2007 Oregon State Beavers

Posted Dec 31, 2007

2007 Oregon State Beavers Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2007 Oregon State Beavers

Recap: The Beavers might have had the quietest nine wins of the season, rebounding from a ragged start to go 7-1, including a Civil War win over Oregon and an Emerald Bowl victory against Maryland.  Oregon State labored all year to find an effective, mistake-free quarterback, often leaning on the legs of RB Yvenson Bernard and an aggressive, veteran defense that led the Pac-10 in run defense and turnovers gained, and was No. 2 in sacks.  While others in the league received substantially more media attention, the Beavers finished just a game out of first place, quite an achievement for a school that was earmarked for the middle of the pack.    

Offensive Player of the Year: RB Yvenson Bernard

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Derrick Doggett

Biggest Surprise: The Beavers' Oct. 13 upset of No. 2 Cal was the spark that set off their torrid finish to the season.  With the Bears staring at a No. 1 ranking with a win, Oregon State got a workmanlike effort from Bernard and a break when Cal QB Kevin Riley allowed the clock expire before Jordan Kay could attempt the game-tying field goal. 

Biggest Disappointment: Sammie Stroughter.  Oregon State's All-American wide receiver and return man was never right in 2007, missing time early for personal reasons and then bruising his kidney after returning.  In an offense that sorely needed his leadership and playmaking ability, he wound up catching just 15 passes in three games of action.

Looking Ahead: Without Bernard and most of that sturdy front seven, Oregon State could get off to a slow start again in 2008.  After a disappointing first season as a starter, it's incumbent upon QB Sean Canfield to develop into the player that was so coveted coming out of high school

- 2007 OSU Preview 
2006 OSU Season

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 9-4

Aug. 30 Utah W 24-7
Sept. 6 at Cincinnati L 34-3
Sept. 15 Idaho State W 61-10
Sept. 22 at Arizona St L 44-32
Sept. 29
UCLA L 40-14
Oct. 6 Arizona W 31-16
Oct. 13 at California W 31-28
Oct. 27
Stanford W 23-6
Nov. 3 at USC L 24-3
Nov. 10
Washington W 29-23
Nov. 17 at Wash St W 52-17
Dec. 1 at Oregon W 38-31 OT
Emerald Bowl
Dec. 28 Maryland W 21-14

Dec. 28
2007 Emerald Bowl
Oregon State 21 ... Maryland 14

Oregon State outrushed Maryland 275 yards to 19 as the offense
held on to the ball for over 18 minutes in the second half and for 10:25 in the fourth quarter, while the defense came up with stop after stop. The Terp attack only converted two of 11 third down chances and got 11 first downs, but it held a 14-7 lead after the first quarter on a nine-yard Isaiah Williams scoring grab and a 63-yard Darrius Heyward-Bey touchdown catch. Yvenson Bernard, James Rodgers and the Beaver running game proved to be too much for the Terps to deal with as Bernard pounded his way inside and out, and Rodgers took end around after end around for big gains. Bernard ran for a two-yard score late in the first half and appeared to be on his way in for a third quarter score, but he fumbled, Rodgers recovered in the end zone, and the Beavers had the lead for good. Rodgers also caught a 14-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
Offensive Player of the Game: Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard ran 38 times for 177 yards and a touchdown & WR James Rodgers ran ten times for 115 yards and a touchdown and caught five passes for 40 yards and a score
Defensive Player of the Game: Oregon State LB Derrick Doggett made eight tackles and a sack
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 8-14, 68 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 38-177, 1 TD. Receiving: James Rodgers, 5-40, 1 TD
Maryland - Passing: Chris Turner, 17-29, 205 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT
Keon Lattimore, 7-16. Receiving: Darrius Heyward-Bey, 3-99, 1 TD

Thoughts & Notes ...
Oregon State beat Maryland despite average quarterback play from both Sean Canfield and Lyle Moeavo. To be fair, the offensive line that did a tremendous job for the running game was blown past in pass protection, but the quarterbacks didn't do anything special. That Maryland could sell out against the run and still couldn't stop Yvenson Bernard and James Rodgers showed how tough things were for the defensive front. ... Where was the Maryland running game? The setup was there with big pass plays early on to open things up, but it didn't happen. The Beaver defensive line was dominant, Derrick Doggett led a linebacking corps that cleaned everything up, and the secondary was tight after the first quarter. Bernard and Rodgers will get the headlines, but the defense more than did its job.

Dec. 1
Oregon State 38 ... Oregon 31 2OT
After the two teams traded field goals in the first overtime, James Rogers ran for a 25-yard touchdown to give the Beavers the lead in the second overtime, and then the defense came through with a stop, stuffing Jonathan Stewart on fourth and one on the 16, to get the win. Each defense scored, with Jairus Byrd returning a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half, and Derrick Doggett returning an interception 28 yard for a second quarter Beaver score. Matt Sieverson carried the Beavers with 142 yards and a 38-yard touchdown, while Clinton Polk and Lyle Moevao each ran for one-yard scores for OSU.
Player of the game: Oregon State LB Derrick Doggett made 14.5 tackles and took an interception for a score
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Lyle Moevao, 20-37, 245 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Matt Sieverson, 27-142, 1 TD. Receiving: Brandon Powers, 5-80
Oregon - Passing: Justin Roper, 13-25, 144 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Jonathan Stewart, 39-163. Receiving:
Jeffrey Maehl, 4-86, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
With the tremendous run of six wins in the final seven games, topped off by a road win in the Civil War, OSU finishes up its season as the third best team in the Pac 10 in what turned out to be a fantastic season. The defense didn't stuff the Duck offense, but it did what it kept control of the game with the momentum was shifting the other way. Oregon fans will point to the absence of both Dennis Dixon and Brady Leaf for the loss, but don't diminish what missing Yvenson Bernard did for the Beavers.

Nov. 17
Oregon State 52 ... Washington State 17
Oregon State came up with seven interceptions including six of Alex Brink on the way to a blowout win. The Beavers got up 21-0 early on touchdown runs from Lyle Moevao, Yvenson Bernard, and James Rogers before the Cougars finally got on the scoreboard with a  field goal. The Beavers coasted from there getting a second Bernard touchdown run and a 56-yards Clinton Polk scoring dash. Wazzu was able to get into the end zone on two Kevin McCall runs, but they were hardly enough to make up for all the offensive mistakes.
Player of the game: Oregon State LB Derrick Doggett made four tackles, a tackle for loss, and two interceptions
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Lyle Moevao, 15-28, 202 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 17-74, 2 TD. Receiving: James Rodgers, 5-65
Washington State - Passing: Alex Brink, 21-45, 314 yds, 6 INT
Kevin McCall, 14-62, 2 TD. Receiving: Michael Bumpus, 6-46

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The Beavers are quietly putting together a strong second half of the year with five wins in the last six games. They were able to force several Washington State mistakes, got touchdowns instead of field goals, unlike last week against Washington, and now is assured of a bowl game going into the Civil War against Oregon. Having a healthy Yvenson Bernard is vital, but he tweaked a knee against the Cougars. Lyle Moevao has been fine stepping in at quarterback, but he's not ready to carry the entire attack.

Nov. 10
Oregon State 29 ... Washington 23
In a strange, scary game, Oregon State got five field goals from Alexis Serna and a blocked punt return for a score on the way to a 26-10 lead. But Washington, who saw star QB Jake Locker get taken off the field on an ambulance, but was later released from the hospital, roared back as Carl Bonnell bombed away with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Russo and a 86-yard play to Cody Ellis to pull within six. That would be as close as the Dawgs would get with a final drive halted by an misfire on the OSU 29. UW converted just one of 14 third down chances, and none of its four fourth down attempts.
Player of the game: Oregon State PK Alexis Serna connected on field goals from 51, 34, 43, 30 and 28 yards out
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Lyle Moevao, 10-22, 109 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 36-149. Receiving: Yvenson Bernard, 3-26
Washington - Passing: Carl Bonnell, 10-25, 233 yds, 2 TD
Louis Rankin, 20-60. Receiving:
Anthony Russo, 4-83, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Oregon State might be bowl eligible, but it had to claw its way against Washington to get there. The good news was Alexis Serna was on, hitting all five of his field goal attempts. The bad news was that Serna had five field goal attempts. OSU could've closed out Washington early on, but couldn't punch it in on several drives and had to settle for three. To win on the road at Washington State next week and to have a shot against Oregon, the Beavers will have to take advantage of every opportunity.

Nov. 3
USC 24 ... Oregon State 3
USC came up with nine sacks and held Oregon State's offense to 176 yards in the easy win. The USC offense didn't exactly explode, but it got the it needed in the second with 21 points on Chauncey Washington rushing touchdowns of one and 26 yards, and John David Booty, who returned from an injury, connected with Patrick Turner for a 13-yard score. Oregon State's only points came on a 22-yard Alexis Serna field goal to start the second quarter. OSU converted just three of 17 third down chances.
Player of the game: USC DE Everson Griffen made six tackles, three sacks, and forced a fumble.
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 11-25, 85 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: James Rogers, 3-48. Receiving: Anthony Brown, 3-22
USC - Passing: John David Booty, 19-33, 157 yds, 2 TD
Chauncey Washington, 12-60, 1 TD. Receiving: Vidal Hazelton, 5-53

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
The offensive line had a rough day against a USC defense cranked up to get into the backfield. With no Sammie Stroughter and no Yvenson Bernard, the Beavers had no offensive punch, while Sean Canfield is hardly a playmaking quarterback who can make everyone around him better against a D like USC's. Moving the chains has to be the key, while hoping for the defense to control games down the stretch. Washington and Washington State are winnable games, but the offense has to find some pop to pull them off.

Oct. 27
Oregon State 23 ... Stanford 6
Stanford's defense came up with six sacks, but Oregon State came up with five of its own, holding the Cardinal to -8 rushing yards and forcing four turnovers. The Beaver offense got a two-yard Yvenson Bernard touchdown run and a two-yard Howard Croom scoring catch for a 14-0 lead, and Alexis Serna put it away with three second half field goals. The Cardinal was only able to manufacture Derek Belch field goals from 44 and 43 yards out.
Player of the game: Oregon State LB Joey LaRocque made eight tackles with a sack and two tackles for loss
Stat Leaders: Stanford - Passing: Tavita Pritchard, 16-32, 189 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Jeremy Stewart, 7-16. Receiving: Ben Ladner, 5-32
Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 14-21, 142 yds, 1 TD
Matthew Sieverson, 16-68. Receiving: Darrell Catchings, 6-51

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Stanford was punchless, but that overshadowed the problems with the Oregon State offense. It was balanced, but it didn't get nearly enough from from the passing game and struggled too much on third downs. However, when you hold on to the ball for 36:09, and 12:50 in the fourth, you're doing something right. The pass rush has been dominant, and it'll need to keep it rolling against USC next week.

Oct. 13
Oregon State 31 ... California 28
Down ten in the final minutes, the Bears came up with a thriller of an ending as Lavelle Hawkins took a Kevin Riley pass 64 yards for a touchdown to pull within three, and after the D held, they got the ball on their own six with 1:27 to play. Riley almost got sacked for a safety, and almost got stopped several other times on the drive, but he got the ball deep into OSU territory helped by a 37-yard pass to Robert Jordan and a pass interference call to get it down to the 12. But with no timeouts left, Riley tried to run, got stopped at the eight, and time ran out. It was a see-saw game for the first 50 minutes, highlighted by a ten-yard Hawkins touchdown catch, and for Oregon State, field goals from 22, 52 and 33 yards out and two one-yard Yvenson Bernard touchdown runs.
Player of the game: Oregon State LB Alan Darlin made 14 tackles, one sack, and forced and recovered a fumble
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 18-33, 186 yds
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 18-33, 186 yds. Receiving: Yvenson Bernard, 8-53
Cal - Passing: Kevin Riley, 20-34, 294 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Justin Forsett, 28-150, 1 TD. Receiving: Lavelle Hawkins, 9-192, 2 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Isn't it amazing what the team can do when it gets decent, mistake-free quarterback play? The Beavers turned their season around with the win over California, and while they got a break with Kevin Riley in for an injured Nate Longshore under center for the Bears, they also earned their way to the win with great play for about 50 minutes. Now the key will be consistency. Can QB Sean Canfield be error-free again? Can the defensive line continue to generate consistent pressure? With Stanford up next in two week, 5-3 is a must going into the USC showdown.

Oct. 6
Oregon State 31 ... Arizona 16
Oregon State got two first quarter touchdown runs from Yvenson Bernard, with the second run, from nine yards out, followed up by a 49-yard interception return for a score from Joey LaRocque 15 seconds later. A Bernard six-yard scoring catch early in the second made it 31-3, and the Beavers cruised from there. The Wildcats finally got in the end zone on a 60-yard Antoine Cason interception return for a score, but only managed 231 yards of total offense and got three Jason Bondzio field goals.
Player of the game: Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries, and added five catches for 24 yards and another score.
Stat Leaders: Arizona - Passing: Willie Tuitama, 18-38, 222 yds, 3 INTs
Rushing: Nick Grigsby, 16-61. Receiving: Anthony Johnson, 6-80
Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 17-30, 139 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs
Yvenson Bernard, 32-140 2 TDs. Receiving: Yvenson Bernard, 5-24, 1 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Oregon State might have just turned its season around. The running of Yvenson Bernard, the play of the defense, and better play from its quarterback than Arizona's led to the easy win. Sean Canfield was hardly sharp, throwing two picks and just 139 yards, but he didn't have to try to make the big plays like Willie Tuitama did. The OSU defense dictated the action, with the pressure into the backfield coming from all sides. It'll have to come up with eight sacks again next week to have a shot at beating Cal.

Sept. 29
UCLA 40 ... Oregon State 14
Oregon State appeared to be on its way to an easy win, taking a 14-0 first quarter lead on an Al Afalavia 33-yard fumble return for a score, and a one-yard Yvenson Bernard touchdown run. The then came the self-destruction. UCLA managed two Kai Forbath field goals in the second quarter, and took advantage of two fumbled kickoff returns from Gerard Lawson to get two short Kahlil Bell scoring runs. Brandon Breazell scored from 69 and 30 yards out, with the first score coming after a personal foul call, and Chris Markey ran it in from two yards away as part of a 28-0 fourth quarter Bruin run.
Player of the game: UCLA CB Trey Brown made eight tackles with two interceptions.
Stat Leaders: UCLA - Passing: Ben Olson, 14-25, 220 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Kahlil Bell, 24-80, 2 TD. Receiving: Brandon Breazell, 2-99, 2 TD
Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 22-35, 146 yds, 2 INT
Yvenson Bernard, 27-125, 1 TD. Receiving: Anthony Brown, 6-34

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The Beavers are playing like a frustrated team that can't seem to find ways to make things happen. When the wheels fell off in the second half against UCLA, they went flying, mostly due to Gerard Lawson and his two fumbled kickoffs, but that wasn't the real issue. Once again, the quarterbacking of Sean Canfield wasn't up to snuff, and while it's not right to blame all the problems on him, the offense only converted one of 14 third down chances. Yvenson Bernard can't do it all by himself.

Sept. 22
Arizona State 44 ... Oregon State 32
Arizona State ripped off 31 straight points in the second half to overcome a rough first quarter, as Ryan Torain scored on two Rudy Carpenter passes to go along with a 41-yard dash. Oregon State got up 19-0, starting of with a safety off a bad snap before Howard Croom caught a 14-yard touchdown pass, and Yvenson Bernard ran for a one-yard score. And then the ASU passing game kicked in, as Carpenter connected with Michael Jones for a 64-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and again late in the third quarter from 43 yards out. The Sun Devil defense also did its part with five interceptions, with Robert James and Troy Nolan picking off OSU QB Sean Canfield twice.
Player of the game: Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter completed 25 of 36 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Arizona State - Passing: Rudy Carpenter, 25-36, 361 yds, 4 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Ryan Torain, 26-91, 1 TD. Receiving: Rudy Burgess, 6-38
Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 28-48, 324 yds, 2 TD, 5 INT
Yvenson Bernard, 24-128, 1 TD. Receiving: Sammie Stroughter, 6-102

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It continues to be a simple issue for Oregon State. The quarterback play isn't up-to-snuff against the better Pac 10 passers. While Sean Canfield threw for 324 yards, his five interceptions gave Arizona State too many chances to blow the game open. On the flip side, Sun Devil quarterback Rudy Carpenter didn't make many poor decisions. Yvenson Bernard and Sammie Stroughter each did their part, but with Canfield struggling, the offense had to spend the day playing catch-up.

Sept. 15
Oregon State 61 ... Idaho State 10
Sammie Stroughter showed what he does for the Oregon State passing game with two touchdowns, scoring from 48 and seven yards out, while four different Beavers ran for scores and Sean Canfield threw three touchdown passes in the rout. Down 28-0 in the first half, ISU finally got on the board with no time left on the clock on a 26-yard Brandon Jones field goal, and didn't get into the end zone until the fourth quarter on a 47-yard Josh Barnett catch. The Beavers outgained ISU 607 yards to 335.
Player of the game: Oregon State WR Sammie Stroughter caught nine passes for 160 yards and two scores.
Stat Leaders: Idaho State - Passing: Russel Hill, 23-38, 295 yds, 1 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: Josh Barnett, 10-30. Receiving: Eddie Thompson, 12-174
Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 21-30, 353 yds, 3 TD
Yvenson Bernard, 14-54, 1 TD. Receiving: Sammie Stroughter, 9-160, 2 TD

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... After the way the team got embarrassed against Cincinnati on national TV, it needed to take some frustrations out on someone. Poor Idaho State never had a chance, as the Beavers showed explosiveness and pop to the passing game. Cupcake games are meant to be played to work on the problems, and OSU did that by bombing away to get Sean Canfield some decent stats in what amounted to a glorified scrimmage. Now it's over; Canfield, not Lyle Moevao, appears to be the starter. Let's see how long that lasts next week against Arizona State.

Sept. 6
Cincinnati 34 ... Oregon State 3
Cincinnati stunned a surging Oregon State team by holding it to 310 yards of total offense and three points. The UC offense only managed 229 yards, but thanks to a defense that forced seven turnovers, it got the big plays when it had to with Ben Mauk hitting Marcus Barnett for a five-yard touchdown pass late in the first half to break a 3-3 tie, and getting the ball to Greg Moore, who took it 50 yards for a score late in the third. Barnett also recovered a blocked punt for a score, while Jake Rogers connected on field goals from 39 and 55 yards out. OSU's only points came on a 31-yard Alexis Serna field goal.
Player of the game: Cincinnati SS Haruki Nakamura made six tackles and intercepted two passes
Stat Leaders: Oregon State - Passing: Lyle Moevao, 14-23, 143 yds, 3 INT
Rushing: Yvenson Bernard, 16-30. Receiving: Yvenson Bernard, 7-17
Cincinnati - Passing: Ben Mauk, 15-23, 199 yds, 2 TD
Butler Benton, 11-47. Receiving: Marcus Barnett, 5-61, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Pin this ugly loss to Cincinnati on the offensive line and the quarterbacks. The O line never appeared to get off the team bus, being outhustled, pushed around, and dominated all game long, while the glaringly obvious issue is at quarterback, where both Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao stunk it up for a second straight game. Fortunately, Idaho State is up next to tune things up before Pac 10 play, but there appears to be a long way to go before the Beavers can keep up in a shootout. Sammie Stroughter didn't catch a pass in his return after missing the Utah game for personal reasons.

Aug. 30
Oregon State 24 ... Utah 7
It took a while for the Oregon State offense to produce, and then Yvenson Bernard took over with touchdown runs from nine and ten yards out, and Darrell Catchings caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Sean Canfield as part of a 24-0 run. Utah started off the scoring on a 36-yard pass from Brian Johnson to Brent Casteel, but Johnson was soon knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury and the offense never found its groove. The Beavers outrushed Utah 241 yards to 18.
Player of the game: Oregon State RB Yvenson Bernard ran 29 times for 165 yards and two touchdowns and led the team with four catches for 23 yards.
Stat Leaders: Utah - Passing: Brian Johnson, 8-13, 119 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Ray Stowers, 11-26. Receiving: Brent Casteel, 7-64, 1 TD
Oregon State - Passing: Sean Canfield, 8-19, 87 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Yvenson Bernard, 29-165, 2 TD. Receiving: Yvenson Bernard, 4-23
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... And the answer to the quarterback situation is ... bleech. Granted, not having Sammie Stroughter against Utah had a lot to do with it, but Sean Canfield and Lyle Moevao weren't able to do much to make the receivers better and neither looked ready to carry the offense if needed. Basically, they were bailed out by an All-America caliber game from Yvenson Bernard. The defense was terrific, with FS Al Afalava having a fantastic game against both the pass and the run. Outside of the passing game, the other concern will be punting after Alexis Serna struggled to get anything deep.

Aug. 30 - Utah
Offense: Look out. Utah not only gets just about everyone back with its top six wide receivers, leading rusher Darryl Poston, and four starting offensive linemen, but it also welcomes back its superstar, quarterback Brian Johnson, after taking last year off to recover from a torn ACL. All the problems with inconsistency throughout last season should be gone thanks to all the experience. Expect more explosion, a slew of Mountain West all-stars, and for Johnson to become a national college football name. There's more than enough depth at the skill positions to withstand injuries, but there's no development among the backups on the line.  
Defense: There's a ton of athleticism and loads of potential, but there are also several major concerns on the line and secondary. The linebacking corps will be fine with four starting-caliber players returning led by Joe Jianonni in the middle. Martail Burnett is an all-star waiting to blow up at end, free safety Steve Tate is good for 100 tackles, and Brice McCain has the kind of speed that NFL scouts tend to drool over. Everything else is up in the air with former receiver Sean Smith trying to handle the second corner spot, no experience to count on at strong safety, and unproven new starters at tackle and the second defensive end. In the end, the D will be fine in Mountain West play because of all the talent, but it might not be good enough to win the league title if the offense struggles for a game or two.

Sept. 6 – at Cincinnati
Offense: Take whatever you knew about last year's Cincy offense and delete it.  Nothing will be the same, as Brian Kelly and his staff dismantle Mark Dantonio's plodding run game in favor of a fancy spread attack.  There'll be growing pains, to be sure, but by mid-season, there should also be improvement if a consistent quarterback, such as Wake Forest transfer Ben Mauk, develops and the line adjusts to a zone blocking scheme.  A receiving corps that's led by juniors Derrick Stewart, Dominick Goodman and Connor Barwin has a chance to blow up in the new system. 

Sept. 15 – Idaho State

Sept. 22 – at Arizona State
Offense: Arizona State really wasn't Arizona State in 2006, but with ten starters returning, there's reason to believe that the Sun Devils will score in bunches this year.  Dennis Erickson brings a balanced and unpredictable system that'll use multiple formations and plenty of shotgun, yet still lean heavily on the running game.  The success of the unit hinges on the play of quarterback Rudy Carpenter, who looked destined for stardom as a freshman before suffering through a humbling sophomore season marked by turnovers and lapses in confidence.  His supporting cast is headed by Ryan Torain, one of the nation's best backs that no one outside the Pac-10 has seen.  With six seasoned linemen back, he's destined to become the first Sun Devil in over 30 years to go for more than 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.  Although Carpenter's receivers did nothing to help him out of his slump in 2006, they're now awash with the kind of speed and playmaking potential that's customary in Tempe.       
Defense: Six starters return to a defense that improved in 2006, yet still allowed more than 40 points in four of the final ten games.  The Sun Devils will continue to run out of a 4-3 base while asking their linebackers and safeties to freelance and make plays all over the field.  There are building blocks—and question marks—at each unit heading into 2007.  Tackle Michael Marquardt and Dexter Davis have all-league potential, but both are going to need support from a couple of new starters.  Although the linebackers have considerable upside, the man in the middle, Morris Wooten, is a first-year player.  And while safety Josh Barrett and corner Justin Tryon will play on Sundays, the pass defense is in deep trouble if the other cornerback gets routinely exposed.  The net result?  A nice collection of talent that'll still allow plenty of yards to the Pac-10's finer-tuned offenses.                                    

Sept. 29 - UCLA
Offense: Tired of his feeble offense and conservative play calling, Karl Dorrell is turning the unit over to Jay Norvell, a Nebraska import who'll be calling plays for the first time in his career.  With him comes an up tempo version of the West Coast offense that'll be rooted in high percentage passes and the occasional use of the shotgun.  Norvell's triggerman will be lefty Ben Olson, who's held off the challenge of Patrick Cowan, and is still waiting for a breakthrough season five years after being a ballyhooed BYU recruit.  Although 12 players with extensive starting experience return, only guard Shannon Tevaga and running back Chris Markey can be considered bona fide threats for all-league honors.  To help get Olson where he needs to be, a playmaker or two needs to emerge among a pedestrian receiving corps.
Defense: Kudos to defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who did the improbable in 2006 by whipping a sorry Bruin defense into shape.  Ten starters are back from that unit, which finished No. 2 in the Pac-10 in total defense and tops against the run.  One All-American rush end, Justin Hickman, has departed, but one, Bruce Davis, returns to wreak havoc on league quarterbacks.  Although the linebackers look nothing like the ones across town at USC, they're fast, instinctive and a nice fit for Walker's defense.  Middle linebacker Christian Taylor is the definition of a hard-working college athlete that makes a ton of plays, but likely won't be wearing pads beyond 2007.  The secondary is an enigma that's loaded with returning talent, yet still vulnerable through the air.  Strong safety Chris Horton laid the groundwork last year for what should be a terrific final season at UCLA.

Oct. 6 – Arizona
Offense: After averaging a 100th place finish in total offense over the last three years, Mike Stoops has handed the unit off to former Texas Tech coordinator Sonny Dykes.  Dykes has learned from the likes of Mike Leach and Hal Mumme over the last decade, so expect to see a rejuvenated Willie Tuitama in the shotgun, putting the ball up a ton more than last season.  The Wildcats' quest to stretch defenses vertically and horizontally in the spread offense will hinge on their ability to develop dependable receivers other than junior Mike Thomas.  The beleaguered offensive line is a year older, intact and poised to benefit from a system that forces the quarterback to make quick passes and even quicker decisions.  Sophomore Eben Britton is on the brink of becoming a prodigy at right tackle.
Defense: With the return of ten starters and an all-star caliber player at each unit, Arizona should be even stingier than 2006, when it led the Pac-10 in turnover margin and allowed fewer than 20 points a game.  The headliner once again will be senior Antoine Cason, one of the smoothest corners in America and a leading candidate for the Thorpe Award.  Led by underrated senior Spencer Larsen, the linebackers are a no-name crew that just goes out and makes a bunch of tackles every Saturday.  The onus for jump starting the pass rush falls squarely on the shoulders of senior Louis Holmes, a massive talent that underachieved in his first season out of junior college. 

Oct. 13 – at California
Offense: With Jeff Tedford at the controls, this is basically a pro-style offense that mixes the run and the pass evenly, and puts up points as quickly as any program in the country.  The head coach will be calling plays again after a one-year hiatus, meaning trick plays will be more frequent than a year ago.  The job of distributing the ball to an array of speedy skill position players belongs to quarterback Nate Longshore, a strong-armed junior that threw 24 touchdown passes in 2006 and a few too many picks.  Although he has plenty of receivers to choose from, none is more lethal than DeSean Jackson, a field-stretcher and legit Heisman candidate.  Super sub Justin Forsett takes over for Marshawn Lynch at running back, where he'll be running behind an outstanding veteran line.  Center Alex Mack is on the All-American doorstep after earning first team All-Pac-10 honors as a sophomore.
Defense: There's plenty of work to be done for a Cal defense that begins a new era without its signature all-conference player at each of the three defensive units.  Outstanding recruiting by Jeff Tedford and his staff in recent years ensures that the cupboard is far from empty, but there'll be a learning curve early on in 2007.  Of greatest concern is a pass defense that gets modest support up front and will be relying on a slew of green cornerbacks.  Sophomore Syd'Quan Thompson and redshirt freshman Darian Hagan look the part, but need to deliver once Pac-10 plays begins.  Junior Zack Follett is the budding star of a linebacker unit that has the potential to be the next best thing to USC in the conference.      

Oct. 27 - Stanford
Offense: Jim Harbaugh wants to attack defenses with an up tempo offense that'll feature lots of pre-snap motion and a ball control element that harkens back to the Bill Walsh days of the West Coast offense.  It worked swimmingly at the University of San Diego for the past couple of years, but this is Stanford where ten points and less than 250 yards a game was the norm last year.  The Cardinal is experienced everywhere and pretty deep at the skill positions, but none of that will matter unless the offensive line does a complete 180 off last year's atrocious performance. 
Defense: New defensive coordinator Scott Shafer is scrapping the 3-4 this year in favor of an attacking 4-3 that is designed to create more turnovers and more plays for negative yards.  The Cardinal is open to suggestions after finishing last in the Pac-10 in just about every defensive category in 2006.  There are holes, to be sure, but Shafer will also inherit some exciting young talent at each unit, such as sophomore tackle Ekom Udofia, sophomore linebacker Clinton Snyder and junior cornerback Wopamo Osaisai.  Above all else, the defense has to find some answers against the run after being humiliated for more than 2,500 yards and nearly five yards a carry a year ago. 

Nov. 3 – at USC
Offense: Does anyone in the country reload faster than the Trojans?  While there'll be new faces on the line, at wide receiver, and at offensive coordinator, the high-powered results that have become commonplace in the Pete Carroll era aren't about to change.  Of course, it helps to have at the controls strong-armed senior John David Booty, one of the early favorites to add a fourth Heisman Trophy to Heritage Hall in the last six years.  He'll be surrounded by an absolutely decadent amount of skill position talent, but most of the receivers lack experience at this level.  In this case, talent will overcome inexperience in a rout.  At 6-5 and 220 pounds, junior receiver Patrick Turner has the imposing size and sticky fingers to conjure up images of Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett, and have a breakout year.  Although the line is going to miss the presence of center Ryan Kalil, returning two-time All-American Sam Baker to protect Booty's blindside will help cushion the blow.    
Defense: The Trojan offense is good.  The Trojan defense is scary good.  Backed by a Who's Who of future first-day NFL Draft choices, USC is ready to unleash the nastiest and stingiest unit of the Pete Carroll era.  Led by Sedrick Ellis at the nose, Keith Rivers at middle linebacker, and Terrell Thomas at cornerback, the Trojans boast seven players capable of making a run at All-America honors in 2007.  Yeah, a few more sacks and takeaways would be nice, but this is as close to a flawless unit that there is in the country.  From front to back, they're aggressive, experienced and fast enough to create a swarming effect on the ball carrier.  Although the Trojans will give up yards to teams playing from behind, scoring meaningful points on them in the first three quarters is going to be a year-long nightmare.   

Nov. 10 - Washington
Offense: All eyes in Seattle will be fixed on the debut of hot-shot rookie quarterback Jake Locker, but if there's one priority for Tyrone Willingham in 2007, it's to get more consistent on the ground.  Conservative by Pac-10 doctrine, the third-year coach wants to pound it between the tackles to set up the pass.  Top back Louis Rankin is more of an outside runner, putting the onus on 210-pound sophomore J.R. Hasty to start realizing his vast potential.  While Locker has all the tools for stardom, he'll spend most of the upcoming season adapting to his new role as the face of the program.  His big-play target will be senior Marcel Reece, a Mike Walker clone poised to make a salary run.
Even with a slight improvement in 2006, the Husky pass defense ranked among the nation's worst for the second straight year.  With no stars and two new starters, expect more of the same in 2007.  The problems in the secondary will again overshadow a sneaky good front seven that features four returning starters on the defensive line and a group of young, dynamic linebackers, including sophomores E.J. Savannah and Donald Butler that could evolve into playmakers.  Defensive ends Greyson Gunheim and Daniel Te'o Nesheim are a couple of warriors that combined for two dozen tackles for loss last fall.  At 6-5 and 265 pounds, Gunheim runs like a gazelle, making him a magnet for NFL scouts visiting the Northwest. 

Nov. 17 – at Washington State
Offense: Washington State won't abandon the run by any means, but this is an offense that's traditionally wide-open and run out of three-wide sets.  The engineer of the attack will be fourth-year starting quarterback Alex Brink, who enters his senior season with a real nice complement of receivers, led by all-Pac-10 candidates Brandon Gibson and Michael Bumpus.  Although the offensive line welcomes back four players that started games a year ago, both tackles will be new, a big concern heading into the season.  If they're overmatched, the ripple effect will reverberate throughout the entire offense.          
Defense: Expect some subtle changes as head coach Bill Doba steps in to coordinate the defense in 2007.  He'd like to utilize more man coverages and blitz packages, both of which could be suicide for a secondary that's been gutted by graduations and is in dire need of a couple of reliable cornerbacks.  The Cougars are going to give up plenty of yards and points, but if they can create turnovers and sack the quarterback, like last year, there's hope that the breakdowns can be managed.  The defense is loaded with big, agile bodies up front, but there's a catch—serious injuries are mounting and could bleed into the start of the season.  While there's no quick fix for the pass defense, junior college transfer Terry Mixon has the potential to be a star from the moment he steps foot in Pullman.

Dec. 1 – at Oregon
Offense: As usual, Oregon gobbled up a ton of yards in 2006, but lacked efficiency most of the year and imploded under the weight of its turnovers in the second half of the season.  So when offensive coordinator Gary Crowton left for LSU, Mike Bellotti turned to New Hampshire's Chip Kelly to get the offense back on course.  A spread offense guru, Kelly will have a few new bells and whistles in his toolbox, including greater use of the no-huddle and increased reliance on superstar back Jonathan Stewart.  The key for the offense, and probably the entire team, will be the development of senior quarterback Dennis Dixon, who became the poster boy for the Ducks' collapse late last year.  He'll get adequate protection from Max Unger and the boys up front, but needs more consistency from a receiving corps that misplayed too many balls in 2006. 
Defense: Defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti isn't shy about bringing pressure with his wave of good athletes, and now has a couple of quality corners to marginalize the risk of selling out.  Jairus Byrd and Walter Thurmond, Freshman All-Americans in 2006, join standout rover Patrick Chung to give the Ducks their feistiest secondary in years.  The front seven, however, is far less stable.  After finishing ninth in the Pac-10 in run defense, Oregon needs to shore up the middle of its defense and develop an end or two that can consistently create pressure.  Redshirt freshman Brandon Bair is one possibility that has the staff cautiously excited about the defensive end spot.  In a league filled with strong-armed hurlers, that promising secondary will pay the price if opposing passers are given too much time to throw.               


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