Another week, another dangerous road test for the USC Trojans as they
take another trip to the
Beavers on Offense
Quarterback - #14 Derek Anderson
At 6'6" and 240 pounds, with a rocket arm and good football smarts, Derek
Anderson has everything you'd want in a college quarterback. He will end his career as the
Running Back - #29 Dwight Wright
Had Stephen Jackson returned to Oregon State to finish out his college
career, this Beaver team could have positioned itself as a major player in the
Pac-10 race, and because of the schedule, in the national championship race as
well. However, with
Wide Receivers - #28 Mike Hass, #16 Marcel Love #17 Anthony Wheat-Brown
When you move the ball through the air with the regularity of this
Tight End - #89 Joe
Joe Newton has established himself as a big part of this Beaver
attack. He ranks second on the team
in receptions and yards, with 35 receptions for 417 yards. Both of those totals put him second to
Alex Smith for Pac-10 tight ends.
Offensive Line - #61 Adam Koets, #69 Josh Linehan, #73 Matt Brock, #67 Roy Shuening, #65 Doug Nienhuis
This line has one objective at the start of every game: protect Derek
Anderson. Any holes that open up
for long runs by the Beaver tailbacks can be seen as just an added bonus. For the most part, this line has
performed admirably, as
Beavers on Defense
Defensive Line - #27 Joe Lemma, #97 Ben Siegert, #99 Sir Henry Anderson, #90 Bill Swancutt
Bill Swancutt is, without question, the anchor of this Beaver defensive line. He leads the line in just about every statistical category. His 41 tackles rank fourth on the team, while he ranks first in tackles for loss, with 11 for –55 yards, sacks, with 4.5, quarterback hits, with six, and fumbles recovered, with three. He presents arguably one of the toughest challenges for the Trojan offensive line this year. The fewer times Matt Leinart has to look up at #90, the better. The other three members of the starting defensive line have totaled only nine more tackles and 3.5 fewer sacks than Swancutt.
Linebackers - #4 Keith Ellison, #44 Trent Bray, #40 Jonathan Pollard
The linebacking trio of Keith Ellison, Trent Bray and Jonathan Pollard that the Beavers employ is strong, smart and mobile. Bray leads the team with 87 tackles and is the only non-defensive back with an interception. Pollard, Bray and Ellison have been used to put pressure in the opponent's backfield as they've combined for 20 tackles for loss and have one, two and three sacks of the quarterback respectively. However, the daunting task of containing Reggie Bush, squaring up against LenDale White and covering Dominique Byrd over the middle for sixty minutes has yet to be accomplished by any linebacker trio on the Trojans' schedule thus far, and it will be a shock if these three are able to get the job done.
Cornerbacks - #8 Aric Williams, #2
When you start talking about the defensive backfield for the Oregon State Beavers, you start talking about the strength of the team. Aric Williams and Brandon Browner are a couple of shut-down corners with size, speed and hands. Williams is a senior and has played brilliantly throughout his career with the Beavers. Last season, he earned honorable mention Pac-10 Conference honors and this year he's intercepted four passes while batting down eight. He's also shown the ability to step up and hit the ball carrier, totaling 28 tackles, good enough for fifth on the team. And after all of this, he might not even be the best cornerback on his team. Browner, only a red-shirt sophomore, stands at 6'4" and is a burner. Teams have been leery of throwing his way as his seven pass break-ups rank second only to Williams. With the amount of talent at this position, the Beavers feel confident in allowing one-on-one coverage on the outside for most of the game. If the Trojans can find ways to beat this early, it will go a long way towards shattering the Beaver spirit.
Safeties - #24 Sabby Piscitelli, #5 Mitch Meeuwsen
The strength in the defensive backfield doesn't stop with the cornerbacks. Mitch Meeuwsen, a standout senior, has been patrolling the secondary for four years. He is the all-time interceptions leader for the Beavers, and has already picked off four passes this season. Meeuwsen is a constant presence around the ball, either making tackles or breaking up passes. His 42 tackles on the season rank second on the team. Sabby Piscitelli has stepped into a starting spot in the Beaver backfield and delivered beyond all expectations. He's tied for the team lead with four interceptions and is second on the team with seven pass deflections. Because the Beaver cornerbacks are so successful at one-on-one coverage, the two safeties are able to simply sit back and read the quarterback. Matt Leinart will have to be sharp in order to keep the ball away from the Beavers' ball hawking defense.
Beavers on Special Teams
Kicker - #13 Alexis Serna
Sure, you saw Alexis Serna miss three extra points in the Beaver's opening night loss to the LSU Tigers. However, what you probably haven't seen is how this young man has been able to rebound. Since that night, Serna has missed only one kick. He has connected on eight of nine field goals and is 14 for 14 on extra points since LSU. Serna has also displayed excellent range, connecting on a field goal from 55 yards.
Punter - #35 Sam Paulescu
Sam Paulescu has punted 52 times on the year and is averaging 41.8 yards per punt. He has totaled four touchbacks and forced a fair catch on ten occasions. With #5 back there in Cardinal and Gold, the Beavers are hoping those last two numbers increase.
Kick Returner - #19 Sammie Stroughter
With the leg strength Ryan Killeen is showing this year, kickoffs to the opposing team have simply become a formality. Sammie Stroughter is averaging just over 20 yards per kickoff return and has yet to break one for over 40 yards. Don't look for that trend to change against the suddenly potent Trojan coverage unit.
This Oregon State Beaver team showed in the first game of the season that
they are capable of playing with some of the best teams in the nation. Their four losses have all come to
nationally ranked teams, and while overall, they're not on the same level as the
teams in the top 25, the Beavers have the talent to surprise some people around
the nation. However, the Trojans
are simply not a typical top 25 team.
This USC team just doesn't suffer letdowns and they aren't intimidated by
playing on the road. The Trojans
will put forth their best effort against the Beavers this Saturday, and that
will be more than enough to dispatch