Erickson: 'We have to get a lot better'

Dennis Erickson is accomplished enough not to get excited about a season-opening victory over Division I-AA Eastern Kentucky.

'The competition wasn't very good, to be honest with you,' Oregon State's coach says.

Erickson gave the Beavers a 'B' grade in their 49-10 victory:

'We did a lot of good things. We were able to make some big plays. We have to get a lot better.'

The best news was the solid showing of the offensive line and the saucy debut of quarterback Derek Anderson.

From the first play Ñ an on-the-money 50-yard strike to Jayson Boyd that was dropped Ñ Anderson showed poise and uncanny accuracy for a sophomore starting his first game.

'Derek threw the long ball well and, for the most part, read things really well,' Erickson says. 'He missed some short throws, but he made some extraordinary passes.'

The 6-foot-6, 235-pound sophomore from Scappoose showed what he can do when he doesn't have Eric Manning, Richard Seigler and the rest of the Beaver defense in his face.

'I don't know if Derek was nervous at all,' says his roommate, defensive end Bill Swancutt. 'I think he was more excited than anything. He doesn't show his emotions much. I was surprised.'

nÊAs a backup to senior Jonathan Smith last season, Anderson threw only 41 passes. In a couple of years, will Erickson regret not redshirting him?

'Not really,' he says. 'We needed him in case Jonathan got hurt. The preparation helped him get ready for this year. And you never know if he will be around here for four years.'

Translation: Anderson may progress enough to interest NFL scouts after his junior season.

Incidentally, the young QB throws the football right-handed but writes and eats left-handed.

'Always have done that,' he says. 'I can throw (left-handed), but not very well.'

Reminds one of another Beaver signal-caller, Terry Baker, who threw the football left-handed but was a right-handed pitcher in baseball.

nÊIt was a promising beginning for an OSU offense that had six players making their first career starts. Running back Steven Jackson and his waterbug-quick backup, Dwight Wright, combined for 218 yards and four TDs. Eight receivers caught passes, led by Kenny Farley, a 6-3, 230-pound junior who had four for 149 yards, including an 80-yard score.

'We moved Kenny inside (to slotback) in the spring,' Erickson says. 'With his speed, his size makes a difference. And Boyd was a pleasant surprise. Last year, we had one big-play guy in James (Newson). Now we have three or even four, if you include Deondre Alexander.'

The arsenal of weapons has Erickson dreaming. He coached national championship teams at Miami in 1989 and '91, but he says his 2000 OSU squad might have been 'the best offensive team I have had' in 17 years as a college head coach.

And the 2002 Beavers?

'They haven't been tested yet,' Erickson says. 'But it might develop into the most explosive offense I have ever had.'

NOTES: Eastern Kentucky coach Roy Kidd says the Beavers could be a top 15 team. 'I didn't think we could match up with their receivers Ñ they're tall kids who can run,' he says. 'They've got the weapons offensively, and their defense pursues well. I'd be surprised if they're not in the picture in the Pac-10, if they can get their quarterback some protection. They need to quit making those penalties, though. That's going to hurt them against a good team.'

Junior Kirk Yliniemi, a walk-on from Monmouth, stepped up in camp to beat out senior Ryan Cesca for the place-kicking job. 'He made 90 percent (in camp). That is really what won him the job,' Erickson says. 'He has just been more consistent than Ryan, particularly within 40 yards.'

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