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Anderson tosses his answer

OSU quarterback lets his Pac-10-leading passing yardage speak for itself

Las Vegas Ñ Derek Anderson has been a lightning rod for criticism all season. And there were times when Oregon State's junior quarterback, who leads the nation in interceptions with 23, deserved it.

But consider this: His Pacific-10 Conference-leading passing yardage of 3,736 ranks seventh on the conference's all-time single-season list. And with 263 yards against New Mexico, he would pass Washington's Ryan Leaf (3,968 in 1998) and move into second behind Washington's Cody Pickett (4,458 in 2002).

Though Anderson has the benefit of playing one more game than many of the league's past QBs, the stats are still impressive.

In his last four games, the 6-6, 235-pound right-hander completed 102 of 185 passes for 1,447 yards and 11 touchdowns, with seven interceptions Ñmore than 360 yards per game.

Anderson shredded one of the best defenses in the country for a school-record 485 yards against USC.

'And that was after throwing for 80 yards against (the Trojans) last season,' coach Mike Riley says. 'He got hit, he took a lot of punishment.'

Riley says Anderson would have had 'well over 500 yards' if his receivers had made 'a couple of catches they should have.'

Anderson struggled early with the difference in terminology between his offense and that of his predecessor, Dennis Erickson.

'But he's worked very hard,' Riley says, 'and he's had a tremendous last month of the season. His position and my position are the two that will get criticized the most. I'm saying the last few weeks, he doesn't deserve it. With all the things being said about him, he went about his business, focused on what he had to do and has gotten better.

'Yeah, he would like to have a few of his throws back, but he's done a better job of reading coverage and finding secondary receivers and making plays, and now he's on the verge of a 4,000-yard passing season.'

Riley says he's 'really looking forward to working with Derek this spring in preparation for next fall. I think he will be an all-conference quarterback next year.'

Notes

Anderson has surpassed the school records he set as a sophomore in passing yardage (3,736 to 3,313) and total offense (3,614 to 3,082). He has thrown for 22 TDs after setting the school record of 25 in 2002. He ranks sixth in the nation in passing yards. With 23 interceptions, he is two ahead of Texas Tech's B.J. Symons and Mississippi State's Kevin Fant. É With ex-Beavers James Allen (New Orleans) and Nick Barnett (Green Bay) in the NFL and Richard Seigler headed there next season, 'I guess you could call Oregon State 'Linebacker U,' ' Riley says.