Washington State at Oregon State
When, where: 4 p.m. Saturday, Reser Stadium
TV, radio: FSN Northwest, KEX (1190 AM)
• Matt Moore played his best game of the season last week, completing his first seven passes and finishing 18-of-27 for 157 yards with no interceptions against Cal. But the 6-4, 195-pound senior still hasn't found the groove his coaches are hoping for.
'Matt made some good plays and missed some big ones,' coach Mike Riley says. 'He missed some opportunities, especially on third down, that hurt. But he wasn't the reason we lost that game. There were a couple of times when he was in position to make a throw and somebody just missed a block. And our defense gave up too many big plays, a lot of them on third-and-long.'
Moore has connected on 53 of 89 passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Backup Sean Canfield is 27-of-37 for 334 yards and two TDs with one pick.
'Sean has done a nice job,' Riley says. 'For a redshirt freshman, he has exceeded my expectations. He's gotten better. He has a strong arm and can snap the ball quickly out of his hand. It's hard for a defense to get to a guy like that.'
Moore will start Saturday, but Canfield will get scripted duty, probably in the second quarter. Riley had planned on that against Cal but stayed with Moore because of his quick start. Canfield played the entire fourth quarter.
'We had moved the ball in the first quarter. The way the game was going, I didn't want to disrupt that,' Riley says.
Riley has been through a similar situation once before, as head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League in 1990. He stuck with starter Tom Burgess over promising backup Danny McManus; the Bombers went on to win the Grey Cup.
Moore, incidentally, has handled his situation with class. He has gone out of his way to compliment Canfield several times in media interviews after games this season.
• Field position was as much a problem for Oregon State against Cal as it had been for Idaho in the Beavers' 38-0 win over the Vandals. The Beavers' first four possessions started inside their own 20-yard line. The OSU offense moved the ball into Cal territory twice and on a third time got to the Beaver 49, but came away with only three points.
'When you start deep in your territory, you have to execute for a long time to get into scoring range,' Riley says. 'That really made it hard for our offense against a good defense like Cal's.'
nSenior tight end Joe Newton, who said before the season the 2006 team had the chance to be the best he has played on at Oregon State, isn't backing away from that statement. 'No way I'm ready to say that's not true,' Newton says. 'We're going to keep fighting every single week.' And Newton isn't blaming the defense for making Cal's offense look like the Indianapolis Colts. 'We're a team,' Newton says. 'We have to put points up on the board to win. If we have to better the opponents' offense output with a bundle of points, so be it.'
• Riley says there is some misconception about his policy concerning personal fouls. If an OSU player sustains a personal foul, he isn't automatically removed from the game. 'I've had the same policy since I became a head coach, so it's nothing different,' he says. 'A stupid, unnecessary penalty and the player is out, but it's a case-by-case deal. If it's a bad call, we have to use some discretion.'
• Offensive tackle Josh Linehan is expected to be out four weeks after arthroscopic knee surgery last Thursday. OSU coaches hope he will return Oct. 28 against Southern Cal. Sophomore Andy Levitre did well filling in for Linehan against Cal. If another Beaver lineman goes down to injury, the next reserve in line coach Mike Cavanaugh's pecking order is Tavita Thompson, a 6-6, 320-pound sophomore tackle.
• Sammie Stroughter leads the nation with a 22.9-yard average on eight punt returns. … Tailback Yvenson Bernard, who ranks fourth in the Pac-10 in rushing with 404 yards and five TDs, is ninth on the OSU career rushing list with 1,745 yards. Next to catch: Ken Carpenter, 1,910 yards (1946-49). … Moore is sixth on the school career passing list with 3,270 yards. Next to catch: Ed Singler, 3,399 (1979-82).