

The third returnee is sophomore right tackle Jeff Linkenbach. The newcomers to the starting line-up are sophomore center Chris Jurek and senior guard Ken Rodriguez. Also expected to see action are junior tackle Khalil El-Amin and freshman center Jason Kelce.

The Bearcats have three senior running backs. Butler Benton who rushed for 101 yards on 12 carries last Thursday will start, but Greg Moore will also see plenty of action. Bradley Glatthaar will be utilized in short yardage situations.

Making a push for more carries is sophomore Jacob Ramsey. The Columbus, Ohio native rushed for 76 yards on 16 carries in the opener last week but also had a 70 yard touchdown run called back.

Senior Earnest Jackson starts at tight end, but junior Connor Barwin will also play. Jumbo tight end, Doug Jones (6’ 4”/280), is battling a gimpy knee but should also see action.

 

WHEN CINCINNATI HAS THE BALL: Last year's Beaver defense led the Pac-10 in sacks and this year they got off to a rousing start sacking the Ute quarterbacks five times while adding four more tackles for loss. The defense rotates a lot of people in and out as eight different players accounted for the nine tackles for loss.

The core of the defense is with the linebackers who all returned after starting a year ago. SLB Derrick Doggett is one of the faster players on the team who does a great job of keeping mobile quarterbacks in check. His closing speed is outstanding and his long arms give him the ability to defend the pass. Lining up in the middle is Alan Darlin, a 251-pound athlete who hits like a truck and is great at stopping the run. He notched six tackles a week ago. WLB Joey LaRocque is always around the ball and led the team in tackles last year. He had five tackles last week.

Bryant Cornell, who is tough as nails, and Keaton Kristick, a future All-Pac-10 performer, are two of the first linebackers off of the bench.

Similar to Cincinnati the Beavers use 8-10 players on the defensive line with a high rotation schedule. Starting at left is Dorian Smith, one of the teams top pass rushers, who he had one sack last week. On the other side is Jeff Van Orsow, who is experienced and has a nose for the ball. Ends Victor Butler and Slade Norris are pass rushing specialists and are mainly brought in on third and long.

Doing the dirty work in the middle is Curits Coker, a feisty player who does a great job of clogging the middle allowing the linebackers to make plays. To his left is Gerard Lee, who has a first quick step. William 'Akau'ola and Pernell Booth also see plenty of time at tackle.

Cornerbacks Brandon Hughes and Keenan Lewis are in their third years of starting at cornerback. Hughes put on a bunch of muscle in the off season and did a great job of fighting through blocks for tackles. He had five tackles, including one for loss, and one pass breakup against Utah. Lewis missed most of the game last week due to cramps, a perpetual issue with him since he has been at Oregon State.

Replacing Lewis when he is out is sophomore Tim Clark who received his most game time ever last week. Keep an eye on Clark as he is the secondary's weakest player.

One of the top units on the team is the safeties. Senior free safety Daniel Drayton made several text book open field tackles in his starting debut grabbing seven stops, including two for loss. Strong safety Al Afalava, one of the hardest hitters on the team, had a strong game leading all players with 10 tackles, including one sack, and a game high three pass breakups.

Backing up Drayton is the heady Greg Laybourn and backing up Afalava is the rangy Bryan Payton.

On a whole the defense is very fast and does an excellent job of swarming to the ball as there was almost two or more players making a tackle. They were very disciplined and physical eventually beating the Utah offense into submission knocking out their starting running back and quarterback.

WHEN OREGON STATE HAS THE BALL: Terrill Byrd returns after a one game suspension. Byrd was a 1st team All-BIG EAST selection at defensive tackle last year. Opposite Byrd is one of the strongest players on the squad, Adam Hopple. The ex-Ohio wrestling champ benches 450 pounds and has had an astounding 38 reps at 225 pounds.Adam had a half a sack and a half a tackle for loss in the opener.

The starting defensive ends will be seniors Anthony Hoke and Angelo Craig. Both do a nice job getting penetration. Craig had a tackle for loss Thursday while Hoke had a sack and a tackle for loss. The Bearcats could play eight or nine players across the front. Others expected to see action are senior Jon Newton, sophomore Ricardo Mathews, junior Lamonte Nelms, and junior Torry Cornett.

The linebacking corps will utilize a number of players. Andre Revels will likely start in the middle and had a tackle for loss in the opener. Revels, Byrd and Goodman all played together at Colerain High School and helped the Cardinals win the Ohio Division I state championship in 2004. Ryan Manalac will also see time in the middle.

Corey Smith lead the linebackers with five tackles against SEMO and start at the “will” spot. Smith was named 3rd team Freshman All-American by Football News two years ago before battling an injury last season. Backing up Smith will be senior Jon Carpenter, whose brother Bobby plays linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys.

The “sam” linebacker will depend of Leo Morgan’s health. If Morgan can’t go, Delbert Ferguson who chose the Bearcats over Washington State will likely start.

Junior Mick Mickens anchors one cornerback spot. Mickens is a two time 2nd team All-BIG EAST choice and is off to a great start in 2007. Mickens got two interceptions against Southeast Missouri State last week and returned one for a TD. DeAngelo Smith returns as the other cornerback. Smith broke open the Rutgers game last year when he returned a Mike Tell pass for an 84 yard Bearcat touchdown.

Haruki Nakamura returns for his senior season as a three year starter at safety and led the Bearcats in tackles Thuursday by recording eight, and Cedric Tolbert and Anthony Williams will probably continue to split time at free safety. Aaron Webster and Evan Sparks will also provide depth at safety.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The field goal and place kicking game is set with 2005 Lou Groza winner Alexis Serna at the helm. Serna has made a school record 109 consecutive extra points and was straight and true on his 37-yard field goal last week.

Serna also handles kickoffs, averaging 59.4 yards per boot, and punting duties, not his strength. OSU's punter unexpectedly quit before the start of fall camp forcing Serna to handle punting as well.

In his first action as a punter he struggled averaging 33.1 yards per kick. This is definitely something to keep your eye on.

Taylor Kavanaugh returns punts averaging 10.5 per return while Gerard Lawson handles kickoff returns with a 23.5 average.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Place kicking is a concern after freshman starter Jake Rogers missed two PATs and a 47-yard field goal in the first half last week.

Junior Brandon Yingling kicked in the second half and was 4 of 5 in the PAT department. Kevin Huber averaged 56.5 punts on two kicks.

OREGON STATE CAN WIN IF: The team sticks to their game plan. The Beavers have an excellent defense that will keep them in the game and wear out the opposing team's offense with their physical play. They also have a physical offensive line that wears down the opposing team's defense.

There probably won't be a lot of points so just give the ball to Bernard, grind it out on the ground and come back to Corvallis 2-0.

CINCINNATI CAN WIN IF: The Bearcats will need to limit their turnovers but realistically can’t expect the defense to get another six take aways this week. The UC defense will need to improve its tackling especially with Beaver running back Yvenson Bernard expected to get 25+ touches.

A return of the 90+ degree days could help the Bearcats too. The Beavers may not be used to the kind of weather Cincinnati has experienced this summer, and Paul Longo’s conditioning could help Cincinnati wear the PAC-10 foe down.

OREGON STATE WILL LOSE IF: Canfield and/or Moevao try to do to much and turn the ball over and/or if the Cincinnati defensive stops the running attack putting pressure on the young quarterbacks while making the offense one dimensional.

CINCINNATI WILL LOSE IF: If the Bearcats allow Bernard and company to get his 100+ yards on the ground and can’t get to Canfield or Moevao (although I expect Canfield to play most of the game), the offense will have to put up a lot of points to keep the Bearcats close.

OREGON STATE 2-Deeps:
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CINCINNATI 2-Deeps:
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Dan Norz is the publisher of BeaverFootball.com. Fly your Oregon State car flags proudly Thursday and GO BEAVS! Tim Adams is the publisher of BearcatInsider.com.

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