OSU looks to bounce back after two losses
Dennis Erickson's mantra this week to his Oregon State players speaks to his 30-plus years in coaching:
The Beavers are somewhat crestfallen after two weeks of disappointment against the Los Angeles schools Ñ a 22-0 shutout at Southern California followed by Saturday's 43-35 loss to UCLA at Reser Stadium.
'I have been through this kind of thing a few times,' says Erickson, who has had only one three-game losing streak in four seasons at OSU. That came midway through his first season in 1999, when the Beavers lost to USC, Washington and Stanford before reeling off a four-game win streak.
'We just have to play ourselves through this,' he says. 'When you get in these situations, you hang together, get a win and all of a sudden, good things can happen.'
Oregon State will visit Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night, the scene of a 41-24 OSU loss last season. The Beavers led 24-20 going into the fourth quarter, only to have the Sun Devils storm from behind to win going away.
ASU likes to put the ball in the air. The Sun Devils are similar to the Beavers in some respects. Their quarterback is 6-5, 220-pound sophomore Andrew Walter, who has thrown for 888 yards the last two weeks against Stanford and North Carolina.
'They fling it up,' Erickson says. 'They have some really skilled guys, and that quarterback is playing real well. To beat them we have to find a way to score points, because they are going to.'
You also might see OSU running back Steven Jackson more active in swing pass routes. The Beavers need to get him more touches than 15 a game, whatever way they can.
TEAM GAME: The Bruin offense rolled all game long Saturday.
'We underestimated them,' OSU linebacker Richard Seigler says. 'We felt we could come out and dominate them. It surprised us how they picked apart our defense and executed on every single play.'
Part of the problem was the offense's ineffectiveness, which left the OSU defense on the field for much of the first half. UCLA scored 31 points in the second half, a testament to the Beaver defense's fatigue as much as anything.
Even so, it was OSU's worst defensive performance of the season by far Ñ not a good sign at this point in the season.
'UCLA was a lot more physical on both sides of the ball than you could see on film,' Erickson says. 'We all need to take a hit for this loss, including me, probably more than anybody.'
NOTES: With the offensive line, there isn't a lot assistant coach Gregg Smith can do except work with the group he has and hope it gets better. Injuries to tackles Brian Kilkenny and Lee Davis have left the line thin. Senior Mike Kuykendall, who moved from guard to tackle, and junior David Lose, who got his first career start at guard, did OK, but it wasn't enough to cause the OSU offense to win the battle of the trenches. Kilkenny, who injured a knee in the Fresno State game, might return for the Oct. 26 California game. Davis could be lost for the season, Erickson says.
Erickson expects sophomore safety Mitch Meeuwsen to miss a month after suffering a medial collateral ligament knee injury against UCLA. 'It hurts, because he kind of holds the secondary together,' the coach says. É OSU is redshirting three veterans: wide receivers Deondre Alexander, a transfer from Palomar (Calif.) JC; sophomore Josh Hawkins, who caught six passes and returned 33 punts as a true freshman last season; and offensive tackle Brandon Lockheart, a 6-7, 330-pound transfer from Santa Monica (Calif.) JC.
Oregon State, which went into the UCLA game leading the Pac-10 in penalties (118.8 yards per game), had only two for 25 yards.