The Unusual Suspects: Week 10

CORVALLIS -- It was tougher than normal to find any hidden performance gems in the win over Washington -- everyone seemed to play well. But there a few "lesser known's" who made their presence known and gave a glimpse into the future for OSU football.

The sun shined bright, both literally and figuratively for OSU's final home game of the 2009 season. The Beavers cruised to a 48-21 victory against their Northwest rival, the Washington Huskies, and the Beavs now sit at 7-3 (5-2, Pac-10) and are ranked No. 20 in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25.

With a dangerous Husky team featuring Jake Locker, and with UW desperate for a win to keep it's bowl hopes alive, OSU smothered the Husky offensive attack and scored willingly against the league's second worst defense. It was a great send off for the OSU seniors, and a great momentum builder headed into Martin Stadium next week to face the fast-falling 1-9 Washington State Cougars. And although this column is about the unsung performances, it would be remiss not to pay tribute to the seniors.

Sean Canfield, Damola Adeniji, Lyle Moevao, Latu Moala, Sioeli Nau, Gregg Peat, Taylor Kavanaugh, Keaton Kristick, Tim Clark, Patrick Henderson, Ben Terry and Howard Croom were sent off the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday as the winningest senior group, so far, for OSU. On to the unusual suspects.

Kevin 'Unga - Ask yourself, who was OSU's leading tackler? Keaton Kristick? Nope. David Pa'aluhi? Nope. It was No. 41 -- Kevin 'Unga. He was all over the field and lead the Beavers with seven tackles, (3 solo).

In limited time, the special teams standout made his presence known and gave OSU fans a glimpse into the future of the linebacker position, even blanketing an out route on one occasion and stopping it for a short gain.

The athleticism and ability to find the ball is what OSU fans have been accustomed to seeing out of Mark Banker's 'backer groups.

Jovan Stevenson - After Ryan McCants broke off a big gainer, but then fumbled, Stevenson was called upon to carry the load midway through the second quarter after Jacquizz Rodgers left the field with an injured hip.

The Arizona native was instrumental in the Beavers final first half scoring drive, catching two passes for 25 yards one of which moved the chains on a third and three to sustain the drive and give OSU tremendous momentum headed into half time. Stevenson finished the day with 34 yards on three receptions and just four yards on three carries.

Brennan Olander and Stephen Paea - Thank your lucky stars OSU fans, this duo will be back for next season, (assuming Paea does not opt to forgo his senior year in favor of the NFL draft. Sports Illustrated and others are already mentioning him as a rising prospect in the NFL scouting community).

The inside presence of the two tortured Jake Locker all game long and the athletic Husky quarterback never got into rhythm because of it.

Statistically, their combined five tackles, with 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack doesn't do justice to the play of the two Saturday -- they crushed the pocket and with it, the Huskies.

Beaver Nation - At long last, the stadium was full, and it was rocking...for a short while at least. Attendance broke 45,000 for the first time this season and provided a true home field advantage when the game was close in the first half.

A great showing for Beaver Nation whom will earn the kudos from the departing seniors and potentially a spring board into next season that will see big names like Louisville, USC, California, and Oregon head into Corvallis.

Aaron Nichols - There was a time early when the Beavs needed a big play, and Nichols gave it to them. Oregon State led 20-0 when the Huskies put together an impressive drive. Until that point, OSU owned the Husky offense but the UW found new life with a 9-play 66-yard to close the gap to 20-7.

On the ensuing possession, and two incompletions later, it was third-and-ten for the Beavs and the Huskies were feeling it. It wasn't hard to imagine, at that point, the Huskies forcing a punt and then scoring again, which would make it a game again at 20-14. But Nichols stepped up.

The Beaver wideout went up high with a Husky defender draped all over him and snared a 19-yard reception. And the air went out of the Husky balloon. First down. Followed by a touchdown. Followed by a beat down.


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