WHAT OREGONSTATE'S 3--0 shutout of Pittsburgh in last year's Brut(al) Sun Bowl lacked instyle points, it made up for in sweet redemption for the Beavers' defense. Inits previous outing the unit had allowed 694 yards in a 65--38 home loss toOregon, a rout that cost Oregon State its first Rose Bowl berth since 1965.Instead of sulking, the players used the Sun Bowl, says defensive coordinatorMark Banker, "to show the world who they were."
Who are they?Well, entering the fifth season of Mike Riley's second tour as coach, theBeavers are coming off the best three-year stretch in school history—28 wins,including three in bowls. That success would appear to be threatened by theloss of eight starters from a defense that was second in the Pac-10 in sacks,limited No. 1 USC to 86 yards rushing in the biggest upset of the year andfinished 23rd in the nation in total defense (despite that no-show in the CivilWar). But anyone who saw Oregon State's D at the final spring scrimmage knowsthis unit should be fine in '09.
No Beaver had abetter spring than senior Keaton Kristick, the fleet, instinctive strongsidelinebacker who, like most of his fellow 'backers, seems a tad light (6'3",230) for that position. To counter spread attacks, however, Banker prefersspeed over strength and bulk. Kristick was a high school tailback. Weaksidelinebacker Dwight Roberson (6 feet, 231) ran the 100 meters in high school.Sophomore David Pa'aluhi III, a recreational kickboxer who is moving fromoutside to middle linebacker, goes 5'11", 233 and has run the 40 in4.48.
On the subject ofspeedy sophomores, the Quizz Show is back for its second season in Corvallis.Super quick Jacquizz Rodgers finished last season with 1,291 yards rushing andbecame the first freshman to be named Pac-10 offensive player of the year. TheQuizz and his older brother, James, a junior wideout, will again spark theoffense.
After an 0--2start in '08, the Beavers finished 9--4. Kristick, for one, is less interestedin sustaining that level of success than in improving on it. "I'm asenior," he says. "I want to get that Rose Bowl."
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THE QUIZZ SHOW IS BACK FOR ITS SECOND SEASON INCORVALLIS.
COACH: Mike Riley (9th year overall)
2008 RECORD: 9--4 (7--2 in Pac-10)
FINAL AP RANK: 18
RETURNING STARTERS: 11 Offense 8, Defense 3
5 Portland State
12 at UNLV
3 at Arizona State
24 at USC
7 at Cal
21 at Washington State
3 at Oregon
For the first time in 113 meetings, the Civil War willbe played on a Thursday night. The winning team has scored at least 30 pointsin each of the last seven games and 50 or more three times.
Seven Beavers—not one of whom was recruited by anotherPac-10 program—were selected in the 2009 NFL draft. USC, with 11, was the onlyschool in the country to have more players taken in April.
JESSE BEALS/ICON SMI
A running back in high school, Kristick uses his speed to close ground and deliver crushing hits at linebacker.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JONATHAN FERREY/GETTY IMAGES
The offensive spark will be provided by the elusive Jacquizz Rodgers, who became the first freshman to be named Pac-10 offensive player of the year.