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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

OSU’s Canfield looks to redeem

The conversations in Tucson and Corvallis, Ore., surrounding the cities’ respective football programs have been eerily similar this past week.

Both teams are coming off ugly losses last weekend to non-conference opponents and in each case the starting quarterback position has come into question. The difference between the Arizona (2-1) football team and Oregon State’s (2-1) is that only one team will retain confidence in their starting quarterback from last week.

While the Wildcats will try to establish their passing game this week with Nick Foles — who will see his first career start for Arizona — the Beavers will go with last week’s starter Sean Canfield.

Canfield — a senior and three-year letterman — began the 2009 season as OSU’s starting quarterback and played well in the team’s first two games — throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions with a 76.7 completion percentage.

But after a rough outing at home against Cincinnati in week two — where Canfield completed just 29 of 45 passing attempts with an interception — talk of a quarterback shuffle arose.

“”We disintegrated in a lot of ways (against Cincinnati),”” said OSU head coach Mike Riley. “”We did all the things that make you lose games. As an offensive unit we need to take a huge step forward.

“”But I have a lot of confidence in Sean (Canfield) and he’s done a lot of great things for our program. So I think we just need to clean up things offensively and then we’ll improve and everyone will be happy with our quarterback once again.””

While Riley said he will stay with Canfield as his starter this weekend, he said nothing to refute the possibility that Lyle Moevao — an OSU starting quarterback in 2008 who is preparing to make his return from shoulder surgery — could see the field as soon as this weekend.

The sixth-ranked passer in Beaver history for yards and touchdown passes did not play last season against the Wildcats due to the shoulder injury he sustained against ASU.

“”(Moevao) got his first practice last week against a defense unit,”” Riley said. “”He just needs to get his arm-strength back, but his motion looks good. I don’t know exactly how, when or in what situation, but there is a chance he’ll be ready to play in some capacity (against Arizona).””

With two very capable arms directing OSU’s offense, the Wildcat’s secondary will have its hands full — even more so than last week when Iowa continuously found holes and threw for over 200 yards of offense.

But the Beavers’ weapons do not stop at the quarterback and receivers. Running back Jacquizz Rodgers is arguably one of the Pacific 10 Conference’s best and averages over 110 yards per game, collecting five touchdowns in the process.

The Beavers will plan to run a balanced offense Saturday, and according to OSU center Alex Linnenkohl, the team will likely rely heavily on its high-powered running attack.

“”We like to run the ball,”” Linnenkohl said. “”If (the offensive line) can get the right movement up front then we always have a great chance of executing well on our play.

“”We have several talented runners who can really run wild as long as we do our job up front.””

Defensively, OSU’s gameplan is slightly more clouded. With a pocket passer in Foles getting the start and the potential for backup Matt Scott to get playing time due to his mobility, the Beaver’s defense has been forced to practice stopping both styles of offense.

However, despite Arizona’s potent running attack anchored by junior Nic Grigsby, OSU’s defense has shown strength in stopping the run while conversely looking susceptible in pass coverage. Through three games, the Beavers have held opponents to just 235 yards on the ground but have allowed 834 yards through the air along with five scores.

If this trend continues Saturday, Arizona head coach Mike Stoops’ decision to name Foles his starter could become crucial.

“”We haven’t seen a lot of Foles through the years, but I’ve heard a lot about him,”” Riley said. “”We know he’s a big guy who can throw the ball. But at the same time Scott is very versatile and can hurt you different ways in their offense.

“”Arizona has a foundation with good runners and a strong running attack, so from our perspective you have to start with (trying to stop) that in order to be successful.””

 

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