In last year's Civil War, James Newson had a huge game, catching 11 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown as Oregon State pasted Oregon 45-24 in Corvallis. Linebacker Richard Seigler made five tackles and was a constant nuisance in the Oregon backfield.
Newson, thoughtful and determined, and Seigler, playful and loquacious, sat down this week with the Tribune to talk about Saturday's Civil War in Eugene.
Newson: That was a fantastic game last year against Oregon at Reser Stadium. We were pretty sure we could win, but we didn't expect to blow them out the way we did. We exposed their young defensive backs. We had experience over them, and we went out and set the tempo by going deep on them a couple of times. They have the same guys back there, but they have some experience. We know they will give us more competition.
Seigler: We aren't supposed to talk any kind of trash this week. Coach (Mike) Riley says it's OK to have fun with it, as long the talk isn't disrespectful. What I will say is, all of us in the Oregon State program Ñ the coaches, the players, our fans Ñ feel very confident. Not taking anything away from the Oregon program, because they are a great team, but we need this win, and we are very, very hungry. I can't see us going down there and losing.
Newson: We feel like we have a good chance. Our offense is clicking pretty well. If our line comes out strong and we establish the run early, we can open up the passing game.
Seigler: We know the Ducks are a good team with a balanced offense. We've been watching them all year. Their offense hasn't changed since I've been at Oregon State. They maximum-protect a lot, try to give their quarterback a lot of time to throw, and run two-man routes. Our cornerbacks have to be disciplined, but we have some ways to bust up what they want to do. Coach (Mark) Banker, our defensive coordinator, is going to scheme it very well for us.
A matter of class
Newson: It's time for us to pluck the Ducks Ñ that's what I say. I don't like them at all. It's the rival thing. I didn't know what the older guys were talking about when I first got to Oregon State. Then we would run into their players off the field, mostly during the offseason. Maybe they would be coming up to Corvallis, or we would be down in Eugene, and there was a lot of hostility. I mean, both sides would be talking mess. Once the game starts, it really is a war. I like that a lot.
Seigler: I hate the Ducks. I want to demolish them. They think they're the best team in Oregon. It's just like they're the rich neighbors you can't stand. They talk trash; they seem so uppity, like their noses are in the air. They seem more white-collar. We are more blue-collar. That's what being a Beaver is all about. And this year, we want to invite all the Duck fans to cross over to our side. It's OK for them to change and become Beaver fans. The door is open this year only, since coach Riley is back and we are in a benevolent mood. Any fan who wants to cross over, they can purchase a seat in the Raise Reser campaign and be a part of the program in the state that is rolling.
Newson: We're playing at a good level right now, but we can play better. We want to do all we can to eliminate our mistakes. We're going to be ready for our best game of the year against Oregon.
Seigler: We finish our season at USC, and that's a huge game for us, but all our focus is on Oregon. This game makes or breaks the season, as it does every year. This is really the only game that matters. It's personal. There are so many feelings involved in the state about this game. Families all over the Northwest will be watching this game, either at Autzen or on TV. I believe the weekend should be declared a state holiday. People should always get off work the Friday before the Civil War game.
Autzen on the horizon
Newson: The Ducks are good, but I would say we're better. We have what I consider the No. 1 defense in the nation. We have one of the best running backs in Steven Jackson, an up-and-coming star in Mike Hass to go with me at receiver and a guy at quarterback (Derek Anderson) who doesn't get the credit he deserves.
Seigler: We're a confident team right now. Derek has been tremendous the last couple of games, a really good sign, and he had one of the best games of his career against Oregon last year. We lost a lot of key players from our defense of a year ago, but coach Banker has pulled us together.
Newson: It will be very hard to go into Autzen Stadium and win. It's so loud in there, and the fans are packed in right next to you. But I love going into somebody else's house, where everybody is against you. We want to have all those fans down there leave the place disappointed.
Seigler: We should have beaten them in Eugene my sophomore year (a 17-14 Oregon win), but give them credit: They pulled it out. This will be one of the roughest games of the year. We will be under control. We won't get too caught up in all the emotions of the game.
Newson: I'm not going to make a prediction. I will just say I would like to score a touchdown, and I want to contribute to a win.
Seigler: You want a final score, or do you just want me to say we are going to win? Our defense is going to come out rowdy. If they try to play smashmouth football against us, it's not going to work. They're probably going to try to trick things up. If we go in there and play our game, and we don't have too many costly penalties, it's going to be ugly for the Ducks.
Ñ Kerry Eggers