Happy Riley looks ahead
OSU has a lot to play for, including a better bowl, coach says
If Mike Riley were a pessimist, he would look back at the Washington game and say this: 'If only we had beaten the Huskies, we would be 7-2 overall, 4-1 in Pac-10 play, ranked in the nation's top 20 and in the thick of the conference championship race.'
The Oregon State coach is a bit of an optimist, so he figures his Beavers (6-3, 3-2 Pac-10) have much to achieve in the season's final three games. OSU is at home against Stanford on Nov. 15 and has road games at Oregon on Nov. 22 and Southern Cal on Dec. 6.
'We can't worry about what we haven't accomplished,' Riley says. 'We have so much to play for. I really like our players, how hard they work and what they have done so far. We still have a chance to make this a season to remember.'
A victory over Stanford would ensure a bowl appearance. Two wins would mean at least an 8-4 regular-season mark and a better bowl berth.
'I know, everybody says SC is playing real tough, and they are,' quarterback Derek Anderson says. 'Not to look too far ahead, but if we win three in a row going down there, we will have good momentum. We want to do what we can with the rest of the season and see what happens.'
The Beavers have Saturday off. The same could be said about last weekend, when they punished Arizona 52-23 in a game that could have been just about any final score Riley desired. After tailback Steven Jackson scored to give Oregon State a 52-7 lead with 5:05 remaining in the third quarter, the OSU coach turned the game over to the reserves.
Longtime observers are calling Arizona, 1-8, the worst Pac-10 team since Jerry Pettibone's first OSU team in 1992. The Beavers went 1-10 that season, beating Oregon 14-3 in the Civil War after starting the season 0-10.
Oregon State's first-team offense pummeled Arizona's defense. The Wildcats stacked the middle to control Jackson, holding the All-America candidate to 107 hard-earned yards on 28 carries.
But focusing on Jackson opened up the passing game, and Anderson was as sharp as he's been all year, completing 21 of 32 passes for 308 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. He wasn't pressured much, getting nice protection from OSU's offensive line.
The Wildcats 'only hit me three times in the game and got one little sack in the beginning, when they brought everything they had,' Anderson says.
'I'm not going to put them down, but we had guys open in the secondary all day,' he says. 'They bit on play-action hard. The guys ran firm routes. My job is to get the ball to them. I missed a few throws, throws I know I can make, but overall I'm happy with my performance.'
Riley was pleased with Anderson, who leads the Pac-10 and ranks 16th in the nation in total offense at 281.3 yards per game. The 6-6, 235-pound junior from Scappoose has completed 159 of 324 passes (.491) for 2,597 yards and 15 TDs.
Anderson also has thrown 16 interceptions Ñ tied with Texas Tech's B.J. Symons for the nation's lead Ñ but has attempted more passes than all but 10 quarterbacks in the country.
'Derek played really well against Arizona,' Riley says. 'Gosh, he can throw the ball. He really is a beautiful passer. A penalty on the first series took away one big gainer (a 46-yard TD to James Newson) or he would have had even bigger numbers. That arm is a great weapon for us.'
There were only two things to complain about Ñ Jackson had little room to run, and the Beavers were penalized 17 times for 141 yards. Oregon State remains second in the nation behind Washington State in number of penalties and first in average penalty yardage (117.6 per game).