Beavers cautious about opener with Vikings
CORVALLIS — Using what has become the benchmark cautionary tale for football coaches who are facing lower-division opponents, Oregon State's Mike Riley points to Appalachian State in preparing his team for today's opener against Portland State.
The Pac-10's Beavers host the Vikings of the Big Sky Conference at Reser Stadium today.
When fall camp broke, Riley referenced 2007's epic upset when Appalachian State of the Southern Conference stunned No. 5 Michigan 34-32 in the opener.
The players seem to have gotten the message.
"It's definitely a common theme when you're playing a team in a lower division. An upset is something that everyone is kind of thinking about," said Oregon State quarterback Sean Canfield. "We've seen upsets over the past couple of years around the nation."
Canfield will get the start for Oregon State while Lyle Moevao continues to rehab from offseason shoulder surgery.
Canfield, who started two games last season, threw for six touchdowns overall. Moevao, who did not progress in fall camp as quickly as expected, threw 19 touchdowns but had 13 interceptions.
The Beavers finished 9-4 and defeated Pittsburgh 3-0 in the Sun Bowl. Oregon State was ranked No. 18 to end the season.
Portland State finished 4-7 in its second season under former NFL coach Jerry Glanville. He was eager to get a read on how his team would fare against a Pac-10 opponent to start season No. 3.
"We can't wait to get down there to play them. They have a very tough combination: they have very good players and a very good coaching staff. But who else would you rather play than somebody with that combination? They have three or four guys as good as anyone in the country," he said. "That's fine. Let's go play."
The Vikings are led by quarterback Drew Hubel, who threw for 2,912 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Receiver Aaron Woods had 66 catches for 1,028 yards and six scores.
Known for their run-and-shoot offense, Portland State lost offensive coordinator Mouse Davis to retirement in the offseason.
That makes Riley nervous.
"Whatever they've done since Mouse left to tweak the offense or emphasize something else is an unknown to us," Riley said. "We have a pretty good idea of how they throw the ball and now that they're going to add to it it will be very interesting. We'll prepare for the kitchen sink and I'm sure they'll throw it at us."
Key to Oregon State's success in today's game and beyond is diminutive tailback Jacquizz Rodgers, who is returning from offseason shoulder surgery. Rodgers missed the final two games of the season because of the injury.
Quizz, as he's known, rushed for 1,253 yards, a Pac-10 record for a freshman. He also was the first freshman to be named the league's player of the year.
"This year I'm going to have a lot of long runs, that's what I focused on during the offseason, to get that breakaway speed," he said. "That is the one thing that I was missing last year.
"I feel like I can get the tough yards and get like 20 or 30 carries in a game but I need to break the long one."
Joining Quizz in making a return from injury is older brother James Rodgers, a flanker who rushed for 408 yards and five touchdowns and had 607 receiving yards with four scores last season.
The elder Rodgers broke his collarbone last season and didn't play in the bowl game.