Injuries leave Beavers thin at quarterback
Freshman Anton Clarkson may be needed
The name Anton Clarkson doesn't mean a lot to all but the most ardent of Oregon State football fans.
But it's not out of the realm of possibility that he will be at quarterback when the Beavers face Stanford on Saturday.
Starting QB Derek Anderson sprained his left ankle in the final minute of Saturday's 41-29 loss at Washington Ñ thank Husky linebacker Ben Mahdavi's face-mask tackle for that. Back-up Adam Rothenfluh sprained his right thumb on the first play in relief when his hand hit a helmet as he followed through on a pass.
X-rays were negative, and both players said they expect to play against the Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. OSU coaches entered the week hopeful that each would be available.
Coach Dennis Erickson hopes to redshirt Clarkson, a freshman, this season. Clarkson is quarterback of the scout team, running the opponent's offense against the OSU defense each week in practice.
Anderson gets about two-thirds of the offensive snaps during practice, Rothenfluh the other third. Clarkson? 'You don't even see the guy,' Erickson says.
Clarkson's father, Steve, played quarterback when Erickson was offensive coordinator at San Jose State from 1979-81. The older Clarkson runs a school for quarterbacks called 'Air 7.'
Anton Clarkson threw for more than 6,000 yards and 68 touchdowns in two seasons (1999 and 2000) for Venice High in Los Angeles. A transcript error prevented him from getting his diploma until the next year.
'I was recruiting another kid at a JC, and I happened to run into him,' Erickson says. 'His dad called me, and we signed him.'
Clarkson, 6-2 and 205, is more mobile than Anderson and Rothenfluh, 'and he probably has the strongest arm on the team,' Erickson says.
But Clarkson has zero college experience. He will get some repetitions during practice this week. Erickson hopes that it's an insurance policy he doesn't have to cash in.
Erickson has experience with his sort of thing. In 1996, his second season as coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Erickson went through a string of quarterbacks because of injuries. First, John Friesz went down. Then backup Rick Mirer. Only Stan Gelbaugh was left, so Erickson signed free agent Gino Torretta, who had won the Heisman Trophy playing for him at the University of Miami.
It was the final game of the season, against Oakland. On the first play from scrimmage, Gelbaugh got hurt. Enter Torretta, who
hadn't had time to learn the offensive system.
'I'm calling plays, and I have to translate everything into what we would have done at Miami,' Erickson says, chuckling. 'And somehow, we won (28-21).'
Were Clarkson pressed into action, Erickson would simplify the offense and hope that the Beavers could use superior talent on both sides of the ball to beat the Cardinal.
'I don't think it will get to that,' Erickson says.
NOTES: Erickson, on OSU's 0-7 record in Pac-10 road games the last two seasons: 'It's disturbing. I don't have an answer for it. It's very frustrating.' É
Erickson, on what's left for the Beavers this season: 'We are a good team but not a great team right now. We have to get a seventh win, and we will probably go to a bowl game. The Stanford game is huge for us.' É The OSU defense played well in Seattle, but third-down penalties kept a scoring drive alive for Washington in the third quarter. The Huskies also drove 80 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, the first TD the OSU defense has yielded in the first quarter all season. É Says defensive end Noah Happe: 'Thing is, their defense got five turnovers, and we got none. That's on us.' É Much was made of Richard Seigler's disparaging comments about the Huskies last week, but the junior linebacker backed it up with 17 tackles. É Kirk Yliniemi was 3 for 3 on field-goal attempts against Washington, including a career-best 50-yarder, and is 9 for 10 this season. His failed extra point in the second quarter was the first miss by an OSU kicker in 77 attempts. Yliniemi was kicking from the 35-yard line after a celebration penalty against Steven Jackson.