Pac-10 Season Preview - Oregon State


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Before the season, I had Oregon State ranked seventh in the Pac-10. I am still not much more of a fan of the Beavers than I was before. Mike Riley is in his second tour of duty as their coach, and he hasn’t been especially effective either time.

It looked as if this program would turn a corner in 2001, coming off a 10-1 season and a complete dismantling of an overmatched Notre Dame team in the Fiesta Bowl. But it wasn’t to be. Dennis Erickson had done it that season with a number of players Riley brought in, but the next season Oregon State was back in the middle of the Pac-10. Soon after, Riley was out of the NFL, his meteoric rise from USC assistant to NFL head man checked. Riley was soon back with the Beavers.

Things haven’t gotten a whole lot better for him lately. Right now, there is a strong movement underway to “Can Riley" at Oregon State. Will he be the latest in a long line of young coaches who move up to the head job, can’t get it done, and then find their way back as a permanent assistant? That, of course, isn’t up to us, but rather to the Beavers’ athletic department and faithful.

For now, Riley has a little bit of a quarterback controversy going. He’s got a decent starter in Matt Moore, one who started his career at UCLA and moved on to OSU when it became apparent he wouldn’t be a star with the Bruins. But now Moore, even though he’s been a solid starter for the Corvallis eleven, is on the hot seat. Young gun Sean Canfield is in the mix, and has been told to be at the ready just in case Moore falters. That’s not exactly the best way to engender support for the incumbent.

Moore has some tools. He’s got exciting WR-KR Sammie Stroughter, who can get a ton done with his feet and has some nice hands. He’s also got RB Yvenson Bernard, who is in the Steven Jackson mold. Bernard had a great season last year and is averaging nearly 5 ypc this season. From the looks of it prior to the season, the Beavers would be competitive.

But their offense has been anemic. The D, led by linebackers Alan Darlin and Joey LaRocque, has been good; they held Washington State to just 13 points last week. But it’s hard when the offense musters only six points.

For all of the work Mike Riley has done in bringing in solid offensive players, this team just has looked dysfunctional on offense. Five games in, and with wins over only Eastern Washington and Idaho, this team is still in the bottom half of the Pac-10. And with a tough road the rest of the way (with the exception of a game against a horrible Stanford team), I don’t see it getting much better for the Beavers.

Lenny Del Genio is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at


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