Players to Know
Matt Moore, QB: Moore has been statistically sound but has been unable to move the offense in the big games. He still loses his accuracy under pressure and cannot throw on the run. He's done a better job eliminating interceptions, but he is also utilizing screens and dump-off passes a lot more. Backup Sean Canfield has been statistically superior in limited action and fans will scream for him to take over if the Beavers struggle.
Yvenson Bernard, RB: Right down to the dread locks, Bernard is bit of a clone of Steven Jackson. He has 404 rushing yards and five touchdowns in the first four games. He is also a decent receiving target out of the backfield, but lacks that second gear. Against Cal he suffered a minor knee sprain but isn't expected to miss this weekends game.
Joe Newton, TE: Newton is one of the best tight ends in the country and Moore's favorite target. Consistent and reliable, especially in the red zone, Newton will likely get plenty of looks against the Cougs.
| Cougars (3-2) vs Beavers (2-2)|
AT A GLANCE
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Oregon State's spread offense features a veteran line and plenty of weapons at the skill positions. They're averaging over 30 points per game but haven't scored more than 14 against anybody with a pulse. Production has been sporadic and they've lacked in big plays. Receiver Sammie Stroughter has the speed to open things up deep, but he's been used more in shorter routes. The weakness appears to be coordination more than talent.
Contain the short passes and pressure Moore. Bernard will get a fair amount of yardage but will be removed from the game plan if the Cougar offense starts putting up points. Watch out for the dump offs to Newton if Moore is forced outside the pocket and screen passes when the Cougs show blitz. The Beavers often open games with aggressive downfield play calls but tend to get more conservative as the game goes on. Weather the early storm.
THE BEAVERS ON DEFENSE
Players to Know
Sabby Piscitelli, SS: A sound defender and an excellent ball hawk. He has three picks already this year and 15 for his career. At times he seems like the only bright spot on a shaky defense.
The Beavers 4-3 has been one of the conference's most consistently dependable defenses since 2000. But sound offenses have found plenty of holes to exploit this year. Boise State and California put up a combined 83 points on them. The Broncos ran over the Beavers for over 300 rushing yards, while the Bears torched them with over 300 passing yards. They appear to be losing some of the speed that was always the trademark of Erickson recruiting, but inexperience is also to blame. Pass rushing has been lousy and the linebackers have looked lost in pass coverage duties.
Brink threw for a school record 531 yards in last years game and all indications are that OSU's pass defense has gotten worse. He should be able to throw the ball at will, but the key will be avoiding the interceptions that cost WSU last year's game. With OSU's concerns about their pass defense, he'll likely see plenty of nickel packages. Audibles to running plays could be effective.
THE BEAVERS ON SPECIAL TEAM
Alexis Serna won the Groza award last year and has converted from as far as 58 yards. Punter Kyle Loomis has been somewhat weak, averaging just over 37 yards, but has been improving. Punt returner Sammie Stroughter is a game breaker and already has two returns for touchdowns this year.
Out - Fevaea'i Ahmu (9/30 stress fracture), Chris Baltzer (9/20 knee ACL), Chris Jordan (9/22 knee surgery), Andy Mattingly (9/30 concussion), Matt Mullennix (9/6 ACL surgery), Jason Stripling (shoulder surgery recovery)
Questionable – Bobby Byrd (9/16 knee MCL sprain), Markus Dawes (9/2 high ankle sprain), Josh Duin (9/23 knee MCL), Scott Friberg (8/22 hip/knee sprain), Chris Ivory (9/23 hamstring strain), Ansley Jean-Jacques (9/9 thumb surgery), Aaron Johnson (9/27 low back disc bulge), Jesse Taylor (9/16 knee MCL sprain), Michael Willis (9/30 shoulder sprain)
Out – Josh Linehan (RT)
Doubtful – None listed
Probable – Jeremy Perry (LG), Yvenson Bernard (RB)
Coach Mike Riley traditionally rallies his troops well, so expect the Beavers to put up a good fight. Then again, after getting killed by Boise State, the Beavers basically had two weeks to prep for California and that game was over before halftime -- OSU was stale on offense and helpless on defense. The Beavs are capable of putting points on the board when they get rolling, but they must be concerned about how easily Cal was able to score against them. WSU should feel free to use their entire playbook against them and keep piling it on if a weakness opens up. When OSU loses ballgames, it's usually in a rout.